Global human rights measurement researchers reconvene for 2024 workshop at URI

Sponsored by The Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies, the political science department, and the College of Arts and Sciences.

KINGSTON, R.I. – June 12, 2024 – Human rights researchers across the globe gathered for the second annual Human Rights Measurement Workshop last week at the University of Rhode Island on June 7th & 8th.

The event was put together by URI professors Skip Mark, Meg Frost, and Roya Izadi, as well as Rebecca Cordell at the University of Texas at Dallas and Stephen Bagwell at the University of Missiouri St-Louis.

Mark, Ph.D., professor of political science, explained that the gathering allows researchers to share feedback on projects they’re working on. “We wanted to create a venue where researchers with a variety of backgrounds and experiences can give advice and help work through the areas a project feels stuck,” he said.

This work directly aligns with the mission of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies to promote mutual understanding, reconcile conflicts, and build peaceful, sustainable, and inclusive communities.

URI is home to one of those large human rights projects. Led by Mark, the CIRIGHTS project is the largest quantitative database on human rights, measuring 77 recognized human rights in all 195 countries across the globe. Drawing from the CIRIGHTS Data Project, the The Global RIghts Project (GRIP) was released last December, becoming the first global human rights report card in 40 years. The report includes policy-relevant research that translates complex data. Read the report here.

Last year’s inaugural workshop heard from 25 presenters and included presentations on projects such as the Human Rights Measurement Initiative, the Sub-National Analysis of Repression Project, and the Political Terror Scale.

This year, the workshop welcomed 30 presenters who covered topics ranging from strategies of repression, deterring human rights abuse, accountability through institutions, capturing human rights abuse, social effects of repression, and constraints on repression. David L. Richards, political science professor at the University of Connecticut, co-director of CIRIGHTS, and director of graduate students at the Gladstein Family Human Rights Institute, discussed his research on torture and how the relationship between such factors as a country’s regime type, judicial system, media, geography, and “clean torture” techniques can indicate intent.

Over the course of two days, scholars shared their projects and were very open about research challenges, training students to engage in human rights research, and ethical questions related to this research, which led to a discussion of best practices. Several new opportunities for collaboration emerged, such as a joint letter to shape international policy on human rights data protection. The next step is a research panel Mark organized with the same group taking place at the University of Michigan this Fall for the Peace Science Society International 2024 conference and plans for a joint research publication.

“I left feeling motivated, inspired, and with a lot of ideas about improving the human rights research we do at URI. I truly believe that opportunities like this can help us improve human rights globally by improving our research and finding ways to identify the policy implications of our findings,” Mark said.

The URI Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies organizes educational programs, training workshops, documentary films, and guest lecture series to promote nonviolence, inner peace, well-being, human rights, and a beloved global community. Learn more: Phone: (401) 874-2875