Naming and shaming

You Scratch My Back and I Scratch Yours

What motivates authoritarian states to participate in naming and shaming behaviors on human rights? The Universal Periodic Review is a unique process that requires all UN members to participate in peer review on human rights issues and has already finished its third cycle with active participation from all members since 2008. In this paper, we argue that authoritarian states use the peer review process as a means of legitimation. We expect the authoritarian states to be more lenient towards other authoritarian regimes to increase their legitimacy while being stricter towards democratic counterparts on critical issues to their regime stability. We test our expectations using a large-N sample of dyads in which we compare the peer reviews of the UPR between 2008 and 2019 with different dyads of democracies and authoritarian regimes.

Who Speaks and Who Listens?

Why are some countries more active in “shaming” others publicly? When states engage in naming and shaming towards one another’s performance in human rights, it is easily assumed that states with more capabilities and better human rights conditions would actively name and shame abusers. However, according to the previous research, states do not always shame abusers; states are more favorable and lenient to their friends. Building on this notion, I argue that the decision to shame another country publicly is also based on concerns with relative status in the international system as they participate in the process. By observing the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR), I find a curvilinear relationship between a state’s status and its shaming behaviors in UPR. States with middle status are more eager to participate, and if they are making recommendations, they tend to make more demanding ones.