Research Portfolio Post #6: State Repression Transcends State Borders 1


Given that there is no existing database that accurately monitors the trend of state-sponsored assassinations on foreign soil, I had to reconceptualize my original research puzzle to accommodate a Large N methodology. I began by questioning what is it about this form of state violence that strikes me as particularly interesting. I find that when a sovereign state exerts its authority by assassinating one of its émigrés abroad, the irony of an international system based on sovereignty is underscored. Thus, my dependent variable is a state’s manipulation of international organizations/system (the norms for engaging with these organizations) to fulfill political objectives.

The Russian government has reportedly issued Red Notices to the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) in order to satisfy political objectives.[1]Focusing on INTERPOL in particular may offer insight into how this longstanding form of global governance and international legal instrument is politically wielded by states that aim to export repression across borders. My dependent variable will be operationalized as an interval-ratio indicator: the amount of Interpol Red Notices issued by a state. The indicators this dataset provides are: Last name, Nationality, country Wanted By, and the number of Search Results (Red Notices).[2]For the purposes of my project, I would focus on how many Red Notices are issued by each member state (interval ratio) so I could later dig deeper into my research puzzle: why do some states issue Red Notices more frequently than others?

My unit of analysis will be the Member nations on Interpol, 192 in all, which include dictatorships as well as democracies. According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, at least 17 countries, including China, Iran, Pakistan and Venezuela, have abused this power to persecute political opponents, economic targets or environmental activists in the past.[3]

Limitations of this dataset include the fact that it cannot be exported into an Excel spreadsheet and the data, which is continuously refreshed, does not have a timestamp. Lastly, Interpol does not publicize every single Red Notice; nonetheless, the percentage that they do post is substantial enough for a Large-N study. A supplement dataset could be The Political Terror Scale (PTS) which measures “state terror”: violations of physical or personal integrity rights carried out by a state (or its agents). [4]This category of human rights includes political violence and includes abuses such as extrajudicial killing and political imprisonment. PTS rates “state terror” on a scale from 1-5 (ordinal level of measurement), 5 being pervasive state terror throughout the society.

[1]Bill Browder,Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Mans Fight for Justice. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2015.

[2]Red Notice Search Database, International Criminal Police Organization, Accessed October 12th: https://www.interpol.int/notice/search/wanted

[3]Libby Lewis “Interpol’s Red Notices Used by Some to Pursue Political Dissenters, Opponents.” ICIJ. March 16, 2011. Accessed October 12, 2018. https://www.icij.org/investigations/interpols-red-flag/interpols-red-notices-used-some-pursue-political-dissenters-opponents/.

[4]Reed M Wood and Mark Gibney. “The Political Terror Scale (PTS): A Re-introduction and a Comparison to CIRI.” Human Rights Quarterly 32(2): 2010, 367—400. (pdf)


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One thought on “Research Portfolio Post #6: State Repression Transcends State Borders

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    Dr. Boesenecker

    Overall a very good job here Tina! I know that it was a process to get to this point as you thought about and reconceptualized your project for a large-n methodology, but what you propose and discuss here is both creative and promising. Analyzing the variation in Red Notices would provide some great insight into one particular slice of your overall puzzle (focusing more on how states engage with international norms and international law, which is a different slice of the puzzle than where you started, but still quite relevant and promising!). Good work!