Who Says Human Rights are Not Respected? Assessing Local and Third Party Raings
Country ratings of human rights conditions are now quite popular in macro comparative research. However, little is known as to whether (or to what extent) these scores correspond with mass sentiment in each country. Do local ratings issued by the public correspond with third party ratings, such as those produced by the Cingranelli-Richards index (CIRI), the Political Terror Scale (PTS), and Freedom House (FH)? In this study, I address this question, drawing from the most recent wave of the World Values Survey (2010 – 2014), in which respondents from 59 countries are asked to assess the level of respect for individual human rights in their country. The findings generally suggest a positive association between local and third party ratings, and that local raters appear to be particularly responsive to the most severe violations of physical integrity rights. CIRI’s torture scale, PTS, and Fariss’ event-based measure (emphasizing the most extreme forms of repression) explain more of the between-country variation in local ratings than any of the other third party ratings analyzed. Nevertheless, there is also significant variation in human rights ratings within countries. In particular, survey respondents who are male, wealthy, politically conservative, and citizens offer significantly higher ratings than other individuals. Thus, while these results highlight between-country differences in human rights conditions, the local ratings illustrate the wide range of opinions that exist within countries.