Why shaming countries for human rights abuses can backfire

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On this episode of the Big Brains podcast, a scholar examines the geopolitical impacts of confronting human rights violations.

How do you stop a government from continuing to commit human rights abuses?

You could take them to an international court of justice, or file a complaint at the UN. But none of those bodies have any enforcement power.

Short of going to war, the only option on the table in most international situations is to name and shame. But is that strategy effective?

In her new book, The Geopolitics of Shaming: When Human Rights Pressure Works and When It Backfires (Princeton University Press, 2023), University of Chicago political scientist Rochelle Terman argues that there is a real dilemma to international human rights pressure: Shaming is most common in situations where it is least likely to be effective; and, most troublingly, it can often make human rights abuses worse.

Here, Terman explains her book and how shame can be a double-edged sword in geopolitics:

Read the transcript for this episode.

Source: University of Chicago