We examine changes in the use of human rights language in peace agreement texts from 1990 to 2018. Existing research in world polity theory examines institutional change through the lens of increasing isomorphism, a lens that generally fails to appreciate qualitative transformations in the meaning of institutional concepts across time. As a corrective to this approach, we endorse a meaning-structure institutionalism that conceives institutional concepts in relational terms and use a method of textual analysis — semantic network analysis — to analyze and formally model the shifting meaning of human rights in peace agreement texts. We show that human rights language in peace agreements has undergone multiple qualitative shifts since its initial emergence in the mid-1980s. Specifically, the term human rights occupies a marginal position in peace agreement texts in the 1990s, is used in reference to and thus bridges multiple substantive themes in the 2000s, and, finally, inhabits a conceptual silo in the 2010s in the sense that it is associated with many concepts within but no concepts outside of a semantic community related to rights and democracy. We discuss implications for world polity theories of institutionalism that follow from our relational framework.