Taking the cue: The response to US human rights sanctions against third parties

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20 Scopus citations


Although scholars have suggested that sanctions could have an international symbolic effect in which they inform third parties of sender preferences and resolve, studies have not examined whether and when sanctions against one state lead other states to change similar proscribed behavior. In this paper, I examine whether abusive regimes change their respect for physical integrity rights when they witness US human rights sanctions against third parties. Synthesizing contributions from the literatures on sanction effectiveness, reputation and human rights promotion, I develop a new theory asserting that human rights sanctions can motivate leaders in non-sanctioned states to improve their human rights practices proactively-or at least to prevent worsened abuse-when they perceive themselves as sufficiently similar to the sanction target. I find support for my expectations in stratified Cox proportional hazards models using data spanning 1976-2000.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-167
Number of pages23
JournalConflict Management and Peace Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Human rights
  • reputation
  • sanctions
  • vicarious learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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