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01-06-2015 | Issue 3-4/2015

Public Choice 3-4/2015

The UN Goldstone Report and retraction: an empirical investigation

Journal:
Public Choice > Issue 3-4/2015
Authors:
Arye L. Hillman, Niklas Potrafke

Abstract

The Goldstone Report is unique among United Nations reports in having been eventually repudiated by its principal author. The Report criminalized self-defense against state-sponsored or state-perpetrated terror. We use voting on the two UN General Assembly resolutions relating to the Goldstone Report to study whether support for the Goldstone principle of criminalization of self-defense against terror was influenced by countries’ political institutions. Our results, using different measures of political institutions, reveal systematic differences in voting by democracies and autocracies: as an example, based on the Chief-in-Executive measure of political institutions, a country with the highest democracy score was some 55 % points less likely to vote in favor of the second of the two UN Goldstone resolutions and some 55 % points more likely to abstain than a country with the highest autocratic score. The differences between democracies and autocracies in willingness to initiate symmetric warfare are therefore also reflected in differences in sensitivities to loss of life and harm in asymmetric warfare, through broad support by democracies, but not by autocracies, for legitimacy of self-defense against state-supported or state-perpetrated terror.

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