Newest Debate: Public opinion and human rights - what can (and can't) we learn from surveys?

Human rights groups have long argued that their job is to uphold norms, laws, and principles, even if this isolates them from the political mainstream. In recent years, however, a growing number of scholars and handful of activists have begun using opinion polls to better understand the public’s attitude towards human rights issues. Read on...


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Research-based messaging changes public support for human rights

Amidst widespread negative views on human rights in the UK, public opinion research can help improve outreach strategies. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Public Opinion and Human RightsEspañolFrançais

Public opinion on human rights is the true gauge of progress

External, “objective” measures of South Korea’s human rights progress will only take us so far. What we need now are the opinions of the people. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on Public Opinion and Human Rights.  Español, 한국어 

Use of force: the American public and the ethics of war

Survey data suggest that most Americans weigh the ethics of war with a heavy bias towards protecting American lives and national security. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Public Opinion and Human Rights. Español, Françaisالعربية

International law and US public support for drone strikes

When it comes to public opinion on drone strikes, the UN and NGOs may have more influence than we think. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on Public Opinion and Human RightsEspañolFrançaisالعربية

Mapping human rights skepticism in Mexico

Most Mexicans don’t associate human rights with protecting criminals, but surveys show this varies depending on region and political affiliation. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Public Opinion and Human Rights. Español

In Israel, implementing human rights feels wrong

Polls indicate that Jewish Israelis generally support the concept of human rights, but are less supportive of Israeli human rights organizations – especially those defending Palestinians. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Public Opinion and Human Rights. Españolالعربية ,עברית

Doubling down on human rights data

NGOs have often resisted social science methods, but random sampling and public opinion survey data can help us understand what people actually think and want. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Public Opinion and Human RightsEspañolFrançaisРу́сский

Does it matter when polls go wrong?

When political polls go wrong, many people start to doubt polling entirely. But that’s a costly mistake. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Public Opinion and Human Rights.

Data-driven optimism for global rights activists

Opinion polls across four world regions suggest that human rights activists can be cautiously optimistic—the public likes and trusts them. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Public Opinion and Human Rights.   EspañolFrançais, العربية

The human rights crisis: a problem of perception?

The main crisis of human rights is not about perceptions, but about deeply rooted problems in power and politics. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, “Human rights: mass or elite movement?EspañolFrançaisالعربية

Human rights are revolutionary—in principle not practice

The practice of human rights is utterly inconsistent with the subversive backbone expressed in its norms, and this tension presents problems for the movement. EspañolFrançais

Is the relationship of the ICC and R2P truly “win-win”?

Evidence from Syria and Libya suggests that linkages between the ICC and R2P are not always win-win. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on the ICC. Françaisالعربية

Seguro Popular: Mexico’s progress in protecting the right to health

Mexico is roundly criticized for its failure to protect civil and political rights. But the “Seguro Popular” healthcare program is making significant progress. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on economic and social rights.  Español

“What human rights?” Why some companies speak out while others don’t

Many companies speak out for human rights when it relates directly to their operations, but are some companies willing to take a stand on broader human rights issues? Français, Español

ICC action and the domestic effects of transnational criminality

Noisy discussions in the Israeli/Palestinian context have obscured how the ICC’s role may impact Israel’s relations with other states, especially in Europe.  A contribution to openGlobalRights’ debate on the ICC. العربية

Religion and rights in Bangladesh: maintaining a delicate balance

Bangladeshi activists work around religious elements, sometimes even collaborating with them. The rise of religious groups, however, is becoming both a challenge and a threat. A contribution to oGR’s religion and human rights debate. বাংলা (Bengali)

At the ICC, there is no deterrence without resources

To deter atrocities, the ICC requires more diplomatic support, financial resources and logistical assistance from the Security Council. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on the International Criminal Court. Español

Do African rights groups have the “how” to internationalise?

Internationalising human rights work in Africa will always be a distant dream unless rights groups operate beyond survivability. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on internationalising human rights organisations.

For sanitation, human rights are key to keeping governments accountable

While human rights alone cannot solve sanitation problems, they play a critical role in keeping governments accountable. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on economic and social rights.

Reframing the justice debate in Colombia

The debate about whether or not—or how—to punish the crimes committed in Colombia’s long civil war should focus instead on the objectives punishment might achieve. A contribution to our debate on the ICC. Español

When evaluating human rights progress, focus also on the journey

Yes, human rights work must be measured, but we need to focus on the small steps as well as the “big picture.” A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Funding for Human Rights. Français, Español,

Beyond accountability: the struggle for co-existence in Sri Lanka

The promised report of a UN investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka will achieve little unless accompanied by real introspection by both Tamil and Sinhala communities. தமிழ் (Tamil),