Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Trading Human Rights: How Preferential Trade Agreements Influence Government Repression

  • Emilie M. Hafner-Burton (a1)

A growing number of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) have come to play a significant role in governing state compliance with human rights. When they supply hard standards that tie material benefits of integration to compliance with human rights principles, PTAs are more effective than softer human rights agreements (HRAs) in changing repressive behaviors. PTAs improve members' human rights through coercion, by supplying the instruments and resources to change actors' incentives to promote reforms that would not otherwise be implemented. I develop three hypotheses: (1) state commitment to HRAs and (2) PTAs supplying soft human rights standards (not tied to market benefits) do not systematically produce improvement in human rights behaviors, while (3) state commitment to PTAs supplying hard human rights standards does often produce better practices. I draw on several cases to illustrate the processes of influence and test the argument on the experience of 177 states during the period 1972 to 2002.I would like to thank Mike Colaresi, Dan Drezner, David Lake, Lisa Martin, Walter Mattli, John Meyer, Mark Pollack, Erik Voeten, Jim Vreeland, and two anonymous reviewers for their detailed and thoughtful comments on various drafts of this manuscript, as well as the many other people who have helped me by asking hard questions along the way. I would also like to thank Michael Barnett, Charles Franklin, and Jon Pevehouse for advice during the dissertation research that supports this article, and Alexander H. Montgomery for assistance in data management. All faults are my own. For generous assistance in the collection of data, I thank the National Science Foundation (SES 2CDZ414 and SES 0135422), John Meyer, and Francisco Ramirez. For support during the writing of the article, I thank Nuffield College at Oxford University, and most importantly, Lynn Eden and Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Trading Human Rights: How Preferential Trade Agreements Influence Government Repression
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Trading Human Rights: How Preferential Trade Agreements Influence Government Repression
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Trading Human Rights: How Preferential Trade Agreements Influence Government Repression
      Available formats
Hide All
Abbott, Kenneth W, and Duncan Snidal. 2000. Hard and Soft Law in International Governance, International Organization 54 (3):42156.

Abbott, Kenneth W, and DuncanSnidal. 2001. International ‘Standards’ and International Governance. Journal of European Public Policy8 (3):34570.

Chayes, Abram, and Antonia HandlerChayes. 1990. From Law Enforcement to Dispute Settlement: A New Approach to Arms Control Verification and Compliance. International Security14 (4):14764.

Cingranelli, David L., and David L.Richards. 1999. Respect for Human Rights After the End of the Cold War. Journal of Peace Research36 (5):51134.

Cottier, Thomas. 2002. Trade and Human Rights: A Relationship to Discover. Journal of International Economic Law5 (1):11132.

Donnelly, Jack. 1986. International Human Rights: A Regime Analysis. International Organization40 (3):599642.

Downs, George W., David M.Rocke, and Peter N.Barsoom. 1996. Is the Good News About Compliance Good News about Cooperation?International Organization50 (3):379406.

Drezner, Daniel W. 2003. The Hidden Hand of Economic Coercion. International Organization 57 (3):64359.

Eaton, Jonathan, and MaximEngers. 1999. Sanctions: Some Simply Analytics. American Economic Review89 (2):40914.

Finnemore, Martha, and KathrynSikkink. 1998. International Norm Dynamics and Political Change. International Organization52 (4):887917.

Franck, Thomas M.1988. Legitimacy in the International System. American Journal of International Law82 (4):70558.

Hafner-Burton, Emilie M.2005. Right or Robust? The Sensitive Nature of Political Repression in an Era of Globalization. Journal of Peace Research. Available at 〈∼emiliehb〉. Accessed 28 March 2005.

Hafner-Burton, Emilie M., and KiyoteruTsutsui. 2005. Human Rights in a Globalizing World: The Paradox of Empty Promises. American Journal of Sociology110 (5):13731411. Available at 〈∼emiliehb〉. Accessed 28 March 2005.

Hathaway, Oona A.2002. Do Human Rights Treaties Make a Difference?Yale Law Journal111 (8):19352042.

Helfer, Laurence R., and Anne-MarieSlaughter. 1997. Toward a Theory of Effective Supranational Adjudication. Yale Law Journal107 (2):273391.

Henderson, Conway W.1991. Conditions Affecting the Use of Political Repression. Journal of Conflict Resolution35 (1):12042.

Howard, Rhoda, and JackDonnelly. 1986. Human Dignity, Human Rights, and Political Regimes. American Political Science Review80 (3):80118.

Johnston, Alastair Iain. 2001. Treating International Institutions as Social Environments. International Studies Quarterly45 (4):48990.

Koh, Harold Hongju. 1996–97. Why Do Nations Obey International Law?Yale Law Journal106 (8):2599659.

Lutz, Ellen L., and Kathryn Sikkink. 2000. International Human Rights Law and Practice in Latin America. International Organization 54 (3):63359.

Mansfield, Edward D.1998. The Proliferation of Preferential Trading Agreements. Journal of Conflict Resolution42 (5):52343.

McCall Smith, James. 2000. The Politics of Dispute Settlement Design: Explaining Legalism in Regional Trade Pacts. International Organization 54 (1):13780.

McCrudden, Christopher, and AnneDavies. 2000. A Perspective on Trade and Labour Rights. Journal of International Economic Law3 (1):4362.

Mearsheimer, John J.1994/1995. The False Promise of International Institutions. International Security19 (3):549.

Meyer, John W., JohnBoli, George M.Thomas, and Francisco O.Ramirez. 1997. World Society and the Nation-State. American Journal of Sociology103 (1):14481.

Mitchell, Neil, and JamesMcCormick. 1988. Economic and Political Explanations of Human Rights Violations. World Politics40 (4):47698.

Mitchell, Ronald B.1993. Compliance Theory: A Synthesis. Review of European Community and International Environmental Law2 (4):32734.

Moravcsik, Andrew. 1995. Explaining International Human Rights Regimes: Liberal Theory and Western Europe. European Journal of International Relations1 (2):15789.

Moravcsik, Andrew. 2000. The Origins of Human Rights Regimes: Democratic Delegation in Postwar Europe. International Organization 54 (2):21752.

Oneal, John R., and Bruce M.Russett. 1999. The Kantian Peace—The Pacific Benefits of Democracy, Interdependence, and International Organizations, 1885–1992. World Politics52 (1):137.

Payne, Rodger A.2001. Persuasion, Frames, and Norm Construction. European Journal of International Relations7 (1):3761.

Poe, Steven C., and C. NealTate. 1994. Repression of Human Rights to Personal Integrity in the 1980s: A Global Analysis. American Political Science Review88 (4):85372.

Poe, Steven, C. NealTate, and Linda CampKeith. 1999. Repression of the Human Right to Personal Integrity Revisited: A Global Cross-National Study Covering the Years 1976–1993. International Studies Quarterly43 (2):291313.

Price, Richard. 1998. Reversing the Gun Sights: Transnational Civil Society Targets Land Mines. International Organization52 (3):61344.

Richards, David L., Ronald D.Gelleny, and David H.Sacko. 2001. Money with a Mean Streak? Foreign Economic Penetration and Government Respect for Human Rights in Developing Countries. International Studies Quarterly45 (2):21939.

Schwitzgebel, Eric. 1999. Gradual Belief Change in Children. Human Development42 (1):28396.

Slusher, Morgan, and Craig A.Anderson. 1996. Using Causal Persuasive Arguments to Change Beliefs and Teach New Information: The Mediating Role of Explanation Availability and Evaluation Bias in the Acceptance of Knowledge. Journal of Educational Psychology88 (1):11022.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Organization
  • ISSN: 0020-8183
  • EISSN: 1531-5088
  • URL: /core/journals/international-organization
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 95
Total number of PDF views: 826 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1589 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.