I research domestic politics and global governance of human rights and transitional justice; this focus is a manifestation of my broader interests in international law and institutions, transnational advocacy, political violence, and the politics of law and order. My current research agenda starts from the recognition that democracies often violate human rights; these violations tend to result from criminal procedure and the treatment of marginalized societal sectors rather than of political dissidents. I seek to contribute to literatures on repression, international and domestic legal institutions, and policing, by investigating quantitative and qualitative shifts in violations.

My dissertation, titled "International human rights and the domestic politics of law and order," addresses key empirical patterns at the core of this research agenda. Many states continue physical integrity violations after making international human rights commitments. This study investigates how public insecurity due to crime affects key mechanisms of human rights change. I argue that it limits political mobilization for human rights by strengthening public support for heavy-handed policing, which puts political constraints on human rights reforms and undermines judicial protection. I show in cross-national statistical analyses that public insecurity is associated with increased physical integrity violations, particularly in new democracies, and judicial independence is associated with less violations, but importantly, this effect decreases with increasing public insecurity, regardless of membership in the Convention against Torture (CAT). In other analyses of disaggregated torture allegations, I show that CAT commitment is associated with improvements in torture of political dissidents in new democracies but more torture of criminals and marginalized individuals, and when public insecurity is high, judicial enforcement of CAT obligations is limited to dissidents.

My ongoing and future research focuses on tensions between democratic accountability and human rights protection. I am interested in questions at both the domestic and international levels. For instance, in what ways is human rights backlash due to public insecurity driven by elites or by public opinion? How does the national organization of policing influence human rights change? Does international human rights law contribute to democratic policing, i.e. policing that is responsive to public needs and legally accountable? Does domestic legal accountability of law enforcement actors influence the sovereignty cost calculations involved in international commitments?

I also have an active research agenda on transitional justice, where I am interested in the impacts of mechanisms such as truth commissions and criminal trials to address human rights violations committed during violent conflict or authoritarianism. In a working paper titled "Do truth commissions contribute to democratic governance?," I detail how existing empirical scholarship has not addressed key theoretical concerns regarding non-electoral accountability institutions and I am working on analyses to close this gap. Further, I am working with David Petrasek on a study of impacts of domestic and international human rights prosecutions, engaging the "peace versus justice" policy debate.