Human Rights Review

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 131–155 | Cite as

Foreign Policy and Human Rights Advocacy: An Exercise in Measurement and Explanation

  • Federico MerkeEmail author
  • Gino Pauselli


This article addresses three questions: How can we define and measure what constitutes a foreign policy in human rights? How is it possible to explain both the activism of a state and its ideological orientation in the international promotion of human rights? What is the empirical evidence found when we try to answer these questions in intermediate states? Research done on four cases (Argentina, Australia, Brazil and South Africa) suggests a correlation between domestic efforts in the promotion of human rights and international advocacy. It also shows that the greater the power of intermediate states, the greater their activism in human rights. Further, as development grows states show less support for economic, social and cultural rights. Last, the strategic relation with the USA shapes how states vote regarding human rights violators states.


Foreign policy Human rights advocacy Democracy Development Civil society Power 


  1. Anaya Muñoz A (2009) Transnational and Domestic Processes in the Definition of Human Rights Policies in Mexico. Human Rights Quarterly 31:35–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Apodaca C (2005) U.S. human rights policy and foreign assistance: A short history. Ritsumeikan International Affairs 3: 63–80.Google Scholar
  3. Baehr P R, Castermans-Holleman M (2004) The Role of Human Rights in Foreign Policy. Palgrave, London.Google Scholar
  4. Berkovitch N, Gordon N (2008) The political economy of transnational regimes: The case of human rights. International Studies Quarterly 52: 881–904.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brysk A (2009) Global good samaritans. Human rights as foreign policy. Oxford University Press, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chapnick A (1999) The Middle Power. Canadian Foreign Policy 7: 73–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chillier G (2009) Argentina: logros y asuntos pendientes. Revista Res Diplomática 2.Google Scholar
  8. Cooper, A F. et al (1993) Relocating Middle Powers: Australia and Canada in a Changing World Order. UBC Press, Vancouver.Google Scholar
  9. Donnelly J (2003) Universal human rights. In theory & practice. Cornell University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  10. Donnelly J (2007) International Human Rights. Westview Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  11. Egeland J (1984) Human rights. Ineffective big states, potent small states. Journal of Peace Research 21: 207–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Forsythe D (1989) Human rights and world politics. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.Google Scholar
  13. Forsythe D (2000) Human rights and comparative foreign policy: Foundations of peace. United Nations University Press, Tokyo.Google Scholar
  14. Forsythe D (2006) Human rights in international relations. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goodwin-Gill G (1989) International Law and Human Rights: Trends Concerning International Migrants and Refugees. International Migration Review 23: 526–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Greenhill B (2010) The company you keep: International socialization and the diffusion of human rights norms. International Studies Quarterly 54:127–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hafner-Burton E (2012) International Regimes for Human Rights. Annual Review of Political Science 15: 265–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hafner-Burton E, Tsutsui K, Meyer J. (2008) International human rights law and the politics of legitimation. Repressive states and human rights treaties. International Sociology 23: 115–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Keck M E, Sikkink K (1998) Activists beyond borders. Cornell University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  20. Lebovic J, Voeten E (2006) The Politics of Shame: The Condemnation of Country Human Rights Practices in the UNCHR. International Studies Quarterly 50: 861–888.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Moravcsik A (1997) Taking preferences seriously: A liberal theory of international politics. International Organization 51: 513–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Morgenthau H (1979) Human Rights and Foreign Policy. Council of Religion and International Affairs, New York.Google Scholar
  23. Pevehouse J C (2002a) Democracy from outside-in? International organizations and democratization. International Organization 56: 515–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pevehouse J C (2002b) With a little help from my friends? Regional organizations and the consolidation of democracy. American Journal of Political Science 46: 611–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ravenhill J (1998) Cycles of middle power activism: Constraint and choice in Australian and Canadian foreign policies. Australian International Affairs 52: 309–327.Google Scholar
  26. Risse T, Ropp S, Sikkink, K. (1999) The power of human rights. International norms and domestic change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Schmitz H, Sikkink K (2006) “International Human Rights”. In Risse T and Simmons B. Handbook of International Relations. London: SAGE Publications, pp. 517–537.Google Scholar
  28. Sikkink K (2005) Mixed signals: US human rights policy and Latin America. Cornell University Press, Ithaca.Google Scholar
  29. Sikkink K (2008) From pariah state to global protagonist: Argentina and the struggle for international human rights. Latin American Politics and Society 50: 1–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Spektor M (2012) Humanitarian interventionism Brazilian style? Americas Quarterly, Summer.Google Scholar
  31. Wheeler N, Dunne, T (1998) Good international citizenship: A third way for British foreign policy. International Affairs 74: 847–870.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wheeler N, Dunne, T (2001) East Timor and the new humanitarian intervention. International Affairs 77: 805–827.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad de San AndrésVictoriaArgentina

Personalised recommendations