Filling Empty Promises? Foreign Aid and Human Rights Decoupling

Friday, 20 July 2018: 17:48
Oral Presentation
Liam SWISS, Department of Sociology, Memorial University, Canada
Qian WEI, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada
After the Cold War, the priorities of aid donor countries shifted from political and military strategy to social and economic development, with special emphasis on the improvement of governance. This rhetorical support for good governance has not always met with support in terms of aid funding and, in many cases, aid recipient countries still show very limited implementation of good governance practices such as the protection of human rights. What role does aid play in closing these human rights decoupling gaps? Does aid targeted at better governance promote a tighter coupling of human rights policy and practice in aid recipient countries? This article draws upon sociological institutionalism, proposes a framework to explore the impact of foreign aid on good governance and human rights, and examines these effects empirically. Longitudinal regression analysis on a sample of 150 aid recipient countries between 1981 and 2015 is used to examine the aid-human rights decoupling relationship and to provide a better understanding of how and where aid might be predicted to promote tighter coupling of human rights rhetoric and practice in the future.