When does the IMF pay attention to human rights reputations?

By Lael Weinberger

Political Science

An interesting study of when the IMF pays attention to the human rights records of its client nations is out in the latest issue of Political Studies: Byungwon Woo and Amanda Murdie, "International Organizations and Naming and Shaming: Does the International Monetary Fund Care about the Human Rights Reputation of Its Client?" The abstract is as follows:

Does a country’s abuse of human rights influence its ability to get a loan from the International Monetary Fund? We examine whether human rights conditions matter for the likelihood that a country participates in an International Monetary Fund program. We argue that human rights conditions are unlikely to be enough by themselves to influence International Monetary Fund decision-making; there are simply too many countries with poor human rights conditions that are under economic distress. Instead, it is the publicity and information that human rights organizations provide about countries that reduce the likelihood of International Monetary Fund program participation. We test the implications of this reasoning in a global analysis from 1990 to 2009 using an accepted model of International Monetary Fund program participation. We find much support for our hypothesis. We further demonstrate that it is those countries closer to the United States that are most likely to have human rights organization information reduce their likelihood of International Monetary Fund program participation.