Does cultural diversity affect countries' respect for human rights?

Scott Walker, Steven C. Poe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we will examine the relationship between cultural diversity (which we also will call ethnic heterogeneity or fractionalization) and the respect for several human rights outlined in these documents. The rights we will examine empirically include the right to physical (or personal) integrity, the right to subsistence, and political and civil rights including the right to equal treatment regardless of gender. Toward this end, we will first argue that internationally recognized human rights are increasingly being used as standards to measure the performance of regimes and we will discuss the "core" human rights we will deal with here. Second, we will review the long history of theoretical discussions that tie diversity to effective governance. Third, drawing upon these theoretical treatments we will pose alternative hypotheses regarding the possible linkages. Finally we will conduct some simple, bivariate analyses designed to ascertain whether a multicultural society is conducive or detrimental to the human rights performance of regimes. In a concluding section we will summarize our findings and discuss our ideas for future research on the linkage between cultural diversity and human rights.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-263
Number of pages27
JournalHuman Rights Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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