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Relativizing Human Rights

Landman, T and Kernohan, D and Gohdes, A (2012) 'Relativizing Human Rights.' Journal of Human Rights, 11 (4). pp. 460-485. ISSN 1475-4835

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Research, policy analysis, and conditional aid policy among some donor countries rely on standards-based measures of country human rights performance. These measures code annual performance based on narrative reports published by the US State Department and Amnesty International. The coding yields a performance ranking for countries that in our view is ?absolute? or reflects that current state of human rights performance without taking into account the relative social, political, or economic conditions within countries. While this absolute ranking is useful for empirical analyses of some human rights questions and policy applications, it can lead to perverse outcomes in other areas of work. This article provides an alternative method for ranking country human rights performance that takes into account an array of additional variables that are related to the protection of civil and political rights. The method involves three stages. Stage one applies principal component factor analysis to five different standards-based measures of civil and political rights to extract a single human rights ?factor score.? Stage two regresses the factor score on a series of explanatory variables for the protection of civil and political rights for which there is widespread consensus and then saves the residual as an indicator of the ?over? or ?under? performance of countries with respect to the protection of those rights. Stage three plots the ?factor score? alongside the relative score to compare these different measures of human rights performance over time and across different regions. Our results lead to a new depiction of human rights progress in the world that we believe will be of interest to human rights scholars and practitioners.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JX International law
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2013 11:22
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:32

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