The Initiative for Vulnerable Populations was established in 2006 to conduct research in countries experiencing serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Founded as a collaboration between UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center and the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University, the Initiative used empirical research methods to give voice to survivors of mass violence. Between 2006 and 2011, the Initiative produced research designed to ensure needs of survivors are recognized and acted on by governments, UN agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. Additionally, the initiative improved the capacity of local organizations to collect and analyze data about vulnerable populations so that their human rights can be protected.
The Initiative took on a range of projects, including assisting centers for former child soldiers in northern Uganda improve their capacity to collect and analyze data and provide follow-up services to returnees (see Abducted: The Lord’s Resistance Army and Forced Conscription in Northern Uganda).
Reports resulting from the Initiative include population-based surveys on attitudes toward peace, justice, and social reconstruction: When the War Ends (on northern Uganda) and Living With Fear (on Eastern Democratice Republic of the Congo).
Additionally, the Initiative:
- Helped the Victims and Witness Unit of the International Criminal Court develop questionnaires to improve their services for witnesses;
- Assisted Human Rights Watch in efforts to improve its capacity to collect and analyze empirical data on violations of human rights; and
- Conducted research on transitional justice mechanisms in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in collaboration with the International Center for Transitional Justice.
The Initiative has provided fellowships to graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley and Tulane University to work with our partnering institutions, Human Rights Watch and the International Criminal Court.