December 10th was UN Human Rights Day, starting off Human Rights Week.  In many regards, 2013 has been a very good year for human rights practices around the world.  In other regards, 2013 has had some abysmal failures when it comes to human rights on the ground, especially the rights of sexual minorities.

For our academic understanding of human rights, 2013 has been a very good year, with many excellent and novel pieces published in political science.  Although this list is in no way exhaustive, let me highlight five of my favorite new articles of 2013 by (somewhat) junior IR scholars (all of which will appear on my updated graduate and undergraduate human rights syllabus):

Barry, Colin M., K. Chad Clay, and Michael E. Flynn. 2013. “Avoiding the Spotlight: Human Rights Shaming and Foreign Direct Investment.” 57(3): 532-544.

*Barry, Clay, and Flynn provide a very crucial empirical link for our understanding how shaming by human rights international non-governmental organizations is linked to changes in repressive behavior: human rights shaming leads to changes in multinational corporation investment. A must for any syllabus week on shaming and human rights outcomes.

Ellerby, Kara. 2013. “(En) gendered Security? The Complexities of Women’s Inclusion in Peace Processes.” International Interactions 39(4): 435-460.

*This whole special issue of International Interactions would be an excellent week on a political violence/human rights syllabus: the focus is on gender in peacekeeping/peacemaking.  I especially liked Ellerby’s theoretical overview and detailed empirical treatment of how peace agreements are or are not incorporated into the intrastate peace process.

Kingston, Lindsey N.  2013.  ““A Forgotten Human Rights Crisis”: Statelessness and Issue (Non) Emergence.”  Human Rights Review.  14(2): 73-87.

*Kingston builds on work on the Duck’s own Charli Carpenter to outline detailed and very policy-relevant implications about when a human rights grievance is translated into a human rights “issue.” Interviews with NGO leaders on the non-issue of statelessness provide empirical support for her overall framework.

Nielsen, Richard A.  2013.  “Rewarding Human Rights? Selective Aid Sanctions against Repressive States.”  International Studies Quarterly.  57(4): 791-803.

*Nielsen’s study is shockingly overdue.  Using some pretty advanced statistical methods, Nielsen gives us a very thorough picture of how repression can influence different types of aid but that not all states find their aid cut in the same ways: donors often do not sanction states that are important to them politically.

Wallace, Geoffrey P.R. 2013. “International Law and Public Attitudes toward Torture: An Experimental Study.” International Organization 67(1): 105-140

*Wallace does a fantastic job at getting at the mega-big questions in international relations about the role of international law while focusing specifically on public’s support for the use of torture.  Very cool experimental design.  Check out Wallace’s whole CV – chock-full of stuff I could have included on this list.

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