Sessions on the summer school include:
Introductory Session (Lorna McGregor, Essex)
This session will provide an overview of the week, focusing on project design and the choice of
methods available and commonly used in scholarship and in practice.
Interviewing Survivors of Human Rights Violations (Nora Sveaass, University of Oslo)
Looking into the situation of survivors of gross human rights violations when they are seeking
justice and reparation, often many years after the traumatic events, losses etc., represent major
challenges for a researcher. A number of conditions must be dealt with, such as, creating a relation
of trust, present the research interest in ways that engage, at all times respect the boundaries of
the person and always be attentive to problems in relation to the interviews. One should always be
in contact with persons or professionals that may be supportive in case informants need this.
These issues, ethical dilemmas and other challenges will be dealt with and examples from ongoing
research in the field will be presented and discussed.
Interviewing Women and Girls (Esther Major, Amnesty International)
Interviewing survivors of abuses and human rights violations throws up a myriad of "best practice"
ethical and safety issues which must be taken into account and considered. This session will focus
on the existing standards and guidelines, as well as drawing on experience documenting human rights
violations and abuses by both state and non-state actors. In particular, attention will be paid
to documenting violence against women and girls and violations of sexual and reproductive rights.
Some discussion will also take place on obtaining and use of images and some particular ethical and
other considerations when seeking and using audiovisual materials. How to seek and obtain consent,
how to ensure the work does not contribute to re-affirming pre-existing stereotypes will feature
amongst the issues covered. At the end some time will also be given to conducting interviews with
officials, as well as victims. The session will aim to be a mixture of presentation and open
discussion, with questions and interaction positively encouraged.
Conducting In-Country Research (Esther Major, Amnesty International)
How we do our work and conduct research into human rights violations is (or should be!) as important
as what we produce at the end of an investigation. This session will focus on research methodology
development and factors to consider when planning to research and document human rights violations
and abuses. The idea will be to be as practical as possible, highlighting the key stages of research
methodology development, why and how each of these stages is crucial to contribute to the success of
the research and or campaign, as well as to guarantee accountability and transparency in our work.
Some of the key ethical and safety issues that may need to be considered from the outset as well as
during a research project will also be aired and opened up to discussion.
Researching in Conflict and Post-Conflict States (Sarah Nouwen, University of Cambridge)
Based on experiences in Uganda and Sudan, this session addresses the practical, epistemological,
ethical and existential challenges of interviewing about human rights issues in (post-)conflict states.
Borrowing from the anthropological practice of reflexivity, we will discuss, inter alia, the notion
of informed consent, the challenges of socially desirable, pedagogical and survival answers,
the phenomenon of feedback, reactivity and research fatigue, the desire to do something helpful,
the various security risks and personal questions of complicity.
Single and Comparative Case Studies (Başak Çalı, Koc University)
These sessions will address how to carry out single and comparative case studies of human rights law,
its effects and impact. The sessions will focus on how to carry out legal and qualitative single case
studies and comparative case studies and justification of case selection in qualitative and legal research
design. The sessions will distinguish positivistic and interpretive case study and comparative design,
but will focus in detail into interpretive case study designs and the relationship with research questions,
literature review and case-selection justification. The sessions will then look at the design and implementation
of two successful ESRC and QNRF funded research projects, both with multiple case-studies. The sessions will
conclude with writing case-selection justification exercises and evaluation of these justifications.
Qualitative Data Analysis (Róisín Ryan-Flood, University of Essex)
Data analysis is far more than simply providing a summary of interview transcripts. This session will cover:
how to transcribe interviews; how to identify patterns in the data; and how to make sense of research material
using discourse analysis.
Choosing between Research Approaches: Qualitative v/and Quantitative (Todd Landman, University of Essex and Margaret Satterthwaite,
New York University)
This session examines the rationale underpinning the choice of a qualitative and quantitative approach,
demonstrating through a case study the possibilities and limitations of both. It also considers the possibilities
of combining qualitative and quantitative approaches and the impact that might have on research outcomes.
Counting Human Rights Violations (Todd Landman, University of Essex)
This session examines events-based data on individual violations of human rights that has been developed in
the work on truth commissions, commissions of inquiry, conflict research and other projects that utilise the
‘who did what to whom’ framework developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (www.aaas.org),
Benetech Initiative (www.beentech.org), and Human Rights Data Analysis Group (www.hrdag.org). It discusses the
challenges around source material, event complexity, reporting biases, and making strong inferences.
Surveys (Todd Landman, University of Essex)
This session looks at ‘standards-based’ measures of human rights practice that code country performance on
ordinal scales for comparative analysis and survey-based measures based on perceptions and experiences of
human rights practices. Standards-based scales are very popular in development work and policy analysis at
a higher level of abstraction, and have formed a large part of the existing social science literature on
explaining the cross-national and time-series variation in human rights protection. Survey-based measures
rely on designing and administering questionnaire instruments to samples of the population within countries,
and have been used to assess a wide range of human rights violations experienced by particular parts of the
population. For both types of measures, discussion will focus on sources of information, types of samples,
external and internal validity, and the limitations of each style of measurement and assessment.
Socio-Economic and Administrative Statistics (Todd Landman, University of Essex)
This session examines the use of socio-economic and administrative statistics, which involves using
existing or creating new indicators for governmental activity that has a bearing on human rights,
including input, process, output, outcome, and impact indicators. The United Nations has developed a
framework for incorporating these kinds of measures into the work of treaty bodies, as well as other
kids of human rights project work.
Human Rights Indicators (Margaret Sattherthwaite, New York University)
Does human rights law "work"? Have government efforts led to improved outcomes? How can we determine
whether human rights advocacy efforts are having an impact? Researchers and advocates alike have turned
to human rights indicators in recent years to answer questions like these. This session will consider the
major approaches to human rights indicators, as well as assessing the promise and perils of embracing this
approach to assessing progress.
The Role of Databases (Leigh Payne, University of Oxford)
Does torture prevention work? Do human rights treaties make a difference? These two questions represent
the types of concerns behind the creation of human rights databases. Several human rights databases attempt
to track human rights improvements or their decline and to put tools in the hands of analysts to measure
the effectiveness of human rights laws, policies, and practices on human rights outcomes. These include
the Cingranelli and Richards Human Rights Data Project, Freedom House, Ill-Treatment and Torture Country-Year Data,
and Political Terror Scale. In addition to discussing the value and objectives of these databases, in this
session we will consider the critiques of human rights database measurements and indicators. We will further
explore alternative methodologies to understanding human rights outcomes.
Measuring the Impact of Transitional Justice (Leigh Payne, University of Oxford)
Does transitional justice work? While the mechanisms of criminal trials, truth commissions, reparations,
vetting, and customary justice are increasingly promoted and adopted around the world, scholars and
policy-makers still probe their effectiveness in reducing human rights violations. Some contend that
transitional justice is overloaded with goals and objectives that it cannot possibly fulfil. Others
posit that transitional justice mechanisms fail because they do not address the root causes of violations.
Certain proponents of transitional justice call for ‘holistic’ approaches that combine an array of mechanisms,
while others suggest that only specific mechanisms will deter human rights violations. In this session we will
examine the arguments made, the key debates, and empirical analyses that test and attempt to resolve them.
Measuring the Impact of the Right to Health (Paul Hunt, University of Essex)
This session will explore a WHO project (2012-2013) that investigated whether or not there is evidence
that human rights contribute to health gains for women and children. First, participants will learn a
little about health rights, such as the OHCHR-WHO understanding on a human rights-based approach to health;
participants are asked to read at least one of the readings (see list below) before the session. Second,
they will be provided with some basic information about human rights and women’s and children’s health
in a country and asked to reflect on how to approach a project to investigate the impact (if any)
of human rights on women’s and children’s health in that country. Which research questions might be asked?
Which methods might be used? Which disciplines? What are among the key challenges/obstacles confronting such a study?
This exercise will be conducted in small groups which report back to the whole group. After discussion, Paul
Hunt and the participants will look at the report of the WHO project and consider how it approached these issues.
Bringing the Methods Together: When to Use What (Lorna McGregor, University of Essex)
Details to follow.
One-to-One Clinic (Gary Williams, University of Essex)
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the summer school, a one-to-one clinic will be run over lunchtime
where students can receive feedback on a one-page research methodology plan submitted ahead of the summer school.