Accepted paper:

Localizing human rights norms: how UPR affects countries it reviews worldwide and in Central Asia?


Medet Tiulegenov (American University of Central Asia)

Paper abstract:

Whether external efforts to democratize are successful has been studied from various perspectives in the literature. There is a proliferous scholarship on norms diffusion related to democratization and human rights, but most of it suffers from lack of nuances of what is being diffused and nuanced effects norm diffusion produces. This paper explores why and how countries adapt to external pressures, and what happens with inside out reaction at the receiving end of democratization efforts. There are two general streams of diffusion literature which are pertinent to this paper. One deals with diffusion mechanisms such as coercion, competition, emulation and learning (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998, Klingler-Vidra and Schleifer 2014) and another one analyzes the receiving end and localization (Acharya, 2004). This paper on one hand tests mechanisms of diffusion and studies patterns of localization and yet on other hand aims to find correlates related to the sending and receiving sides of human rights diffusion, which is quite an understudied area. This study is a two-fold. First it does cross-sectional analysis utilizing data developed by the UN Office of High Commissioner on Human Rights in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). UPR started in 2008 and by now almost all countries have gone at least through two cycles of review, when states voluntarily receive recommendations from other states on human rights issues. Cross-sectional analysis is performed of two UPR cycles where a state under review's response (rejection or acceptance) is viewed as a possible effect in regard to other variables related to UPR recommendations (issues, specificity, type of action recommended, region/joint IO membership with a recommender) and as well as variables drawn from other data sets (territorial adjacency, post/colonial network, trade/investment relations, aid dependency, history of mutual war/conflict). Second, this study applies findings of general cross-sectional analysis to three cases - Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan (as being more, less and lesser open to external pressures countries) - exploring more in depth general findings and putting them in a context of post-soviet Central Asia. A quantitative analysis is supplemented with the study of regime dynamics which affects localization of human rights norms.

panel POL-05
Autonomy, Civil Society, Participation