By Andrea Lampros
The Human Rights Center (HRC) at UC Berkeley School of Law is one of nine nonprofit organizations around the world to receive the 2015 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, the foundation announced today (Feb. 5). MacArthur will award the center $1 million to establish an endowment and expand its Sexual Violence Program.
Known for its “genius awards” to individuals, the MacArthur Foundation also honors extraordinary organizations. In this case, the foundation recognized the center’s investigations and research on war crimes and human rights abuses in more than a dozen countries, spotlighting the center’s recent work on wartime sexual violence.
“We have been on the frontlines providing local NGOs and international criminal courts with the scientific and technological tools to hold perpetrators accountable, reintegrate child soldiers, and reunite families separated by war,” said Eric Stover, faculty director of the Human Rights Center, who has led the center’s investigations and research globally since 1996. “With the MacArthur award, we hope to be able to continue and expand on these activities for another 20 years or more.”
From gathering evidence of Saddam Hussein’s abuse of Kurds to interviewing former Guantanamo detainees about torture or documenting the needs of sexual violence survivors, HRC conducts research on war crimes and other serious human rights violations. The center has trained hundreds of students and advocates and is currently harnessing the tech innovations of Silicon Valley to strengthen human rights investigations.
“The Human Rights Center combines rigorous, leading-edge scientific research with on-the-ground work, yielding valuable contributions to our understanding of rights’ violations and our collective commitment to hold perpetrators accountable,” said MacArthur Vice President Elspeth Revere, who leads the awards program. “MacArthur applauds the Human Rights Center’s creativity and effectiveness, and we hope this recognition and investment will help sustain its work and expand its impact.”
Executive Director Alexa Koenig said the MacArthur Award will help the center do what it has done well for two decades. “In the aftermath of war—often when the cameras have disappeared and the rest of the world has turned its attention elsewhere—the Human Rights Center is on the ground, listening to survivors and bringing their perspectives to policymakers, to help prevent further violence and respond to urgent needs,” Koenig said.
Additional information about the award and a video highlighting the Human Rights Center’s work are available here.