Local human rights organizations (LHROs) are crucial allies in international efforts to promote human rights. Without support from organized civil society, efforts by transnational human rights reformers would have little effect. Despite their importance, we have little systematic information on the correlates of public trust in LHROs. To fill this gap, we conducted key informant interviews with 233 human rights workers from sixty countries, and then administered a new Human Rights Perceptions Poll to representative public samples in Mexico (n = 2,400), Morocco (n = 1,100), India (n = 1,680), and Colombia (n = 1,699). Our data reveal that popular trust in local rights groups is consistently associated with greater respondent familiarity with the rights discourse, actors, and organizations, along with greater skepticism toward state institutions and agents. The evidence fails to provide consistent, strong support for other commonly held expectations, however, including those about the effects of foreign funding, socioeconomic status, and transnational connections.
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© 2015 by The Johns Hopkins University Press.