US Human Rights Shaming Data: Who the US Shames, When, about What, And How Intensely

Data Generation in Progress, Previous version presented at 2021 Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Conference, 2022


US Human Rights Shaming Data provides information about the US government’s mentions on other countries’ domestic human rights practice. The data covers dyadic shaming events between the US and 195 potential target countries, across 24 years (1997-2021) and 13 categories of issues. This paper argues that this data is a more valid and reliable measurement of bilateral shaming behavior than all other existing data, in three ways. First, it is the first data on governmental shaming as appears in official documents and speeches, avoiding the well documented bias of media coding. This paper also argues that the most commonly used data to measure international shaming behavior - multilateral shaming records at the UNHRC, OAS, and EU - is not apt for the theoretical question, and explain why my data avoids the problem. Second, it is the first data that goes beyond coding binary shaming event but measures the intensity of shaming language on a continuous numerical scale. Third, it is much more transparent. The validity and the reliability of the data is not only demonstrated by performance evaluation metrics, but also supported by thorough documentation on how the researcher’s theoretical assumptions about the specific political text informs the preprocessing steps, supervised topic classification, and sentiment coding.

Presentation Title: Shaming as Human Rights Diplomacy: Who Does US Name And Shame And When?

Presentation Abstract

Can the established theories of US foreign policy making explain US shaming behavior? As the first study to directly examine the US conduct of shaming using large-N analysis, this paper joins the recent scholarly interest in theorizing shaming as human rights diplomacy. Using original data on US shaming on 195 potential target countries across two US presidencies in 2001-2016 collected from 17,275 press releases from the State Department, I find considerable evidence that the domestic public is less of a concern in the US’ decision to shame human rights violators, while national security interest still effectively explains who the US shames and when. The results also show that the Bush administration is more reluctant than the Obama administration to risk undermining national security interest in order to advance human rights. While being a preliminary test, this research highlights the importance of understanding the determinants of state-issued shaming before drawing inferences about the effectiveness of shaming.