ABSTRACT. This paper explores the possibility of human rights advocates building communal ties between (a) cities in militarily and economically powerful states (MEPS) and (b) non-MEPS cities whose recent history suggests their susceptibility to certain human rights failures. The first two sections defend two claims. First, moral complacency about human rights depends on the psychological “cost” of that complacency. Second, by shaping “information structures,” human rights advocates can increase the cost of complacency in such a way as to motivate members of MEPS to respond to human rights failures in non-MEPS. This second claim seems especially plausible in the light of certain insights from political science and psychology. In the final section, I propose an intercity partnership arrangement that can increase the motivation of MEPS members to respond to grave human rights failures in non-MEPS. Insights from the first two sections suggest the promise of intercity partnerships, and the ethical import of combating complacency about others’ basic human rights is emphasized throughout the paper. pp. 72–91

Keywords: human rights, information structures, intercity partnerships, global poor, international obligations

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Duke University


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