2019 Silencing Their Critics: How Effective Are Governments in Restricting Civil Society? (with Kristin M. Bakke, Neil Mitchell and Dominic Perera).

Abstract: International ‘naming and shaming’ campaigns rely on domestic civil society organizations to provide information on local human rights conditions. Earlier research takes this flow of information for granted. Yet, some governments restrict CSOs to silence criticism, for example limiting access to funding. Are such government-imposed restrictions effective? Do they reduce international ‘naming and shaming’ campaigns that rely on information by domestic CSOs? We argue that on the one hand, restrictions may reduce CSOs’ ability and motives to monitor local abuses. On the other hand, CSOs may mobilize against restrictions and find new ways of delivering information on abuses to international publics. Using a novel cross-national dataset and in-depth evidence from Egypt, we find that few restrictions indeed trigger greater CSO activity, increasing international shaming. Yet, once governments impose multiple restrictions, it becomes harder for CSOs to adapt, resulting in fewer shaming campaigns.

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