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Courtenay R. Monroe

Professor of Political Science, University of California-Merced
Chapter Member: Sacramento SSN
Areas of Expertise:

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About Courtenay

Monroe's research focuses on political violence and human rights. Overarching themes in Monroe's writings include how repressive agents make decisions in the face of domestic and international institutional constraints.


Why Democracy Does Not Always Improve Human Rights

In the News

"When Do Countries Respond to Terrorism with Torture?," Courtenay R. Monroe (with Justin Conrad and James A. Piazza and James Igoe Walsh), The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, January 13, 2015.
Courtenay R. Monroe's research on torture allegations discussed by Rick Noack, "Most Countries are Against Torture — But Most Have Also been Accused of It," The Washington Post, December 12, 2014.
"Why Democracy Doesn’t Always Improve Human Rights," Courtenay R. Monroe, European Politics and Policy, London School of Economics Blog, September 5, 2014.
"Dictatorships and International Cooperation," Courtenay R. Monroe, International Studies Quarterly, March 26, 2014.


"Tyrants and Terrorism: Why Some Autocrats are Terrorized while Others are Not" (with Justin Conrad and Joseph K. Young). International Studies Quarterly (forthcoming).
Finds empirical evidence that dictatorships generating higher audience costs experience as much terrorism as democracies, while autocracies generating lower audience costs face fewer attacks than their democratic counterparts.
"Divergent Incentives for Dictators: Domestic Institutions and (International Promises Not to) Torture" Journal of Conflict Resolution (forthcoming).
Argues that although dictators face domestic incentives to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) and nonetheless engage in torture are moderated in countries with effective domestic judiciaries.
"Treaties, Tenure, and Torture: The Conflicting Domestic Effects of International Law" (with Emily Hencken Ritter). Journal of Politics 75, no. 2 (2013): 397-409.
Argues that international human rights treaties have no effect on government repression in countries where leaders are insecure in office, but have a positive effect on rights protection in countries headed by secure leaders.
"Constrained by the Bank and the Ballot: Unearned Revenue, Democracy, and State Incentives to Repress" (with Jacqueline H.R. DeMeritt). Journal of Peace Research 50, no. 1 (2013): 105-119.
Finds that democratic institutions have a moderating effect on the positive relationship between unearned revenues and human rights violations. Our results suggest that pursuing democracy is a useful way to reduce political violence, both directly and indirectly, even in the presence of a resource curse.
"Constrained Concessions: Dictatorial Responses to Domestic Opposition" International Studies Quarterly 55 (2012): 1167-1187.
Makes the case that dictators buy off some types of domestic political opposition with material concessions and liberalize when they face other types of domestic opposition. Because dictators often make decisions facing environmental constraints, however, I also argue that financial conditions can limit a dictator’s ability to respond beneficently to the opposition.
"What Stops the Torture?" (with Will H. Moore). American Journal of Political Science 54, no. 2 (2010): 459-476.
Shows that some liberal democratic institutions change the probability that leaders support the creation of institutions that discourage jailers and interrogators from engaging in torture, thus increasing the probability of a state terminating its use of torture. But states rarely terminate the use of torture when they face a threat.