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How International Organizations Change National Media Coverage of Human Rights

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 October 2022

Stephen Chaudoin*
Department of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
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How do international organizations change the discussion of human rights violations, and how does their message reach the broader public? I show that national media is a key conduit. I analyze media coverage from the Philippines to show that the content of media coverage of the “war on drugs” changed after a major decision by the International Criminal Court. The ICC increased the proportion of media coverage focusing on human rights by triggering contestation between pro- and anti-human-rights actors. Original survey experimental evidence shows that this coverage shift blunts the effect of ICC actions on support for the war on drugs. This highlights an indirect role for international organizations in shaping media coverage and helps explain why they have struggled to win public opinion battles. Though their actions amplify the voices of human rights supporters, media coverage concurrently amplifies the voices of their opponents, which can crowd out coverage that might otherwise have decreased support for problematic polices.

Research Note
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The IO Foundation

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