By directly affecting democratization, globalization, domestic conflict, and interstate conflict, the end of the Cold War was hypothesized to exert an indirect effect on the propensity of governments to respect the human rights of their citizens. The findings for a sample of 79 countries showed that torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial killings continued at about the same rate even after the Cold War ended. However, after the end of the Cold War, there was significant improvement in government respect for the right against political imprisonment. Contrary to expectations, it was found that governments that decreased their involvement in interstate conflict or experienced decreased domestic conflict did not tend to increase respect for the right against political imprisonment. As hypothesized, it was found that governments that became more democratic or increased their participation in the global economy after the end of the Cold War tended to manifest higher levels of respect for the right of their citizens not to be politically imprisoned. However, a closer look at several recent examples of democratization in Africa suggests that any human rights improvements resulting from post-Cold War democratization may be short-lived. In the cases examined, improved government respect for the right against political imprisonment resulted from short-term manipulations by the leaders of 'illiberal' or 'demonstration' democracies who were not committed to democratization or to the advancement of the human rights of their citizens.
Replication datasets available