This chapter examines the contexts that lead to abuse—that is, the various settings that allow or even encourage human rights abuses. In particular, it discusses six factors that are most strongly connected with abuse and thus are most relevant to the study of human rights: pervasive conflict and cultures of violence, such as full-blown civil war; illiberalism; political dissent; poverty and inequality; intolerance and dehumanization; and crime and abuse systems. These circumstances help explain why human rights violations are so often an insidious, system-level problem—a group of collective or interrelated actions that form a complex structure. Although contextual factors do not directly cause people to commit human rights crimes, they create situations and perceptions that allow people to believe that abuses will get them what they want at a price they are willing to pay.
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