A behavioral approach to human rights

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21 Scopus citations


For the last sixty years, scholars and practitioners of international human rights have paid insufficient attention to the ground level social contexts in which human rights norms are imbued with or deprived of social meaning. During the same time period, social science insights have shown that social conditions can have a significant impact on human behavior. This Article is the first to investigate the far-ranging implications of behavioralism-especially behavioral insights about social influence-for the international human rights regime. It explores design implications for three broad components of the regime: the content, adjudication, and implementation of human rights. In addition, the Article addresses some of the advantages and limitations of the behavioral approach and outlines the rich but unexplored nexus of behavioralism, norms, and international law.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-112
Number of pages62
JournalHarvard International Law Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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