Sticks and Stones: Naming and Shaming the Human Rights Enforcement Problem

28 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2015

Date Written: September 1, 2008


“Naming and shaming” is a popular strategy to enforce international human rights norms and laws Nongovernmental organizations, news media, and international organizations publicize countries’ violations and urge reform. Evidence that these spotlights are followed by improvements is anecdotal. This article analyzes the relationship between global naming and shaming efforts and governments’ human rights practices for 145 countries from 1975 to 2000. The statistics show that governments put in the spotlight for abuses continue or even ramp up some violations afterward, while reducing others One reason is that governments’ capacities for human rights improvements vary across types of violations. Another is that governments are strategically using some violations to offset other improvements they make in response to international pressure to stop violations.

Keywords: Huamn Rights, Treaty Enforcement, Non-Governmental Organizations, Political Science

Suggested Citation

Hafner-Burton, Emilie Marie, Sticks and Stones: Naming and Shaming the Human Rights Enforcement Problem (September 1, 2008). International Organization, Vol. 62, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Emilie Marie Hafner-Burton (Contact Author)

UCSD School of Global Policy and Strategy ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States


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