The relational politics of shame: Evidence from the universal periodic review
- 1.3k Downloads
International human rights institutions often rely on “naming and shaming” to promote compliance with global norms. Critics charge that such institutions are too politicized; states condemn human rights violations selectively, based on their strategic interests, while protecting friends and allies. In this view, politicization undermines shaming’s credibility and thus its effectiveness. This paper offers an alternative account of such institutions and the mechanism by which they promote human rights. We argue that interstate shaming is an inherently political exercise that operates through strategic relationships, not in spite of them. While states are less likely to criticize their friends and allies, any criticism they do offer is more influential precisely because of this pre-existing partnership. We test this argument through quantitative analysis of the most elaborate human rights mechanism in the international system: the United Nations Universal Periodic Review. We find that states are more lenient towards their strategic partners in the peer-review process. Yet when they do criticize, their recommendations are accepted more often than substantially identical recommendations emanating from other states with fewer strategic ties. Insofar as shaming disseminates powerful signals regarding political relationships between states, these interactions can be meaningful and influential, even as they remain selective and politicized.
KeywordsUnited Nations Universal periodic review Human rights Naming and shaming Quantitative analysis
An earlier version of this article was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (San Francisco, 2015), the Human Rights in an Age of Ambiguity conference (New York City, 2016), and the International Relations colloquium at the University of California, Berkeley. For helpful commends, we thank the participants at those workshops, especially Marc Limon, Jeanette Money, and Laura Stoker. We are grateful to Erin Sielaff and Mathison Clore for excellent research assistance. This research was supported in part by the University of California Institute for Global Conflict and Cooperation and the University of California Berkeley Institute of International Studies.
- Barry, C. M., Clay, K. C., & Flynn, M. E. (2012). Avoiding the spotlight: human rights shaming and foreign direct investment. International Studies Quarterly, 57(3), 532–544.Google Scholar
- Boockmann, B., & Dreher, A. (2010). Do human rights offenders oppose human rights resolutions in the United Nations? Public Choice, 146(3–4), 443–467.Google Scholar
- Bowcott, O. (2015) UK and Saudi Arabia ‘in Secret Deal’ over Human Rights Council Place. The Guardian, September 29, sec. UK news. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/29/uk-and-saudi-arabia-in-secret-deal-over-human-rights-council-place.
- Channel 4 News (2015). “David Cameron Challenged over Saudi Arabian Teenager.” Channel 4 News, October 6. http://www.channel4.com/news/david-cameron-challenged-over-saudi-arabian-teenager.
- Edwards, M. S., Scott, K. M., Allen, S. H., Irvin, K. (2008). Sins of Commission? Understanding Membership Patterns on the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Political Research Quarterly, 61(3), 390–402.Google Scholar
- FIACAT. (2009). “UPR: An Ambivalent Exersice.” The International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT). http://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/general-document/pdf/-fiacat_ambivalent_exercise_2009_e.pdf.
- General Assembly resolution 60/251. (2006). “Human Rights Council.” A/RES/60/251. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/A.RES.60.251_En.pdf.
- Gibler, D. M. (2009). International military alliances 1648–2008. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.Google Scholar
- Goldberg, J. (2015). “When Beheading Won’t Do the Job, the Saudis Resort to Crucifixion.” The Atlantic, September 24. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/saudi-arabia-beheading-crucifixion-nimr/407221/.
- Gordon, M.R., & D.D. Kirkpatrick. (2015). Kerry Warns Egypt Human Rights Abuses Can Hurt Fight Against Terrorism. The New York Times, August 2. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/03/world/middleeast/kerry-in-egypt-discusses-balancing-human-rights-and-terror-fight.html.
- Greenwald, G. (2015). U.S. Government Celebrates Its Arming of the Egyptian Regime With a YouTube Video. The Intercept, August 3. https://theintercept.com/2015/08/03/u-s-government-celebrates-arming-egyptian-regime-youtube-video/.
- Gujadhur, S., & Limon, M. (2016). Toward the Third Cycle of The UPR: Stick of Twist?. Geneva: Universal Rights Group.Google Scholar
- Guzman, A. T. (2007). How international law works: a rational choice theory. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Ingraham, C. (2015). Why One of the World’s Worst Human Rights Offenders Is Leading a U.N. Human Rights Panel. The Washington Post, September 28. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/09/28/why-one-of-the-worlds-worst-human-rights-offenders-is-leading-a-un-human-rights-panel/.
- Katzenstein, P. (Ed.) (1996). The culture of National Security: norms and identity in world politics. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Mchangama, J., and Rhodes, A.. (2013). UN Reviews Show Dysfunction of Human Rights Discourse and Practice. The Huffington Post, May 13. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/aaron-rhodes/un-reviews-show-dysfuncti_b_3265250.html.
- McMahon, E.R. (2012a). Assessing the First Cycle of the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review: Herding Cats and Sheep.” In Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, 12–15.Google Scholar
- McMahon, E.R. (2012b). The Universal Periodic Review: A Work in Progress. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/genf/09297.pdf.
- Piccone, T., & Piccone, T. J. (2012). Catalysts for change: how the UN’s independent experts promote human rights. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
- Ropp, S. C., Sikkink, K., & Risse, T. (Eds.) (1999). The power of human rights: international norms and domestic change. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Schaefer, B.D., & Groves, S. (2016) The U.S. Universal Periodic Review: Flawed from the Start. The Heritage Foundation. Accessed January 19. http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/08/the-us-universal-periodic-review-flawed-from-the-start.
- Simmons, B. A. (2009). Mobilizing for human rights: international law in domestic politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- UN Watch (2009). A Mutual Praise Society: Country Scorecard and Evaluation of the Universal Periodic Review System of the U.N. Human Rights Council. UN Watch. http://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/general-document/pdf/-mutual_praise_society.pdf.
- United Nations Secretary-General (2005a). In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All : Report of the Secretary-General. United Nations Publications.Google Scholar
- United Nations Secretary-General (2005b) Explanatory Note by the Secretary-General, A/59/2005/Add.1. In In Larger Freedom: Toward Development, Security and Human Rights for All. United Nations General Assembly. http://www.preventionweb.net/files/resolutions/N0535601.pdf.
- UPR Info (2014). Beyond Promises. UPR Info. http://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/general-document/pdf/2014_beyond_promises.pdf.
- UPR Info (2015). What Is the UPR? UPR Info. Accessed August 24. http://www.upr-info.org/en/upr-process/what-is-it.
- Vieira de Mello, S. (2003). Commission’s Structures Are Sound, Problems Can Be Surmounted, High Commissioner Says as Main UN Human Rights Body Ends Session. Presented at the Closing meeting of the fifty-ninth Session of the Commission on Human Rights, April 25. http://www.usp.br/svm/textos/t-dh-07.php.