Human Rights Violations and Public Support for Sanctions

Barış Arı, Burak Sonmez

Research output: Working paper

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Public pressure to take punitive action against human rights violators is often a driving force behind international sanctions. Yet, we know little about how public support is shaped by varying types of abuse, the costs and effectiveness of sanctions, and the differential harm they inflict upon the target population and leadership. Our study specifically addresses this gap by unpicking contextual factors that jointly sway the perception of morality and the cost-benefit calculus. Findings from our paired conjoint experiment suggest that different categories of human rights abuses have varying degrees of perceived salience to merit international sanctions. Individuals also prefer sheltering the target population while punishing the leadership, but collective punishment becomes less unacceptable if majority of the target population supports the human rights infringements. The desire to do something against the perpetrators amplifies the appeal of punishing the leadership but assuages the moral concerns of harming the population.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2021


  • Human Rights
  • Sanctions
  • Experiment
  • Public Opinion

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