Human Rights and Democratic Arms Transfers: Rhetoric Versus Reality with Different Types of Major Weapon Systems

Richard A.I. Johnson, Spencer Willardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Since the height of the Cold War, the policies of major democratic arms suppliers have stated that human rights violations in the importing state affect the decision to export. After the Cold War there was a greater focus by democratic suppliers on the importer’s human rights record. We examine the arms transfer patterns of the major democratic suppliers between 1976 and 2010 to determine empirically whether the patterns of transfers matches policy; we build on existing arms transfer literature by disaggregating exports based on weapons type. We argue that if practice matches policy, then democratic suppliers should not transfer weapons to states violating human rights. However, as global interests of these suppliers has shifted over time we condition our arguments by stating that if practice matches policy then there still may be transfers of major weapon systems, but of types that are not as useful for violating human rights. We run models for each major democratic supplier from 1976-2010 and also run split samples by theoretically informed time periods. We find that the major democratic suppliers generally do not account for human rights violations in the importing state, with the one exception being the United States transfer of land weapon systems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Oct 1 2017

Keywords

  • Arms Transfers
  • Human Rights
  • Major Weapons Systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations

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