Peter Haschke


Although my research interests broadly lie in the field of comparative politics, my work spans several subfields and aims to be interdisciplinary, drawing on comparative politics, international relations, American politics, and political methodology. My current research centers on political violence and investigates human rights in the developing and developed world.

Recently Published Work

Human Rights in Democracies

Violations of the right to the physical integrity of the person, such as torture, cruel and unusual punishment, extra-judicial executions, disappearances, and political imprisonment have long been treated as an anomaly in democratically governed societies. In the current literature on human rights, violations of this right are by-and-large seen as the hallmark of autocratic and repressive regimes.

This study takes on this dominant paradigm and shows not only that the common assumption that democratic countries effectively limit human rights abuse is simply wrong, but that its widely accepted theory of what drives human rights violations accounts for only a small part of these abuses at best. Haschke shows that despite the increasing numbers of countries that are democracies, and despite growing numbers of national signatories to international treaties prohibiting human rights abuse, the number of allegations has not declined. This book also demonstrates that the bulk of this abuse, which takes the form of torture and ill-treatment, extra-judicial killings, rape, and the like, is committed against marginal members of society, seeming to reveal environments that enable agents of the state to abuse those with whom they are in contact. This violence is found in democracies and dictatorships alike.

What Bias? Changing Standards, Information Effects, and Human Rights Measurement (with Daniel Arnon)
Journal of Human Rights:

Human rights measurement efforts have been confronted with concerns of bias practically since quantitative measurement efforts began in the late 1970s and early 1980s. By and large, attacks have focused on biases to the source materials on which these measurement efforts rely – namely the annual human rights reports produced by Amnesty International and the U.S. Department of State. We here take stock and seek to distinguish conceptually distinct types of bias that have been conflated in the past, yet plausibly affect human rights measures. In addition to revisiting reporting bias or organizational bias long identified in the literature, we also disentangle two types of bias that have been of concern more recently – bias attributable to changing standards and information effects. For each type of bias, we identify, we provide an empirical implication as to the effect on human rights measures and importantly its spatial or temporal variation.

Introduction to the Societal Violence Scale (with Linda Cornett and Mark Gibney)
Human Rights Quarterly:

Measures of physical integrity rights violations typically focus on abuses by state actors. However, nonstate actors also represent a grave threat to personal security. This article introduces the Societal Violence Scale (SVS) which uses the US State Department Human Rights reports as a basis for developing a new scale of physical integrity rights abuses by nonstate actors to gain a more comprehensive, but at the same time disaggregated, picture of human security threats across the globe.

Youth, Revolution, and Repression (with Mehdi Shadmehr)
Economic Inquiry:

We develop a simple model to study the effect of age-structure on the interactions between the state and dissidents. Younger populations are more prone to protest. As the population grows younger, states that can discriminately target repression to different groups, but cannot concede discriminately, decrease repression. In contrast, states that can target concession, but not repression, increase repression. We test these results in non-military single-party regimes and military regimes without political parties. Moreover, we study state response to dissent in East European communist regimes in the late 1980s, showing that state response was more repressive in countries with younger populations.

Working Papers

The Same, Yet Differnent: Are Human Rights Impoving (with Mark Gibney, in progress)
Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, Illinois, 2016

Most if not all standards-based measures of states’ human rights practices suggest that on average states’ human right records have changed little if at all. Physical integrity violations are as common today as they were in the 1970s. Recent work (e.g., Fariss 2014; Clark and Sikkink 2013), however, challenges this conclusion, arguing that coders of standards-based measures are confronted with systematically different source materials today than in the 1970s and 80s. Monitoring agencies (e.g., Amnesty International, the U.S. Department of State) have devoted more resources to uncovering violations and are producing more detailed evidence of abuse. This detail is then picked up by coders who produce inflated scores even though human rights practices may actually be improving. We enter this debate by arguing that improved monitoring capacities and more detailed reporting are only one reason for observing a lack of improvement across human rights indicators. Stagnant scores might also be explained by changing biases of the monitoring/reporting agencies (e.g., Poe, Carey, Vasquez 2001; Simmons 2009) or changing standards used by coders of human rights measures. We evaluate these possibilities by analyzing both source materials and human rights indicators and their development over time.

The Not-So-Peaceful Domestic Democratic Peace (in progress)

Violations of the right to physical integrity of the person are conventionally regarded as an anomaly in democratically governed societies and are by and large viewed as a hallmark of autocratic and repressive regimes. Yet since the early 1990s, about 80% of democracies engaged in torture in a given year. Between 30 to 40% of democracies committed extra-judicial killings and imprisoned individuals for political reasons. To explain when and how democracies nevertheless violate these basic human rights, I identify the ability of democracies to declare states of emergency in order to respond to natural disasters or political turmoil, as an explanatory mechanism. I argue that during states of emergency the pacifying constraints imposed by democratic institutions are unhinged or circumvented, allowing for the temporary and spatially limited suspension of the “Domestic Democratic Peace.”

Voting Angry: An Exploratory Analysis of the Transformation of the German Party System (with Paulina A. Marek)

Two arguments are considered to explain the increasing fragmentation of the German party system following 30 years of party system stability. According to the first argument, disillusioned citizens register protest votes that are out of line with Downsian expectations. The increase in party system fragmentation is thus seen as a consequence of voter dissatisfaction with the political mainstream. An alternative holds that the increasing fragmentation is attributable to increasing heterogeneity of policy preferences among labor. Being ignored by traditional social democratic parties, some segments of labor as a consequence are driven towards new and extreme parties. Relying on an analysis of recently published survey data, this paper finds strong support for the former but not the latter argument.

Ausnahmezustand: Citizenship and the Protection of Physical Integrity Rights
Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, Illinois, 2012

Critics of the human rights enterprise have long argued that the notion of universal human rights is incompatible with a system of nation-states. An irreconcilable conflict between traditional political-juridical categories revolving around the citizen as the rights bearer, on the one hand, and the “naked” human being on the other, is seen as the underlying cause for why universal human rights remain inadequately protected. In line with this critical tradition, I argue that human rights are violated precisely when it is no longer possible to conceive of them in terms of the rights of citizens of a state. Relying on data of ill-treatment and torture allegations, I present evidence consistent with this interpretation. By examining the role of citizenship for the protection of physical integrity rights, I engage the literature on state repression while identifying alternative mechanisms that also explain the violation of these rights in democracies.

Repression or Not: Physical Integrity Rights Violations in Contemporary Democracies
Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, Illinois, 2011

I identify what I believe to be a critical theoretical oversight of current research studying states’ violations of physical integrity rights. I argue that research has been limited to the notion that physical integrity rights violations can be understood as instrumental political repression. I contend that physical integrity rights violations can have other functions as well. Following this argument, I outline alternative mechanisms and using new data show how various institutional characteristics unrelated to instrumental repression can help explain the incidence of torture and abuse in democracies.

Endogenous Institutional Change: Origins of Gender Quotas (with Paulina A. Marek)

More than half of the world’s countries have adopted some variant of gender quota for the election of candidates to legislatures. Even though there exists a broad literature studying in particular the effects of gender quotas, much less is known about their origins. In line with the literature on endogenous institutional change, we argue that electoral rules must be seen as endogenous to electoral systems and party competition. We present evidence consistent with the interpretation that the decision to adopt gender quotas is shaped by strategic considerations on behalf of political parties. Where parties perceive an electoral advantage vis-a-vis their competitors - especially in terms of candidate recruitment - they adopt or advocate the adopting of gender quotas. We find that proposed alternative motivations for the adoption of gender quotas such as efforts to increase system legitimacy or attempts to demonstrate a commitment to gender equality in order to mobilize political support of voters, fail to provide a complete account of institutional change. By examining the degree to which the adoption of gender quotas is a function of party strategy and competition, our paper aims to contribute both to the emerging literature on endogenous institutional change and the literature on gender quotas generally.