Transnational information politics: NGO human rights reporting, 1986-2000

James Ron, Howard Ramos, Kathleen Rodgers

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    244 Scopus citations


    What shapes the transnational activist agenda? Do non-governmental organizations with a global mandate focus on the world's most pressing problems, or is their reporting also affected by additional considerations? To address these questions, we study the determinants of country reporting by an exemplary transnational actor, Amnesty International, during 1986-2000. We find that while human rights conditions are associated with the volume of their country reporting, other factors also matter, including previous reporting efforts, state power, U.S. military assistance, and a country's media profile. Drawing on interviews with Amnesty and Human Rights Watch staff, we interpret our findings as evidence of Amnesty International's social movement-style "information politics." The group produces more written work on some countries than others to maximize advocacy opportunities, shape international standards, promote greater awareness, and raise its profile. This approach has both strengths and weaknesses, which we consider after extending our analysis to other transnational sectors.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)557-587
    Number of pages31
    JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Sep 1 2005


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