Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies (CHRHS)

CHRHS Core Research

The Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies conducts and facilitates interdisciplinary research on pressing global human rights and humanitarian challenges. Here we highlight the core research projects managed by CHRHS.

Negotiating Humanitarian Access and Civil Military Coordination in Burkina Faso, Haiti, and Ethiopia: Key Challenges and Lessons Learned

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the growing number of conflicts, global humanitarian need has reached its highest level in decades. An estimated 274 million people worldwide will require emergency aid and protection in 2022, representing a 17 percent increase from 2021. At the same time as humanitarian needs have been growing, humanitarian space has been shrinking. In many complex emergencies around the globe, states and non-state actors have limited access to vulnerable populations in need, while direct and indirect targeting of aid workers is on the rise. In collaboration with the World Food Programme, this research effort deepens and expands the understanding of the critical role civilian-military coordination plays during humanitarian responses in contexts with restricted access. It will aid in the development of evidence-based research to document best practices and key challenges in both manmade and natural disasters where either state governments or NSAGs (or both) have historically blocked external aid. Learn More >

Baseline Data on Human Rights Sanctions

GloMag Sanctions Database: Baseline Data on Human Rights Sanctions

 This report accompanies the release of the GloMag Sanctions Database (GSD). The Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies (CHRHS) at Brown’s Watson Institute provided the resources to develop the dataset, which is designed to assist researchers examining the intersection of sanctions and human rights. The GSD covers the first five years of the Global Magnitsky Act’s sanctions designations (2017-2022) and will be updated periodically. The data is available to download HERE.


Civil-Military-Police Coordination during National Responses to COVID-19

This research project aims to conduct a comparative examination of civil-military-police responses during COVID-19 in Australia, United States and New Zealand. The project contributes evidence to a field where relationships, roles and responsibilities, and leadership structures have historically formed through necessity rather than through an institutionalised approach. This project is funded through generous support from the Australian Government's Civil-Military Centre. Learn More >

Afghan Evacuee Experiences of Operation Allies Refuge and Operation Allies Welcome

In partnership with the Providence-based Refugee Dream Center, this project will document the personal experiences of Afghan civilians who worked with the US military in Afghanistan, and who experienced the evacuation from Kabul. This research project will serve two purposes: 1) to better understand civilian perceptions of working with the US military in a warzone, and 2) to evaluate the immediate needs of this population for successful resettlement in the US. Learn more >

Group in pandemic response study

Public action and the Pandemic: the role of civil society in shaping state responses

This research project aims to systematically document, evaluate, and explain the role that civil society and human rights have played in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic through a multi-country (India, South Africa, Kenya, Philippines, Mexico), qualitative data collection project ocurring over three phases. This project is funded through generous support from American Jewish World Service. Learn More >

Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Logo

Civilian-Military Interaction in Conflicts: Best Practices and Perceptions

This research effort which is led by CHRHS in collaboration with the U.S. Naval War College, is fully funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Through research conducted in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Philippines, and Jordan, this study aims to significantly expand and deepen the understanding of civilian-military coordination across different types of humanitarian crises and aid in the development of updated evidence-based guidance for humanitarian and military actors working in close proximity in a diverse range of contexts worldwide. More >

Military Personnel

Surmounting Contemporary Challenges to Humanitarian-Military Relations

Humanitarian-military relations has emerged as an important and ever-expanding field of policy analysis and practice. However, this strand of literature, and the associated policy discourse, suffers from overarching deficiencies. This research examines the state of this discourse and recommends steps toward correcting these deficiencies. The resulting report is based on an assessment of available primary and secondary literature, as well as 38 semi-structured interviews. More >

Arial Bombardment Picture in Yemen

The Responsibility of States Indirectly Involved in an Armed Conflict to Provide Medical Care: A Contemporary Challenge for the Classification of Armed Conflicts

In determining the legal responsibility of a state indirectly involved in an armed conflict to provide medical care for affected civilians and combatants, several fundamental questions arise. Through legal, desk-review research, this project tackles the central question: When is a state, or non-state armed group, a party to a conflict? In doing so, the research examines the parameters for when a state’s or non-state armed group’s involvement in a conflict constitutes it being a party to the conflict. The research then goes onto examine the parameters for what constitutes the provision of medical care for affected civilians or combatants. More >

Person holding thermometer for disease identification

Community Perceptions of Military Involvement in Epidemic Response in the Northeast Region of Nigeria

For over a decade, the northeastern region of Nigeria has been plagued by violence perpetrated by the armed group Boko Haram. Coupled with the highest rate of poverty in Nigeria, the situation in the northeastern region has become one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises. In response, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the National Disaster Response Plan (NDRP) were created to devise a coordinated strategy to deal with emerging outbreaks of infectious diseases. This research aims to assess civilian perception and interaction with Nigerian military’s involvement in epidemic response, using insights from both the military and civilian populations. More >

Picture of rubble after airstrike

Humanitarian Civil-Military Information-Sharing in Complex Emergencies

The scholarly literature on civil-military coordination mainly stands silent on understandings of the socio-political and operational challenges of information sharing. To address the topic of information sharing between civil-military actors in humanitarian response in complex emergencies, this research focuses on standards and policy guidelines, principled frameworks for the regulation of information sharing and the protection of aid recipients’ personal data, debates on the use of new technologies in humanitarian action, and methods to improve information management systems and data-sharing platforms. This research aims to contribute insight to civil-military information sharing debates by challenging assumptions and highlighting the risks and realities of information sharing in complex emergencies. More >

Predictive Tool for Management of Pediatric Diarrhea

Bayesian Diagnostic for Etiological Management of Pediatric Diarrhea

The Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies has received funding from the Gates Foundation to develop a predictive tool to guide the treatment of pediatric diarrhea. CHRHS is working with the University of Utah (project lead) on developing and testing a smartphone decision app that can provide healthcare workers with probability estimates of the etiology of individual cases of diarrhea in children. More >

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia- People's Army Symbol

Contemplative Peace Building for Ex-Combatants in Colombia

The goal for this project is to develop and implement a framework using contemplative practices for healing and peacebuilding with ex-combatants in the demilitarization process in Colombia. Over two years, the project team will work in Medellin, Colombia with a local non-profit to develop and refine this framework through a combination of qualitative, behavioral, and physiological research methodologies. The framework will be integrated into the local partner's core programming and we will produce a manual for use in Colombia and in other global peacebuilding contexts.