Past Projects

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The Human Rights Center has completed major projects on human rights of vulnerable populations in Southeast Asia and the United States, social reconstruction after the war in Yugoslavia, and a guidebook for journalists and aid workers on war crimes, among others. Websites for several completed projects can be accessed through links to the right. In addition, a number of projects are described briefly below. For more information on any of these projects, please contact us.

RWANDA: EDUCATION FOR RECONCILIATION — CREATING A HISTORY CURRICULUM AFTER GENOCIDE

Beginning in 2001, Sarah Freedman and Harvey Weinstein began to study the contribution of schools and the teaching of history to the rebuilding of countries following violent conflict. Funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the United States Institute of Peace (2003) and in collaboration with the National Curriculum Development Centre of the Rwandan Ministry of Education, they began a process of developing sets of materials that could be used and expanded upon to create a history curriculum for use in the secondary schools of the country. 

As described in their 2008 paper ("Teaching History After Identity-Based Conflicts: the Rwanda Experience,"Comparative Education Review, November 2008) authors Freedman and Weinstein asked the following questions: “How can material for a history curriculum be developed to avoid propaganda? What tensions surface when teachers negotiate an increasingly repressive political climate? What opportunities can encourage and support democratic teaching and debate about multiple perspectives?”

Click here for a detailed description of this project and here for  “The Teaching of History of Rwanda – A Participatory Approach," a resource guide for teachers and a product of the project. 

THE KOBO PROJECT: DIGITAL DATA COLLECTION (2005-2011)

Our researchers work to ensure that the needs of survivors are recognized and acted on by governments, UN agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. So that the results cannot be discounted due to methodological flaws, rigorous scientific methods are applied to capture the experience, opinions, and attitudes of survivors on various issues facing their national reconstruction process. In doing this there is the challenge of collecting data representative of vulnerable populations currently living in dangerous environments. At the same time, the research team seeks to gather, analyze, and disseminate information in a timely manner in order to provide input for policy decisions by governments and nongovernmental organizations.

To overcome these challenges, the research team developed the Kobo Project, a suite of digital tools that facilitate electronic data collection and analyze results. These tools include questionnaire software implemented on a PDA device or cellular phone with Global Positioning System (GPS), a data extractor and aggregator, and a digital survey builder. The Kobo Project was implemented to assist with research for the Initiative for Vulnerable Populations and as part of a broader Technology Initiative.

Kobo has helped reduce clutter, save time, reduce errors, and reduce the cost of research in the field, thereby making data collection much more efficient and accurate.

AFTER THE TSUNAMI: HUMAN RIGHTS OF VULNERABLE POPULATIONS (2005)

The tsunami of December 26, 2004, devastated thousands of communities along the coastline of the Indian Ocean. More than 240,000 people were killed, tens of thousands were missing, and more than a million people were displaced. In March and April 2005, the Human Rights Center dispatched a team of researchers to five countries affected by the disaster to assess the human rights problems exacerbated by the disaster and examine the response of governments and aid agencies to reports of human rights abuses. Read more about the project or download the full report.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND GLOBALIZATION (2002–05)

In 2002, the Human Rights Center initiated its Globalization Project, a three-year effort to strengthen protections for populations vulnerable to human rights abuses as a result of economic integration. Each year, thousands of men, women, and children enter this country seeking work and become captives of modern day slaveholders, yet little information was available about the nature and extent of this clandestine practice. In collaboration with Free the Slaves and the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University, we addressed the issue of forced labor and contemporary forms of slavery in the U.S.

The study, Hidden Slaves: Forced Labor in the United States, released in 2004, measured forced labor in this country as well as illuminated its human costs, the nature of the U.S. legal response, and the barriers to—and best practices supporting—eradication of forced labor. A year later we released a follow-up study: Freedom Denied: Forced Labor in California.

This research continues to be cited in policy papers, conference presentations, and media stories about human trafficking. See, for example, "Human trafficking steps from the shadows" (The Berkeleyan, 12 March 2008).

In April 2004 UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center and International Human Rights Law Clinic convened an invited working group of government officials, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, academics from Mexico and the United States, as well as Mexican trafficking survivors to address the urgent and critical need to improve protection and support for Mexican forced labor survivors. Safety after Slavery: Protecting Victims of Human Trafficking summarizes the objectives of the meeting, its findings, and recommendations.

KOSOVO: A VILLAGE DESTROYED (2001)

On a warm spring morning in 1999, Serbian security and paramilitary forces descended on the small village of Cuska, near the western Kosovo city of Pec. The villagers were threatened and robbed of their money, jewelry, and identification papers. Twenty-nine men were divided into three groups and taken into three separate houses, where they were sprayed repeatedly with automatic weapons. Each house was then set on fire and left to burn.

The research project and resulting book, published in 2001, investigates the massacre at Cuska, and examines the changing face of human rights reporting in the age of information, digital photography, and war crimes tribunals.

"Seldom does a book take readers so powerfully inside war crimes—both into the pain of the victims and, even more chilling, into the minds of the perpetrators."—Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold's Ghost: a Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa

"Gilles Peress's photographs take us where we have never gone before: into the killing zones of Kosovo where ethnic Albanians were tortured, executed, robbed, and driven from the land."—Gloria Emerson, author of Gaza: A Year in the Intifada.

 

COMMUNITIES IN CRISIS: RWANDA AND THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA (2000–04)

In January 2000, the Human Rights Center launched the Communities in Crisis Project, an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional research initiative to examine the relationship between the pursuit of international justice and local approaches to social reconstruction in the aftermath of war and genocide. Working in collaboration with scholars and activists in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the project established networks across a variety of fields and academic disciplines to examine how the work of the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda affects the local processes of social reconstruction, and how survivors of mass violence perceive, interpret, and relate to the work of the ad hoc tribunals.

The Project resulted in two books: Eric Stover and Harvey M. Weinstein (eds.), My Neighbor, My Enemy: Justice and Community in the Aftermath of Mass Atrocities(Cambridge University Press, 2004), and Eric Stover, The Witnesses: War Crimes and the Promise of Justice in The Hague (Pennsylvania University Press, 2005).

Sarah Freedman and Harvey Weinstein published in 2006 a guide called The Teaching of History of Rwanda: A Resource Book for Teachers.

CRIMES OF WAR (1999)

In 1999, the Human Rights Center helped publish a guidebook on international humanitarian law for journalists and aid workers. Edited by Roy Gutman and David Rieff, Crimes of War: What the Public Must Know (W.W. Norton and Company, 1999) contains essays and photographs on specific armed conflicts and an A-Z directory of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as defined by the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and other international treaties and charters. More than 100 journalists and legal experts contributed articles to the book. A spin-off of the book has been the establishment of the Crimes of War Project. The project has created a website to assist journalists and aid workers in the field and to keep the public informed of the latest developments in international humanitarian law. For more information about the book and the Crimes of War Project visit www.crimesofwar.org