Human Rights and Societies in Transition: Causes, Consequences, Responses

By Shale Horowitz; Albrecht Schnabel | Go to book overview

1
Human rights and societies in
transition: International context and
sources of variation

Shale Horowitz and Albrecht Schnabel

Human rights violations are often particularly severe in transition societies that are undergoing significant political, social, and economic transformation.1 Improving human rights practices in transition societies should therefore be a central goal for domestic reformers and the international community alike. This makes sense, not only because of the intrinsic value of improved human rights protection but also because of the indirect effects that such improvements have on democratization, economic development, and conflict resolution.

To address transitional human rights problems constructively it is necessary to understand both the international regime pushing for human rights improvements and the main sources of continuing violations. The international human rights regime consists of international and domestic norms and standards, on the one hand, and of practical promotion efforts by intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and sovereign state policies, on the other. The main sources of continuing violations are hypothesized to be political regime type and political leadership, political cultures and national identities, economic structures and interests, and civil and international military conflict. Transitional human rights violations are common because the international and domestic factors favouring improved human rights are so often overwhelmed by international and domestic factors favouring continued violations. In future, more constructive efforts to promote

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