Honors College Theses

Publication Date



International Studies (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Kate Perry


Human rights violations occur all too frequently, with authoritarian regimes at the forefront of abuses. Countries that respect human rights engage in various initiatives, one such example being targeted sanctions to try and stem the tide of human suffering at the hands of unscrupulous dictators. Currently, Uyghurs are victims of genocide in China, dissidents in countries such as Russia and Belarus are falsely imprisoned, and individuals in Saudi Arabia are persecuted and imprisoned solely for advocating for freedom of speech and equality for women. Each of these countries have been the subject of sanctions. This paper seeks to answer the question: to what extent are targeted sanctions effective when applied to states or individuals when they are deemed guilty of human rights violations? I argue that the sanctions are rendered ineffective because the targeted state does not manifest any positive behavior changes regarding the treatment of its citizens. This is revealed in the authoritarian behavior of state leaders who believe that only they are qualified to run their countries. I conduct a mixed methods research approach combining a broad quantitative analysis of a country’s human rights practices with a narrow qualitative analysis of the authoritarian regime of the Russian Federation and find support for my argument.