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United States Human Rights Policy and Foreign Assistance

Clair Apodaca, Michael Stohl
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0020-8833.00116 185-198 First published online: 1 March 1999


This study furthers the inquiry into the relationship between human rights and U.S. bilateral foreign aid. We build the most comprehensive data set to date, extending the time period (1976–1995) and enlarging the number of countries under review (140). Rhetoric aside, human rights considerations did play a role in determining whether or not a state received military aid during the Reagan and Bush administrations, but not for the Carter or Clinton administration. With the exception of the Clinton administration, human rights was a determinant factor in the decision to grant economic aid, albeit of secondary importance. To the question “Does a state's human rights record affect the amount of U.S. bilateral aid it receives?” we answer yes for economic aid, but no for military aid. Human rights considerations are neither the only nor the primary consideration in aid allocation.

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