Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Nancy Morris

Second Advisor

Prof. Jay Albanese

Third Advisor

Dr. William Pelfrey

Fourth Advisor

Dr. David Webber

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Sue-Ming Yang


In this dissertation, I examine the within-country and between-country effects of state-based human rights violations on annual counts of total, fatal and attributed attacks. I use the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) for my outcome variables and Political Terror Scale (PTS) to measure state-based human rights violations.

Scholars argue that repressive governments that silence dissidents and close all avenues of political expression increase the likelihood of terrorism and other acts of violence against the state (Gurr, 1970; Crenshaw, 1981; DeNardo, 1985; Piazza, 2017). In such circumstances, terrorism and acts of violence against the state may serve as a defense mechanism against repressive governments (Gurr, 1970). Others argue that state-based violations of human rights can damage public approval and perceptions of legitimacy towards the government (Piazza, 2017). This, in turn, fosters anti-state and anti-status quo grievances. Such polarized environments become vulnerable to extremist movements in regard to the gathering of support, recruitment of new members, and distribution of effective propaganda, all of which may result in increased terrorist attacks at the country-level (Walsh and Piazza, 2010).

I use the fixed effects negative binomial regression model to test the effects of within-country changes in state-based human rights violations on annual changes in terrorism. I use generalized hierarchical linear modeling to test the effects of between-country changes in state-based human rights violations on annual changes in terrorism. Using country-level data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), Political Terror Scale (PTS), Polity IV, Freedom House and the World Bank, I examine the relationship between state-based human rights violations and terrorism for 175 countries between 1980 and 2014.

The results indicate that state-based human rights violations is significantly and positively correlated with annual terrorism. The results regarding human rights violations are consistent for both within-country and between-country differences. Increases in human rights violations within a country results in increase in the number of terrorist attacks. Similarly, countries which have higher human rights violations also have high frequency of annual terrorist attacks.


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