M. Rodwan Abouharb
Associate Professor of International Relations
University College London
I am originally from Cardiff in South Wales of British and Syrian heritage. My undergraduate degree is in Politics and Modern History from Brunel University, part of the University of London group. I spent a couple of semesters at SUNY Brockport, part of the State University of New York system. As part of my undergraduate degree I researched for an MP in the House of Commons, and a U.S. Senator in the United State Senate in Washington, D.C. My post graduate degrees are from University at Buffalo, where I received my M.A. in Political Science and Binghamton University where I received my PhD in Political Science. I previously worked in the Department of Political Science at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
My research examines processes that affect the civility of relations between government and its citizens. In particular I am interested in how integration into the international economic system affects the onset of civil war and human rights abuses within countries. My individual and collaborative work, cross-national in nature, is conducted within the framework of behavioral political science. My current research agenda comprises three themes.
Globalization & Human Rights
The first of these themes examines part of the globalization process, the determinants and consequences of World Bank and IMF structural adjustment and separately the governance and human rights consequences of World Trade Organization membership. I have written a book with David Cingranelli, published by Cambridge University Press, entitled Structural Adjustment and Human Rights, which examines the impact of World Bank and IMF structural adjustment agreements on government respect for a variety of human rights. David Cingranelli and I have also written work examining the consequences of World Bank and IMF structural adjustment agreements on human rights published in International Studies Quarterly and The Review of International Organizations as well as two book chapters examining when countries enter into these agreements with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Currently we are working on a project with Mikhail Fillipov that compares the different effects of the international human rights and international financial regimes on economic and social rights. I am also working on a project with Erick Duchesne examining the economic growth consequences of World Bank structural adjustment agreements. Finally, I am working on a solo project examining the impact of structural adjustment on civil conflict. My research examining the consequences of WTO membership on democratic rights with Susan Aaronson was published in International Studies Quarterly. We have a separate paper examining the governance effects of WTO membership at World Trade Review and another examining how the WTO works in conflict zones at Journal of World Trade, and an article which examines the effect of WTO membership on international conflict in Global Economy Journal. Finally, a book chapter examining some of the de facto legal changes of WTO membership is in a volume edited by Thomas Perroud entitled Corruption and Conflicts of Interest: Comparative Law Insights.
Human Rights Repression, Domestic & International Stability
The second research theme examines how government repression of human rights affects domestic and international stability. I was co-Principal investigator with Susan Aaronson and Susan Gaines on a research grant of $425,000 from the U.S. Army Research Office. The grant, titled “State Repression and its Effects on Civil Conflict, and Leadership Tenure,” investigates the causal link between human rights repression and rebellion. We are interested in why government repression of human rights leads to rebellion in some countries, but not in others, and whether, in turn, different forms of protest result in different types of human rights repression. Finally, we examine how human rights repression affects leadership tenure across countries. It is a mixed methods project utilizing both large n-analyses and comparative case studies.
Rhetoric & Repression of Human Rights Within States
The third research theme examines the role of rhetoric on human rights violations. With Slava Mikhaylov, Dominik Schafluttzel, and I test part of the spiral model of human rights, which describes how leaders entrap themselves by their use of human rights rhetoric to subsequently improve their human rights records. We compile a new dataset of individual speeches made by representatives of 140 states in the United Nations Human Rights Council and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights over the period between 1989-2007. Methodologically, we develop a new method that we term “topic dependent scaling” that combines structural topic modeling with text scaling procedures to measure how states’ representatives’ rhetoric compares to their peer groups. We find that rhetorical entrapment improves these states subsequent domestic human rights practices.
Strategic use of Human Rights Repression & Evasion of Accountability Within States
Finally, I am interested in the strategic response of some governments to domestic and international scrutiny of their human rights records. With Caroline Payne and published in Journal of Human Rights we examined how states which ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights respond to increased scrutiny of their human rights records. Some states change the types of violations they utilise. They decrease their use of extra judicial killing and switch to the use of forced disappearances in order to evade accountability for their actions, as the latter are harder to prosecute.
- Abouharb, M. R.; Cingranelli, David; Filippov, Mikhail. 2019. “Too Many Cooks: Multiple International Principals Can Spoil the Quality of Governance.” Social Sciences. 8:5 139.
- Abouharb, M. Rodwan; Duchesne, Erick. 2019. “Economic Development and the World Bank.” Social Sciences. 8:5: 156.
- The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Strategic Shift to Forced Disappearance
- Do Non–Human Rights Regimes Undermine the Achievement of Economic and Social Rights?
- The WTO helps member states keep the peace only when it increases trade