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The Effect of US Troop Deployments on Human Rights

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Journal of Conflict Resolution

Published online on


US noninvasion troops deployed abroad often try to promote greater respect for human rights in the host country. The host country, having an incentive to retain the troop presence, may choose to comply with these requests. We argue that this effect will not be at play in states with high security salience for the United States (US) (for which the US may not be able to credibly threaten to remove the troops). In these cases, US deployments will provide the leader with security from both internal and external threats that is independent of the local population’s support for the leader. Host state leaders thus become less reliant on (and potentially less responsive to) their local populations, which in turn may lead to increased human rights violations. In this article, we use data on both US troop deployments abroad and on human rights violations to test these arguments from 1982 to 2005.