International Studies and Languages
Newspapers print alarming headlines when foreign governments hire U.S.-based lobbyists to promote their interests in Washington D.C. But does foreign lobbying systematically affect U.S. foreign policy? We provide an analysis of the influence of foreign lobbying on one important component of U.S. foreign policy: the evaluation of human rights practices abroad. U.S. human rights ratings can have a large impact on American foreign policy. They affect foreign aid, sanctions, and trade. Thus, we expect that many countries seek to tilt State Department Country Reports on Human Rights in their favor through information they provide to U.S.-based lobbyists. Our statistical analysis of these State Department reports and lobbying data from the Foreign Agent Registration Act between 1976-2012 shows that, holding other factors equal, more foreign lobbying leads to more favorable U.S. human rights reports—when compared to both previous reports and Amnesty International reports. Furthermore, our findings contribute to the growing literature on performance indicators like human rights ratings by highlighting the politics of how those ratings are generated.
International Studies Quarterly
Pevehouse, J. C., & Vabulas, F. (2019). Nudging the needle: Foreign lobbies and us human rights ratings. International Studies Quarterly, 63(1), 85-98. https://doi.org/10.1093/isq/sqy052