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Autocracy and Human Rights

Module Code: PO4780

Module Name: Autocracy and Human Rights 2018-19

  • ECTS Weighting: 15
  • Semester/Term Taught: Michaelmas + Hilary Term
  • Contact Hours: One hour lecture + one hour seminar per week
  • Module Personnel: Lecturer - Dr. Roman-Gabriel Olar
  • Office hours: Monday, 4-6pm

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Understand different conceptualizations and operationalizations of authoritarian regimes
  • Explore the strengths and weakness of different authoritarian governing styles and strategies
  • Examine the connection between co-optation and coercion
  • Discuss the conditions under which autocracies are more likely to experience conflict
  • Assess the role of mobilization in regime change and how it impacts democratization
  • Understand the origin of human rights and debate their universality and specificity for various cultural backgrounds
  • Examine the role of international institutions and norms in promoting human rights
  • Explore various approaches in quantifying human rights
  • Analyse the determinants of repression and the actors involved in human rights violations
  • Understand mechanisms to improve human rights practices around the world
  • Be able to critique readings, analyse evidence and construct informed arguments.

Module learning aims

The module aims to introduce students to the fundamental concepts and prominent approaches in the study of autocracy and human rights practices. Students will gain a thorough understanding of the main theoretical and empirical debates in the discipline, and be able to discuss and evaluate the underlying dynamics of authoritarian politics and human rights practices.

Module content

This course examines the politics of authoritarian regimes and human rights in a comparative perspective. The first part of the course (Michaelmas term) aims to expose students to different conceptualizations and operationalizations of authoritarianism, understand the main problems faced by autocrats, and their governing strategies. Further, this course explores how authoritarian governing strategies affect economic performance, the conditions under which autocracies are more susceptible to challenges, and when autocracies are more likely to collapse and democratize.  By the end of this class, students should be able to provide logical and well-informed opinions on questions such as: What types of autocracies exist and how do they differ from each other? What problems autocrats face and how do they solve? Which autocracies are more stable and when do they collapse?
The second part of the course (Hilary term) examines the politics of human rights and repression. It aims to provide students with a greater understanding of the concept of human rights. The first part of Hilary term approaches the concept of human rights in a comparative perspective, discussing universal and cultural conceptualizations, their importance in international politics, ways to measure and quantify human rights. The second part of the term explores explanations of human rights violations and repression, the actors who engage in this process and ways to improve human rights practices in countries around the world. At the end of this class, students should be able to answer the following questions: What are human rights and where do they come from? Why do governments protect or violate them? How do we improve human rights? Besides a substantive understanding of the topic of human rights and repression, students will develop an ability to engage in informed debates about human rights and have an improved ability to make logical, convincing oral and written arguments.

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Recommended reading list

Michaelmas Term

Required Readings:

  1. Gandhi, Jennifer. 2008. Political Institutions under Dictatorship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  2. Svolik, Milan. 2010. The Politics of Authoritarian Rule. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  3. Clark, William, Matt Golder, & Sona Golder. 2012. Principles of Comparative Politics. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
  4. Bueno de Mesquita, B., Smith, A., Siverson, R. M., and Morrow, J. D. (2005). The Logic of Political Survival. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Week 1. Comparative Research and Authoritarianism
Clark, William, Matt Golder, & Sona Golder. 2012. Principles of Comparative Politics. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. Chapter 2 and 5.
Gandhi. 2008. Chapter 1, pp. 1-12.
Svolik. 2010. Chapter 1, pp. 13-17.

Recommended readings:
Kellstedt, Paul, and Whitten, Guy. 2013. The Fundamentals of Political Science Research. 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press (Chapter 1 and 3).
Acemoglu, D. and Robinson, J. A. (2006). Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. Cambridge University Press, New York (Chapter 3 and 5).
Olson, M. (1993). Dictatorship, democracy, and development. American Political Science Review, 87(3): 567–576.
Dahl, R. A. (1973). Polyarchy: Participation and opposition. Yale University Press (Chapter 2 and 3).

Week 2: Varieties of authoritarian regimes
Geddes, B., Wright, J., and Frantz, E. (2014b). Autocratic breakdown and regime transitions: A new data set. Perspectives on Politics, 12(2):313–331.
Gandhi. 2008. Chapter 1, pp. 12-34.
Cheibub, J. A., Jennifer, G., and Vreeland, J. R. (2010). Democracy and dictatorship revisited. Public Choice, 143:67–101.

Recommended readings:
Weeks, J. L. (2012). Strongmen and straw men: Authoritarian regimes and the initiation of international conflict. American Political Science Review, 106(2):326–347.
Geddes, B., Frantz, E., and Wright, J. G. (2014a). Military rule. Annual Review of Political Science, 17:147–162.
Levitsky, S. and Way, L. (2002). The rise of competitive authoritarianism. Journal of Democracy, 13(2):51–65.

Week 3 – Other Varieties of authoritarianism
Svolik. 2010. Chapter 2, pp. 19-39.
Bueno de Mesquita, B., Smith, A., Siverson, R. M., and Morrow, J. D. (2005). The Logic of Political Survival. Cambridge: MIT Press chapter 2.
Wilson, M. C. (2013). A discreet critique of discrete regime type data. Comparative Political Studies, 47(5):689–714.

Wintrobe, R. (2000). The Political Economy of Dictatorship. New York: Cambridge University Press (Chapter 1).
Diamond, Larry. 2002. “Thinking about Hybrid regimes”. Journal of Democracy 13: 21-35.
Schedler, Andreas. 2002. “Elections without Democracy: The Menu of Manipulation”. Journal of Democracy 13(2).
Gandhi, J. and Lust, E. (2009). Elections under authoritarianism. Annual Review of Political Science, 12:403–422.

Week 4: Problems of authoritarian rule
Svolik. 2010. Chapters 3 and 5.
Jennifer Gandhi and Adam Przeworski (2007). Authoritarian Institutions and the Survival of Autocrats. Comparative Political Studies, 40(11):  1279-1301.

Recommended readings:
Magaloni, B. (2006). Voting for autocracy: Hegemonic party survival and its demise in Mexico. (Chapter 1).
Magaloni, B. (2008). Credible power-sharing and the longevity of authoritarian rule. Comparative Political Studies41(4-5): 715-741.
Magaloni, B. (2010). The game of electoral fraud and the ousting of authoritarian rule. American Journal of Political Science54(3): 751-765.

Week 5: Institutional and economic co-optation
Gandhi. 2008. Chapter 3.
Svolik. 2010. Chapter 6.

Recommended readings:
Jensen, N. and Wantchekon, L. (2004). Resource wealth and political regimes in africa. Comparative Political Studies, 37(7):816–841.
Ross, M. (2001). Does oil hinder democracy? World Politics, 53:325–361.
Haber, S. and Menaldo, V. (2011). Do natural resources fuel authoritarianism? A reappraisal of the resource curse. American Political Science Review, 105(1):1–26.
Ulfelder, J. (2007). Natural resource wealth and the survival of autocracies. Comparative Political Studies, 40(8):995–1018.
Truex, R. (2014). The returns to office in a “rubber stamp” parliament. American Political Science Review, 108(2):235–251.

Week 6 – Coercion
Rivera, M. (2017). Authoritarian Institutions and State Repression: The Divergent Effects of Legislatures and Opposition Parties on Personal Integrity Rights. Journal of Conflict Resolution61(10): 2183-2207.
Escribà-Folch, A. (2013). Repression, political threats, and survival under autocracy. International Political Science Review34(5): 543-560.

Recommended readings:
Whitten-Woodring, J. (2009). Watchdog or lapdog? media freedom, regime type and government respect for human rights. International Studies Quarterly Journal of Economics, 53:595–625.
Frantz, E., & Kendall-Taylor, A. (2014). A dictator’s toolkit: Understanding how co-optation affects repression in autocracies. Journal of Peace Research51(3): 332-346.
Davenport, C. (2007). State repression and the tyrannical peace. Journal of Peace Research44(4): 485-504.
Conrad, C. (2011). Constrained concessions: Dictatorial responses to domestic political opposition. International Studies Quarterly, 55(4):1167–1187.
King, G., Pan, J., and Roberts, M. E. (2013). How censorship in china allows government criticism but silences collective expression. American Political Science Review, 107(2):2.

Week 7. Government performance under dictatorship
Gandhi. 2008. Chapters 4-5.
Clark, Golder and Golder. 2012. Chapter 10, pp. 384-402.

Wright, J. (2008). Do authoritarian institutions constrain? How legislatures affect economic growth and investment. American Journal of Political Science, 52(2): 322–343.
Helmke, G. and Rosenbluth, F. (2009). Regimes and rule of law: Judicial independence in comparative perspective. Annual Reviews in Political Science, 12: 345–366.
Georgy Egorov, Sergei Guriev, and Konstantin Sonin (2009). “Why Resource-Poor Dictators Allow Freer Media: A Theory and Evidence from Panel Data,” American Political Science Review, 103(4): 645-668.
Peter H. Solomon, Jr. (2007). Courts and Judges in Authoritarian Regimes, World Politics, 60: 122-145.

Week 8 – Authoritarianism and conflict
Fjelde, H. (2010). Generals, dictators, and kings: Authoritarian regimes and civil conflict, 1973-2004. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 27(3): 195–218.
Wilson, M. and Piazza, J. (2013). Autocracies and terrorism: Conditioning effects of authoritarian regime-type on terrorist attacks. American Journal of Political Science, 57(4):941–955.

Recommended readings:
Debs, A. and Goemans, H. (2010). Regime type, the fate of leaders, and war. American Political Science Review, 104(3):430–445.
Weeks, J. L. (2008). Autocratic audience costs: Regime type and signalling resolve. International Organization, 62: 35–64
Hegre, H et al. (2001). Toward a democratic civil peace? Democracy, political change, and civil war, 1816–1992. American political science review95(1), 33-48.
Vreeland, J. R. (2008). The effect of political regime on civil war: Unpacking anocracy. Journal of conflict Resolution52(3), 401-425.
Conrad, C. R., Conrad, J., & Young, J. K. (2014). Tyrants and terrorism: Why some autocrats are terrorized while others are not. International Studies Quarterly58(3): 539-549.

Week 9: Survival of dictators and regime change
Gandhi. 2008. Chapter 6.
Svolik. 2010. Chapter 2, pp. 39-43; Chapter 4.

Albertus, M. and Menaldo, V. (2012). If you’re against them you’re with us: the effect of expropriation on autocratic survival. Comparative Political Studies, 45(8):973–1003.
Brownlee, J. (2007b). Hereditary succession in modern autocracies. World Politics, 59(4):595–628.
Hellman, J. S. (1998). Winners take all: The politics of partial reform in postcommunist transitions. World Politics, 50(2):203–234.
Miller, M. K. (2012). Economic development, violent leader removal, and democratization. American Journal of Political Science, 56(4): 1002–1020.
Roberts, T. L. (2015). The durability of presidential and parliament-based dictatorships. Comparative Political Studies48(7): 915-948.
Kim, N. K., & Kroeger, A. M. (2018). Regime and leader instability under two forms of military rule. Comparative Political Studies51(1): 3-37.

Week 10 – Mobilization and democratization
Celestino, M. R., & Gleditsch, K. S. (2013). Fresh carnations or all thorn, no rose? Nonviolent campaigns and transitions in autocracies. Journal of Peace Research50(3): 385-400.
Kadivar, M. A. (2018). Mass Mobilization and the Durability of New Democracies. American Sociological Review83(2): 390-417.

Bayer, M., Bethke, F. S., & Lambach, D. (2016). The democratic dividend of nonviolent resistance. Journal of Peace Research53(6): 758-771.
Stephan, M. J., & Chenoweth, E. (2008). Why civil resistance works: The strategic logic of nonviolent conflict. International security33(1): 7-44.
Beatriz Magaloni and Jeremy Wallace, “Citizen Loyalty, Mass Protest and Authoritarian Survival.” Draft paper.

Week 11: Democracy consolidation
Svolik, M. W. (2015). Which democracies will last? Coups, incumbent takeovers, and the dynamic of democratic consolidation. British Journal of Political Science45(4): 715-738.
Beresford, A., Berry, M. E., & Mann, L. (2018). Liberation movements and stalled democratic transitions: reproducing power in Rwanda and South Africa through productive liminality. Democratization: 1-20.
Ansell, B., & Samuels, D. (2010). Inequality and democratization: A contractarian approach. Comparative Political Studies43(12): 1543-1574.

Hilary Term

Required Readings:

  1. Donnelly, Jack.  2013.  Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice. 3rd ed. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  2. Goodhart, Michael, ed. 2013.  Human Rights: Politics & Practice.  2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press.
  3. Carey, Sabine C., Mark Gibney, and Steven C. Poe. 2010. “The Politics of Human Rights: The Quest for Dignity.” Cambridge University Press.
  4. Glendon, Mary Ann.  2001. A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. New York: Random House

Week 1- Introduction
Eric Posner (2014). The case against human rights, The Guardian. Available at:

Week 2 – What are human rights? Where do they come from?
Donnelly 2013, Chapter 1.
Carey, Gibney, Poe (2010) Chapter 1.
Glendon 2001, Chapters 3-5.

Recommended readings:
Carey, Gibney, Poe (2010) Ch.2, Ch.3, and Ch.4
Nadelmann, E. A. (1990). Global prohibition regimes: The evolution of norms in international society. International Organization44(4): 479-526.
Shestack, J. J. (2017). The philosophic foundations of human rights. In Human Rights (pp. 3-36). Routledge.
Makau Savages, M. (2001). Victims and Saviours: The Metaphor of Human Rights’. Harvard International Law Journal42, 201.
Moravcsik, A. (2000). The origins of human rights regimes: Democratic delegation in postwar Europe. International Organization54(2), 217-252.

Week 3 – Human Rights and International Law
Donnelly 2013, Chapters 2 & 4.
Smith 2013, “Human Rights in International Law” – from Goodhart 2013.

Recommended readings:
Abbott, K. W. (1999). International relations theory, international law, and the regime governing atrocities in internal conflicts. American Journal of International Law93(2), 361-379.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):  
International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR):  
Optional Protocol to the ICCPR:  
Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR:
International Covenant on Economic, Social, & Cultural Rights (ICESCR):  
Optional Protocol to the ICESCR:

Week 4 – Universalism and Relativism
Donnelly, J. (1984). Cultural relativism and universal human rights. Human Rights Quarterly, 6(4): 400-419.
Kalev, H. D. (2004). Cultural rights or human rights: The case of female genital mutilation. Sex roles51(5-6): 339-348.

Recommended readings:
European Court of Human Rights Decision on “Osmanoglu and Kocabas v. Switzerland – compulsory mixed swimming lessons and religious convictions”:
Droogers, A., An-baím, A. A., & Gort, J. D. (1995). Cultural Relativism and Universal Human Rights?. Human Rights and Religious Values: An Uneasy Relationship?8, 78.
Donnelly 2013, Chapters 6 and 7.
Franck, Thomas. “Are Human Rights Universal?” Foreign Affairs (January/Feb. 1997)
Sigali Samuel (2018). Banning Muslim Veils Tends to Backfire – Why Do Countries Keep Doing It?. The Atlantic:

Week 5 – Conceptualization and measurement of HR
Landman, T. (2004). Measuring human rights: Principle, practice, and policy. Human Rights Quarterly26: 906-931.
Fukuda-Parr, S., Lawson-Remer, T., & Randolph, S. (2009). An index of economic and social rights fulfilment: concept and methodology. Journal of Human Rights8(3): 195-221.
Wood, R. M., & Gibney, M. (2010). The Political Terror Scale (PTS): A re-introduction and a comparison to CIRI. Human Rights. Quarterly32: 367-400.

Recommended readings:
Todd Landman and Edzia Carvalho (2009) Measuring Human Rights, London: Routledge.
Brysk, Allison. 1994. “The Politics of Measurement: The Contested Count of the Disappearance in Argentina” Human Rights Quarterly, 16(4):676-692.
Fariss, C. J. (2014). Respect for human rights has improved over time: Modelling the changing standard of accountability. American Political Science Review108(2), 297-318.
Ball, P., Asher, J., Sulmont, D., & Manrique, D. (2003). How many Peruvians have died. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Landman, T., Kernohan, D., & Gohdes, A. (2012). Relativizing Human Rights. Journal of human rights11(4), 460-485.

Week 6 – The Political Science of Human Rights
Landman, T. (2005). The political science of human rights. British Journal of Political Science35(3), 549-572.
Hill, Daniel W., and Zachary M. Jones (2014). An empirical evaluation of explanations for state repression. American Political Science Review 108(3): 661-687.

Recommended readings:
Todd Landman (2016) ‘Rigorous Morality: Norms, Values and the Comparative Politics of Human Rights,’ Human Rights Quarterly, 38 (1): 1-20.
Poe, S. C. (2004). The decision to repress. Understanding human rights violations: new systematic studies. Aldershot: Ashgate, 16-42.
Englehart, N. A. (2009). State capacity, state failure, and human rights. Journal of Peace Research46(2), 163-180.
Poe, S. C., Tate, C. N., & Keith, L. C. (1999). Repression of the human right to personal integrity revisited: A global cross‐national study covering the years 1976–1993. International studies quarterly43(2), 291-313.
Richards, D. L., Webb, A., & Clay, K. C. (2015). Respect for physical-integrity rights in the twenty-first century: Evaluating Poe and Tate's model 20 years later. Journal of Human Rights14(3), 291-311.

Week 7 – Dissent and Repression
Davenport, C. (2007). State repression and political order. Annual Review of Political Science, 10: 1-23.
Moore, W. H. (2000). The repression of dissent: A substitution model of government coercion. Journal of conflict resolution44(1): 107-127.

Recommended readings:
Davenport, C. (1995). Multi-dimensional threat perception and state repression: An inquiry into why states apply negative sanctions. American Journal of Political Science, 683-713.
Sullivan, C. M. (2016). Undermining resistance: Mobilization, repression, and the enforcement of political order. Journal of Conflict Resolution60(7), 1163-1190.
Sullivan, C. M. (2016). Political repression and the destruction of dissident organizations: Evidence from the archives of the Guatemalan national police. World Politics68(4), 645-676.
Moore, W. H. (1998). Repression and dissent: Substitution, context, and timing. American Journal of Political Science, 851-873.
Ritter, E. H., & Conrad, C. R. (2016). Preventing and responding to dissent: The observational challenges of explaining strategic repression. American Political Science Review110(1), 85-99.
Nordås, Ragnhild, and Christian Davenport. 2013. “Fight the youth: Youth bulges and state repression.” American Journal of Political Science 57(4): 926-940.

Week 8 – Institutional Explanations of repression
Mason, T. David and Krane. 1989. The Political Economy of Death Squads: Toward a Theory of the Impact of State-Sanctioned Terror. International Studies Quarterly, 33(2): 175-198.
Cingranelli, David, and Mikhail Filippov (2010). Electoral rules and incentives to protect human rights. The Journal of Politics 72(1): 243-257.
Conrad, C. R., Hill Jr, D. W., & Moore, W. H. (2018). Torture and the limits of democratic institutions. Journal of Peace Research55(1), 3-17.

Recommended readings:
Abouharb, M. R., Moyer, L. P., & Schmidt, M. (2013). De facto judicial independence and physical integrity rights. Journal of Human Rights12(4), 367-396.
Davenport, C. (2007). State repression and the domestic democratic peace. Cambridge University Press.
Pereira, A. W. (2005). Political (in) justice: authoritarianism and the rule of law in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. University of Pittsburgh Press.

Week 9 – Principals and agents of repression

Cingranelli, David, Paola Fajardo-Heyward, and Mikhail Filippov (2014). "Principals, agents and human rights." British Journal of Political Science 44(3): 605-630.

Neil Mitchell, Sabine Carey and Christopher Butler. (2014). "The Impact of Pro Government Militias on Human Rights Violations."  International Interactions: 40(5): 812-836. 

Recommended readings:

Butler, Christopher K., Tali Gluch, and Neil Mitchell. 2007. “Security Forces and Sexual Violence: A Cross-National Analysis of a Principal-Agent Argument.” Journal of Peace Research 44 (6): 669-687

Sabine Carey, Michael Colaresi and Neil Mitchell. 2015. "Governments, Informal Links to Militias, and Accountability." Journal of Conflict Resolution. 59(5): 850-876. 

Berkowitz, J. M. (2018). Delegating Terror: Principal–Agent Based Decision Making in State Sponsorship of Terrorism. International Interactions44(4), 709-748.

Ong, L. H. (2018). Thugs and Outsourcing of State Repression in China. The China Journal80(1).

Mitchell, N. (2004). Agents of atrocity: Leaders, followers, and the violation of human rights in civil war. Springer.Downes, A. B. (2006). Desperate times, desperate measures: The causes of civilian victimization in war. International Security30(4), 152-195.

Week 10 – International intervention and Human Rights
DeMeritt, J. H. (2015). Delegating death: Military intervention and government killing. Journal of Conflict Resolution59(3): 428-454.  
Krain, M. (2005). International intervention and the severity of genocides and politicides. International Studies Quarterly49(3): 363-387.

Recommended readings:
Carey, Gibney, Poe (2010). Chapter 6
Karim, Sabrina and Kyle Beardsley. 2016. “Explaining Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Peacekeeping Missions.” Journal of Peace Research 53 (1): 100-115.
Louis Henkin. “Kosovo and the Law of ‘Humanitarian Intervention’.” The American Journal of International Law 93(4): 824-828.
Adam Roberts “Humanitarian War: Military Intervention and Human Rights.” International Affairs 69(3): 429-449.
Kelly Kate Pease and David P. Forsythe. “Human Rights, Humanitarian Intervention, and World Politics.” Human Rights Quarterly 15(1): 290-314.

Week 11 – NGOs and Human Rights
Bell, Clay, and Murdie 2012. Neighborhood Watch: Spatial Effects of Human Rights INGOs. The Journal of Politics74(2): 354-368.
Krain, Matthew (2012). J'accuse! Does naming and shaming perpetrators reduce the severity of genocides or politicides?. International Studies Quarterly, 56(3): 574-589.
Meernik, James, Aloisi, R., Sowell, M., & Nichols, A. (2012). The impact of human rights organizations on naming and shaming campaigns. Journal of Conflict Resolution 56(2): 233-256.

Recommended readings:
Risse, T., Ropp, S. C., & Sikkink, K. (Eds.). (2013). The persistent power of human rights: From commitment to compliance (Vol. 126). Cambridge University Press.
Murdie, A. M., & Davis, D. R. (2012). Shaming and blaming: Using events data to assess the impact of human rights INGOs. International Studies Quarterly56(1), 1-16.
Barry, C. M., Chad Clay, K., & Flynn, M. E. (2013). Avoiding the spotlight: Human rights shaming and foreign direct investment. International Studies Quarterly57(3), 532-544.
Murdie, Amanda and Tavishi Bhasin. 2011. “Aiding and Abetting? Human Rights INGOs and Domestic Anti-Government Protest" Journal of Conflict Resolution. 55(2): 163-191.
Hendrix, Cullen S., and Wendy H. Wong. 2013. “When is the Pen Truly Mighty? Regime Type and the Efficacy of Naming and Shaming in Curbing Human Rights Abuses.” British Journal of Political Science 43(3): 651-672.

Assessment details

The grade for this course will be calculated as follows:

  • In-class presentation (20%): Students will research the political biographies of select dictators’ background (how s/he obtained office, major events and ruling style, and how s/he left office) and give a presentation to the class on their assigned date. Students will select the dictator they want to focus in the first week of class and no two students are allowed to present/research on the same dictator.

Important note: The presentations should be no longer than 10 minutes.Grading will be based on clarity of exposition and quality of the content. Presenters are expected to be able to respond to questions from the audience. Students need to send the presentation via e-mail one day before.

  • Final essay (30%): Students are required to submit an essay on a chosen dynamic of authoritarian politics (co-optation, coercion, survival, economic performance, democratization). A good essay needs to present a good research question/puzzle, existing research on the topic and its main assumptions, arguments and findings. The students are encouraged to critically analyse these. Then, the students should engage with this literature in trying to provide their own argument(s) and offer examples to support their assertions.


Important note: The word count of the essay is 3,000 words (including title, footnotes, and references). The essay is due at the end of the last week of class (2nd December 2018 at 6 PM). The students are encouraged to select their own research questions. The student can select their own research question for the essay, but they are encouraged to discuss it with their lecturer.

  • Human Rights practices case comparison (20%): Students will use Amnesty International and/or US State Departments human rights reports to produce a 500-750 (including footnotes and references) comparative report for human rights practices. The student can choose between the following options in producing the report (select only one option):
    • Select two different countries from the same region and year, select one of the two sources (Amnesty International OR US State Department) and compare their human rights practices.
    • Select one single country in any given year (e.g. Angola 1987) and compare the contents of both the reports of Amnesty International and US State Department.
    • Select one single country, but pick two different years at least 10 years apart. Select one source (Amnesty International OR State Department) and compare the reports for these two years.

The texts of all the reports can be found at the following sources:

  • The US State Department reports can be found at: Please note that they are available in an electronic format only starting with 1999.
  • Amnesty International reports can be found using Google Search with the following syntax: Amnesty International Report (Year): e.g. Amnesty International Report 1996.
  • The text of all the reports from Amnesty and State Department for the period 1976-2014 can be found at the following link: The file containing these reports is called
Important note: This assignment is due at the end of week 6 of class (3rd March 2019 at 6 PM). A tutorial on how to obtain the reports and more information on the expectations of this assignment will be provided in class.
  1. Final essay (30%): Students are required to submit an essay exploring one topic related to human rights and state repression.

Important note: The word count of the essay is 3,000 words (including title, footnotes, and references). The essay is due at the end of the last week of class (15th April 2019 at 6PM). The students are encouraged to select their own research question. The student can select their own research question for the essay, but they are encouraged to discuss it with their lecturer.

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