Promoting human rights and democracy in the developing world: U.S. rhetoric versus U.S. arms exports

Academic Article


  • Scholars disagree about the determinants of U.S. foreign policy instruments. According to realpolitik, security interest determine the outcome of U.S. decisions on arms transfers. Neo-liberals counter that respect for human rights and democratic governance are important concerns in U.S. foreign policy. The objective of this study is to assess whether human rights and democracy are significant determinants in the decision to transfer arms abroad. Focusing on U.S. arms exports to developing countries for the years 1990 through 1994, I use a modified Heckman model to take into account a two-stage decision-making process. The findings indicate that in the initial decision-making stage, human rights and democracy are important determinants of the eligibility of countries to receive arms. In the second stage, democracy is significant, though human rights no longer affect the decision on the amount of arms to be transferred.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Blanton SL
  • Start Page

  • 123
  • End Page

  • 131
  • Volume

  • 44
  • Issue

  • 1