United Nations Endorsement and Support for Human Rights: An Experiment on Women's Rights in Pakistan

Posted: 23 Feb 2016 Last revised: 25 Aug 2019

See all articles by Gulnaz Anjum

Gulnaz Anjum

Institute of Business Administration (IBA)

Adam Chilton

University of Chicago - Law School

Zahid Usman

Quaid-i-Azam University

Date Written: August 8, 2019


The United Nations is one of the organizations charged with developing and promoting international human rights law. One of the primary ways that the United Nations tries to do that is by regularly reviewing the human rights practices of member states and then recommending new policies for that state to implement. Although this expends considerable resources, a number of obstacles have made it difficult to empirically assess whether the United Nations’ review process actually causes countries to improve their human rights practices. To study this topic, we conducted an experiment in Pakistan that tested whether respondents were more likely to support policies aimed at improving women’s rights when they learned that the reforms were proposed by the United Nations. Our results indicate that the respondents who were randomly informed of the United Nations endorsement not only expressed higher support for the policy reforms, but also were more likely to express willingness to ‘mobilize’ in ways that would help the reforms be implemented. Our treatment did not have any effect, however, on respondents that did not already have confidence in the United Nations. This suggests that the international human rights regime may only be able to aid domestic reformers when there is already faith in those institutions.

Keywords: Human Rights, United Nations, Women’s Rights, International Law, Survey Experiment

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Anjum, Gulnaz and Chilton, Adam and Usman, Zahid, United Nations Endorsement and Support for Human Rights: An Experiment on Women's Rights in Pakistan (August 8, 2019). University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 747, U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 563, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2736680 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2736680

Gulnaz Anjum

Institute of Business Administration (IBA) ( email )

University Road
Karachi, Sindh 75270

Adam Chilton (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.adamchilton.org

Zahid Usman

Quaid-i-Azam University ( email )

3rd Avenue
Islamabad, Islamabad 44000

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