In This Review

The Power of Human Rights: International Norms and Domestic Change
The Power of Human Rights: International Norms and Domestic Change
Edited by Thomas Risse, Stephen C. Ropp, and Kathryn Sikkink
Cambridge University Press, 1999, 330 pp.

A sophisticated inquiry into when and how international human rights norms change state behavior, tracing the way transnational advocacy groups, international organizations, Western states, and domestic opposition groups interact to put pressure on offending governments. The authors offer an elaborate model of the spread of the norms in which persuasion, sanctions, coalition building, and domestic institutions all effect political change. Cases drawn from Asia, Latin America, Africa, and eastern Europe tell the story of an international system -- increasingly dense in human rights groups, multilateral agreements, and entangling norms -- that can isolate illiberal regimes and push them to reform; South Africa, Chile, and the Philippines, among other cases, are probed. The authors argue that this changed international environment is ultimately more important than specific country features and economics in explaining the spread of human rights norms around the world. The conclusion draws useful lessons for policymakers and advocates alike, stressing the importance of carrots, sticks, and the combined efforts of the world community.