Knowing your audience: How the structure of international relations and organizational choices affect amnesty international’s advocacy

  • Cullen S. HendrixEmail author
  • Wendy H. Wong


While research has addressed the effects of international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) advocacy on human rights outcomes, less is known about how INGOs choose advocacy targets and tactics. We combine insights from political economy and constructivism to understand how INGOs come to choose targets and tactics through the concepts of information and leverage politics, first articulated by Keck and Sikkink (1998), and salience politics, or the need to select cases that energize organization members and donors. INGOs select potential targets for advocacy and choose their tactics based on considerations of leverage potential and political salience, both of which are a function of potential target states’ aid, trade, and security linkages with major Western powers. Using data on Amnesty International’s written advocacy efforts - background reports, press releases, and new data on Urgent Actions - we find robust evidence that Amnesty International accounts for these linkages with Western powers in choosing targets for its advocacy campaigns.


Human rights International non-government organizations Amnesty International Trade Arms transfers 

JEL Codes

D73 L31 P45 



We thank Amnesty International, and Scott Harrison in particular, for graciously sharing their data. We thank Michael Widmeier and Marie Chalkley for research assistance. We would like to thank Courtenay Conrad, Julia Gray, Miles Kahler, Will Moore, Dan Nielsen, Emily Ritter, and the participants at the 5th Annual Conference on The Political Economy of International Organizations and the 5th Annual Meeting of the International Political Economy Society for their feedback and suggestions. Special thanks to Jacqueline DeMeritt, Matthew Krain, Idean Salehyan, Sarah Stroup, Michael Tierney, three anonymous reviewers, and Axel Dreher for detailed comments and recommendations.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Josef Korbel School of International StudiesUniversity of DenverDenverUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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