I study the international determinants of government respect for human rights, as well as the effect of political processes surrounding human rights on other policy outcomes. Thus, on one hand, much of my research focuses on the effects of international law, organizations, advocacy, and events on country-level respect for human rights. On the other hand, I have also engaged in research aimed at determining how government respect for human rights, the advocacy efforts of international human rights organizations, human rights sanctions, and other rights-related factors affect other international outcomes, such as the disbursement of foreign aid and foreign direct investment (FDI).
Furthermore, while there is a large quantitative literature focused on exploring the areas of civil and political rights, with a particular focus on physical integrity, the literature on other internationally-recognized human rights, such as economic and labor rights, remains underdeveloped. As such, much of my research has focused on properly measuring respect for economic and labor rights and developing theories that explain variation in such respect.
Political Violence, Civil Conflict, and Organized Dissent
I am also interested in the underlying determinants of political violence, civil war, and other forms of civil unrest, particularly as they relate to the decisions made by the target government as well as political entrepreneurs and government leaders abroad. For instance, I am quite interested in how governments choose to respond to perceived internal threats and the government and opposition attributes that make repression, accommodation, or some combination thereof more likely. Furthermore, I am curious about the degree to which civil unrest in one state affects government policy and opposition behavior in other states. Indeed, much of my recent research concerns the lessons that governments and opposition movements take from events in other states and thus, how such events influence outcomes elsewhere.
Spatial EconometricsFrom a methodological standpoint, I am very interested in exploring the causes of the spatial dependence that is often present, but rarely acknowledged, in many of the political outcomes studied in both international relations and comparative politics. While spatial autocorrelation should be a concern for all social scientists attempting to develop valid statistical tests of their theories, it can also serve as an interesting harbinger of important processes that we have yet to properly explore theoretically. In particular, I am highly interested in how actors in different states learn from the policies and practices of similar actors in other states with which they are connected. I believe these learning processes can explain a great deal of the apparent spatial dependence and diffusion observed in various political outcomes.