Do human rights violations cause internal conflict?

Oskar N.T. Thoms, James Ron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


This article outlines a human rights framework for analyzing violent internal conflict, "translating" social-scientific findings on conflict risk factors into human rights language. It is argued that discrimination and violations of social and economic rights function as underlying causes of conflict, creating the deep grievances and group identities that may, under some circumstances, motivate collective violence. Violations of civil and political rights, by contrast, are more clearly identifiable as direct conflict triggers. Abuse of personal integrity rights is associated with escalation, and intermediately repressive regimes appear to be most at risk. Denial of political participation rights is associated with internal conflict because full democracies experience less conflict. Yet democratization itself is dangerous, since regime transition is also a major conflict risk factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)674-705
Number of pages32
JournalHuman Rights Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes


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