Human rights pose a different dilemma from security, welfare and economic relations or the environment (Donnelly 2006). The human rights dilemma is not based on material interdependencies between states; human rights infringements in one state usually do not have any material effects on other states. The human rights dilemma derives ‘only’ from moral interdependencies across state borders: human rights violations in one, often authoritarian, state can give rise to moral outrage in other, usually democratic, states; giving rise to an active international human rights policy (Liese 2006a; Risse & Sikkink 1999: 22–4). The existence of such international moral interdependencies crucially depends on the activities of transnational networks of human rights organizations which construct local human rights violations as global problems which require governance beyond the nation-state (see Rittberger et al. 2010: 617–22). Even more than in other issue areas, global human rights problems are socially constructed rather than naturally given issues of international governance. Despite a growing global concern for human rights and an almost universal (at least rhetorical) acceptance of basic human rights, there remains for each individual state the temptation to keep the costs of its human rights policy as low as possible, or even to pass them on to others.
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