Why Human Rights 2.0 Matters
February 15th, 2009

Paper prepared for presentation at the International Studies Association annual meeting in New York, February 15–18, 2009

‘The Blog vs Big Brother: Information and Communication Technologies and Human Rights, 1980–2005’

by: Lucía Liste Muñoz (Complutense University of Madrid, Spain) & Indra de Soysa, Professor of Political Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) & the Centre for the Study of Civil War, PRIO, Norway.

ABSTRACT: Information and Communications Technology (ICTs) mark the current wave of globalization. Skeptics of globalization, particularly neo-marxists, suggest that the new technology will hamstring governments at the expense of ordinary people, leading to exploitation and social dissatisfaction. Others suggest that the new technologies will empower people at the expense of states, improving human rights and social justice by raising the costs of social control by predatory rulers. We address the issue by specifically assessing the effects of older technologies relative to new ones, rather than what has been tested in large-N studies to date.
We find very clear results suggesting that new ICTs, particularly access to the internet, has benefits for human rights net of a whole host of controls when assessed against the effects of older technologies. Our results are robust to a host of different controls, testing methods, and to the inclusion of time trends as a separate variable. The results taken together do not provide cause for concern that new technologies will stifle human rights and social development, demobilizing dissent.

Read more about ISA 2009: Why Human Rights 2.0 Matters in this posting of Patrick Meier

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