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Taking the Fight to Them: Neighborhood Human Rights Organizations and Domestic Protest

  • Sam R. Bell, Tavishi Bhasin, K. Chad Clay and Amanda Murdie


This article examines how human rights international non-governmental organizations (hereafter HROs) can increase the level of political protest in neighboring states. Previous research suggests local activities of HROs help to generate mobilization for protests against governments. This article shows that the presence of HROs in neighboring states can be a substitute for domestic HROs; if domestic HROs are already flourishing, there will be less of a ‘neighbor’ effect. At sufficiently high levels of domestic HRO prevalence within a state, neighboring HROs help domestic HROs use institutionalized substitutes for protest mobilization strategies. Spatial econometric methods are used to test the implications of this theory. These results illuminate the role that non-governmental organizations play in these domestic political processes, and demonstrate the transnational nature of their activities.



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Kansas State University (email:; Kennesaw State University (email:; University of Georgia (email:; University of Missouri (email: An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2011 Annual Peace Science Society Meeting hosted at the University of Southern California. We thank the participants of that meeting for their helpful comments. We also thank two anonymous reviewers and the Editor for their constructive and helpful comments. An online appendix with supplementary tables and replication data is available at All authors contributed equally and are thus listed in alphabetical order.



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Taking the Fight to Them: Neighborhood Human Rights Organizations and Domestic Protest

  • Sam R. Bell, Tavishi Bhasin, K. Chad Clay and Amanda Murdie


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