Shared human rights norms and military conflict

Timothy M. Peterson, Leah Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The normative transfer thesis posits that systematic discrimination, inequality, and repression are indicative of violent norms within states, which extend to the realm of foreign policy. In this article, the authors contend that the pacifying influence of similarity conditions the impact of physical integrity norms at the dyad level. Although mutual norms of domestic nonviolence are more pacifying than mutual disregard thereof, the authors argue that a wide disparity in norms is more aggravating than shared violent norms. This follows because similarity of abusive norms may preclude certain conflicts of interest from originating. The authors test this argument on data from 1981 to 2001, finding that conflict initiation is more likely when states have disparate levels of respect for physical integrity rights. The authors find evidence for a conditional norm transfer, as mutually respectful dyads are least likely to experience conflict; however, they also find evidence of a somewhat weaker peace between abusers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-273
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • human rights
  • military conflict
  • normative transfer thesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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