Cohen 2012 Violence

Title Information

Authors: Dara Kay Cohen and Amelia Hoover Green

Title: Dueling incentives

Subtitle: Sexual violence in Liberia and the politics of human rights advocacy

Journal: Journal of Peace Research

Volume: 49

Issue: 3

Year: May 2012

Pages: 445-458

ISSN: 0022-3433 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1460-3578 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century, 21st Century | Liberian History | Types: Wartime Rape / First Liberian Civil War, Second Liberian Civil War

Full Text

Link: SAGE Journals [Restricted Access]

Additional Information


Dara Kay Cohen, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Amelia Hoover Green, Department of History and Politics, Drexel UniversityAuthor's Website

Abstract: »Transnational advocacy organizations are influential actors in the international politics of human rights. While political scientists have described several methods these groups use – particularly a set of strategies termed ‘information politics’ – scholars have yet to consider the effects of these tactics beyond their immediate impact on public awareness, policy agendas or the behavior of state actors. This article investigates the information politics surrounding sexual violence during Liberia’s civil war. We show that two frequently-cited ‘facts’ about rape in Liberia are inaccurate, and consider how this conventional wisdom gained acceptance. Drawing on the Liberian case and findings from sociology and economics, we develop a theoretical framework that treats inaccurate claims as an effect of ‘dueling incentives’ – the conflict between advocacy organizations’ needs for short-term drama and long-term credibility. From this theoretical framework, we generate hypotheses regarding the effects of information politics on (1) short-term changes in funding for human rights advocacy organizations, (2) short-term changes in human rights outcomes, (3) the institutional health of humanitarian and human rights organizations, and (4) long-run outcomes for the ostensible beneficiaries of such organizations. We conclude by outlining a research agenda in this area, emphasizing the importance of empirical research on information politics in the human rights realm, and particularly its effects on the lives of aid recipients.« (Source: Journal of Peace Research)


  Background and data (p. 447)
    Why these data sources? (p. 448)
  Evaluating claims about sexual violence in Liberia (p. 449)
    A1. A large majority of Liberian women suffered rape during the conflicts between 1989 and 2003 (p. 449)
    A2. Rape was the most common form of violence against women during the Liberian conflicts (p. 450)
  Dueling incentives: ‘Drama’ versus credibility (p. 451)
  Outlining a research agenda (p. 453)
  Acknowledgements (p. 455)
  References (p. 455)

Wikipedia: First Liberian Civil War, Second Liberian Civil War, War rape

Added: September 14, 2013 | Last updated: May 10, 2014