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



A South African woman is briefed before taking a COVID-19 test at the Ndlovu clinic in Groblersdal, 200 kms north-east of Johannesburg, Thursday Feb. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Featured PublicationS

The role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in the COVID-19 response across the Global South: A multinational, qualitative study

September 2023 | Public Library of Science (PLOS) Global Public Health | Authors: Adam C. Levine, Anna Park, Anindita Adhikari, Maria Carinnes P. Alejandria, Benjamin H. Bradlow, Maria F. Lopez-Portillo, Salma Mutwafy, Ieva Zumbyte, Patrick Heller

Despite receiving less attention than high-income countries, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) experienced more than 85% of global excess deaths during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the unprecedented speed and scale of the COVID-19 pandemic, which placed large demands on government capacity, many LMICs relied on civil society organizations (CSOs) to assist in implementing COVID-19 response programs. Yet few studies have examined the critical role CSOs played in mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in low resource settings. This study explored the CSO response to COVID-19 in five of the most heavily impacted LMICs in the Global South. Interviews were conducted from May to August 2021 with a purposive sample of CSO key informants within each of the five countries. A total of 52 CSOs were selected from which 53 key informants were interviewed either via Zoom or by phone. Interviews were coded and analyzed using NVivo or MAXQDA2020. Out of the 52 CSOs selected, 24 were national organizations, 8 were regional, and 20 were local. CSOs fell into six categories: community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, unions/professional organizations, campaigns/social movements, research organizations/think tanks, and networks/coalitions. CSOs across all five countries adapted their missions, stretched their resources, and performed a wide range of activities that fit into five programmatic areas: food security and livelihood support, public health and medical care, cash transfer programs, risk communication and community education, and needs assessment. This qualitative analysis demonstrates the critical role CSOs played in supplementing government emergency aid response by delivering necessary resources and supporting highly vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the primary challenges they faced in doing so. Given the generally weak state of public capacity in the LMICs studied, this role was vital to responding to the pandemic.

Armed actor interventions in humanitarian and public health crises: examining perspectives of crisis-affected community members

Authors: Samuel Boland, Alexandria Nylen, Madison Bates, Maria Carinnes Alejandria, Rob Grace, Zein Tayyeb, Adam Levine


Despite frequently providing non-military services in times of crisis, little systematic research has examined the perspectives of crisis-affected community members on the role of armed actors responding to humanitarian crises and public health emergencies.


To address this research gap, 175 interviews were conducted (2020–2021) amongst humanitarian and public health practitioners; armed actors; and crisis-affected community members across three country and four crisis contexts. Specifically, this effort included an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; a refugee crisis on the Jordanian-Syrian border; and a volcanic eruption and COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines. Data was analysed using grounded theory principles.


Crisis-affected community members held diverse views. Non-state armed groups (NSAGs) and government armed actors were characterised as antagonists by some but supportive by others; gender issues were central to perceptions of armed actors, in ways that were both prejudicing and favourable. Overall perception was most closely linked to armed actor roles rather than the relative amount of conflict in a given area.


Findings nuance the relevant literature characterizing NSAGs as disruptive agents, and also the relevant literature that does not fully consider the nuances of gender and armed actor roles as deeply relevant to crisis-affected community perspectives on armed actors. These findings have important implications for both policy and academic discourse on militarization and localization.


Practical Measures to Prevent and Mitigate Conflict-Induced Hunger

May 2024 | InterAction, Protection of Civilians

What Does Securitization Mean for Forensic Mental Healthcare in Nigeria?

November 2023 | Policy Brief | Nextier | Authors: Aishatu Yusha'u Armiya'u, Chris M.A. Kwaja

Improving Civil-Military Engagement Protection Outcomes in Humanitarian Response

September 2023 | Research Team: Daniel Salaru, Georgia Harrington, Dorothea Omerovic, Elina Pipa, Charlotte Skelsey, David Polatty

Civilian-Military Coordination During the U.S. National Response to COVID-19

May 2023 | Authors: Alexandria J. Nylen, Ahad Bashir, Kethural Manokaran, David Polatty, and Adam Levine

Deadly Deja Vu: Russia Revisits Syria War Tactics in Ukraine

April 2023 | Authors: Tayseer Alkarim

‘Then, We Lost Everything:’ Afghan Evacuee Experiences of Operation Allies Refuge and Operation Allies Welcome
April 2023 | Authors: Alexandria J. Nylen, Omar Bah, Jonathan Bott, Giovanna Deluca, Adam C. Levine, and Subhan Mohebi

She Pays the Highest Price: The Toll of Conflict on Reproductive Health in Northwest Syria

March 2023 | Authors: Houssam Alnahhas, Adrienne Fricke, Leonie Tax, Amany Qaddour, Diana Rayes, Ihlas Altinci, Jennifer Higgins, Abdulselam Daif, Okba Doghim, Ahmad Albik, Mohamed Hamze

Collaborating the Relief and Recovery Efforts in Post Disaster Situations in Pakistan: Need Assessment and Conceptual Coordination Framework

November 2022 | CHRHS Seed Grant | Authors: Aisha Azhar and Muhammad Nasir Malik

Reviewing Guidance and Perspectives on Humanitarian Notification Systems for Deconfliction
October 2022 | CHRHS and USNWC Report | Authors: Carmen Bebbington, Sierra Fang-Horvath, Georgia Harrington, David Polatty, Jonathan Robinson

Public Action and the Pandemic: The Role of Civil Society in Shaping State Responses
June 2022 | CHRHS Report | Authors: Anindita Adhikari, Maria Carrines P. Alejandria, Benjamin Bradlow, Patrick Heller, Adam C. Levine, Maria F. Lopez-Portillo, Salma Mutwafy, Seth Stulen, Ieva Zumbyte

Humanitarian-Military Relations in Complex Emergencies: Evidence, Insights, and Recommendations

May 2022 | CHRHS Report | Maria Carinnes P. Alejandria, Samuel T. Boland, Hank Brightman, Rob Grace, Adam C. Levine, Alexandria J. Nylen, David Polatty, Zein Tayyeb

Humanitarian-Military Relations in Complex Emergencies: Practical Guidance for Policymakers and Humanitarian Planners

May 2022 | CHRHS Policy Guidance 

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Journal Articles

Armed actor interventions in humanitarian and public health crises: examining perspectives of crisis-affected community members

April 2024 | Conflict and Health | Authors: Samuel T. Boland, Alexandria Nylen, Madison Bates, Maria Carinnes Alejandria, Rob Grace, Zein Tayyeb, Adam C. Levine

Mental and physical health morbidity among people in prisons: an umbrella review

April 2024 | The Lancet Public Health | Authors: Louis Favril, Josiah D. Rich, Jake Hard, Seena Fazel

Reimbursing incarcerated individuals for participation in research: A scoping review

January 2024 | International Journal of Drug Policy | Authors: Andrea Mambro, Avideh Afshar, Frederic Leone, Camille Dussault, Mark Stoove, Julian Savulescu, Josiah D. Rich, Daniel H. Rowan, Julia Sheehan, Nadine Kronfli

Methodological Impasses: Facing Interrogation and Silence While Gathering Data on Sexual Violence in India

January 2024 | Political Science and Politics | Authors: Aditi Malik and Poulami Roychowdhury

Descriptive Analysis of Community Based Needs among Asylum Seekers in the Greater Rhode Island Area before and after COVID-19: Evidence from a Student-Run Asylum Clinic

January 2024 | Journal of Human Rights Practice | Authors: Victoria Angenent-Mari, Viknesh S. Kasthuri, Hannah Montoya, Elizabeth Toll

Mental Health Consultations in Immigration Detention: What Can We Learn From Clinical Records?

January 2024 | International Journal of Public Health | Authors: Leonel C. Gonçalves, Patrick Heller, Anne-Claire B. Bachmann, Jonathan Barbolini, Clara Fuhrer, Laurent Gétaz, Eric Luke, Hans Wolff, Stéphanie Baggio

Gender identity as a barrier to accesing adequate and inclusive healthcare for Syrian refugees in Lebanon's Northern regions

January 2024 | Fontiers in Human Dynamics | Authors: Jasmin Lilian Diab, Bechara Samneh, Dima Masoud, Kathleen Cravero

Understanding the Materiality of Disaster Injustice in Post-disaster Housing Reconstruction 

December 2023 | Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints | Authors: Pamela Gloria Cajilig, Monica F.A.W. Santos, Simon Cervantes, Olivia Alma G. Sicam

Civil-Military Coordination in Disaster Response

2024 | Ciottone's Disaster Medicine | Authors: Michael F. Court, David P. Polatty, Simon T. Horne

Diagnostic Accuracry of the World Health Organization Pediatric Emergency Triage, Assessment and Treatment Tool Plus Among Patients Seeking Care in Nairobi, Kenya

December 2023 | Pediatric Emergency Care | Authors: Chen, JosephineAluisio, Adam R. MD, MSc, DTM&H; Tang, Oliver Y. BS; Nwakibu, Uzoma A. MD; Hunold, Katherine M. MD; Wangara, Ali Akida BSc, MPH; Kiruja, Jason BSc, MSc; Maingi, Alice MBChB, MSc; Mutiso, Vincent MBChB, MMed (Surgery); Thompson, Peyton MD, MSCR; Wachira, Benjamin MBChB, FCEM(SA); Dunlop, Stephen J. MD, MPH, CtropMed; Martin, Ian B.K. MD, MBA; Myers, Justin G. DO, MPH

Leveraging emergency care to reach key populations for 'the last mile' in HIV programming: a waiting opportunity

December 2023 | AIDS. | Authors: Smith-Sreen, Joshua; Bosire, Rose; Farquhar, Carey; Katz, David A.; Kimani, Joshua; Masyuko, Sarah; Mello, Michael J.Aluisio, Adam R.

Interventions to Counter Misinformation: Lessons from the Global North and Applications to the Global South

November 2023 | Current Opinion in Psychology | Authors: Robert Blair, Jessica Gottlieb, Brendan Nyhan, Laura Paler, Pablo Argote, Charlene Stainfield

Prevalence of non-communicable disease among displaced Rohingya in southern Bangladesh: a first look at a persecuted ethnic minority from Myanmar

November 2023 | International Health | Authors: Jason T Tsichlis, Ipsita Hamid Trisha, Ghazal Aghagoli, Meerjady Sabrina Flora, M Ruhul Abid

Integrating long-acting injectable treatment to improve medication adherence among persons living with HIV and opioid use disorder: study protocol

October 2023 | Addiction Science and Clinical Practice | Authors: Kirsten J Langdon, Anthony E Hitch, Alexandra B Collins, Curt G Beckwith, Sara Becker, Karen Tashima, Josiah D Rich

A comparison of the NIRUDAK models and WHO algorithm for dehydration assessment in older children and adults with acute diarrhoea: a prospective, observational study

September 2023 | The Lancet Global Health | Authors: Adam C Levine, Monique Gainey, Kexin Qu, Sabiha Nasrin, Mohsena Bint-E Sharif, Syada S Noor, Meagan A Barry, Stephanie C Garbern, Christopher H Schmid, Rochelle K Rosen, Eric J Nelson, Nur H Alam

The role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in the COVID-19 response across the Global South: A mulitnational, qualitative study

September 2023 | Public Library of Science (PLOS) Global Public Health | Authors: Adam C. Levine, Anna Park, Anindita Adhikari, Maria Carinnes P. Alejandria, Benjamin H. Bradlow, Maria F. Lopez-Portillo, Salma Mutwafy, Ieva Zumbyte, Patrick Heller

Designing Ethically-Integrated Assignments: It's Harder Than it Looks

August 2023 | ICER | Authors: Noelle Brown, Koriann South, Suresh Venkatasubramanian, Eliane S. Wiese

Civil-Military Engagement During Public Health Emergencies: A Comparative Analysis of Domestic Responses to COVID-19

August 2023 | Stability: International Journal of Security & Development | Authors: Samuel BolandRob Grace, and Josiah Kaplan

Derivation and External Validation of a Clinical Prediction Model for Viral Diarrhea Etiology in Bangladesh 

July 2023 | Open Forum Infectious Diseases | Authors: Stephanie Chow Garbern, Md Taufiqul Islam, Kamrul Islam, Sharia M Ahmed, Ben J Brintz, Ashraful Islam Khan, Mami Taniuchi, James A Platts-Mills, Firdausi Qadri, Daniel T Leung

Implementation and Evaluation of the WHO Basic Emergency Care Course in Rwanda

July 2023 | Prehospital and Disaster Medicine: Cambridge University Press | Authors: Ramu Kharel, Nidhi Kadakia, Iju Shakya, John Lee, Maria Diaz, Pascal Mugemangago, Vincent Ndebwanimana, Naz Karim

The Rich Have Peers, the Poor Have Patrons: Engaging the State in a South Indian City

July 2023 | American Journal of Sociology | Authors: Patrick Heller, Siddharth Swaminathan, Ashutosh Varshney

Ebola vaccine uptake and attitudes among healthcare workers in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2021

July 2023 | Front Public Health | Authors: Doshi RH, Garbern SC, Kulkarni S, Perera SM, Fleming MK, Muhayangabo RF, Ombeni AB, Tchoualeu DD, Kallay R, Song E, Powell J, Gainey M, Glenn B, Mutumwa RM, Hans Bateyi Mustafa S, Earle-Richardson G, Gao H, Abad N, Soke GN, Fitter DL, Hyde TB, Prybylski D, Levine AC, Jalloh MF, Mbong EN

Measuring and mitigating voting access disparities: a study of race and polling locations in Florida and North Carolina

June 2023 | American Journal of Sociology | Authors: Mohsen Abbasi, Calvin Barrett, Kristian Lum, Sorelle Friedler, Suresh Venkatasubramanian

Parties, Civil Society and Democratic Deepening: Comparing India, Brazil and South Africa

June 2023 | Studies in Indian Politics | Author: Patrick Heller

COVID-19 Vaccine Perceptions among Ebola-Affected Communities in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2021

May 2023 | Vaccines (Basel) | Authors: Garbern SC, Perera SM, Mbong EN, Kulkarni S, Fleming MK, Ombeni AB, Muhayangabo RF, Tchoualeu DD, Kallay R, Song E, Powell J, Gainey M, Glenn B, Gao H, Mutumwa RM, Mustafa SHB, Abad N, Soke GN, Prybylski D, Doshi RH, Fukunaga R, Levine AC

Staying Power: Strategies for Weathering Criminal Violence in Marginal Neighborhoods of Medellín and Monterrey

April 2023 | Latin American Research Review | Authors: Rebecca Bell-Martin and Jerome F. Marston Jr. 

Post COVID-19 Test Score Recovery: Initial Evidence from State Testing Data

April 2023 | National Bureau of Economic Research | Authors: Clare Halloran, Claire E Hug, Rebecca Jack, Emily Oster

Health Care in US Correctional Facilities - A Limited and Threatened Constitutional Right

March 2023 | New England Journal of Medicine | Authors: Marcella Alsan, Crystal S Yang, James R Jolin, Lucy Tu, Josiah D Rich

Utopias Latino-Americanas: Polıtica, Sociedade, Cultura

March 2023 | Hispanic American Historical Review | Authors: James N Green

Attitudes of US Emergency Medicine Program Directors Towards the Integration of Climate Change and Sustainability in Emergency Medicine Residency Curricula

February 2023 | The Journal of Climate Change and Health | Authors: Katelyn Moretti, Caitlin Rublee, Lauren Robison, Adam Aluisio, Benjamin Gallo Marin, Timothy McMurry, Amita Sudhir

Moving Humanitarian‑Military Relations Forward: A New Typology

February 2023 | Journal of International Humanitarian Action | Authors: Rob GraceMaria Carrines Alejandria, Madison Bates, Samuel T. Boland, Alexandria J. NylenZein Tayyeb, and Adam Levine

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The Kaiser Strike Isn't Your Typical Labor Action

October 2023 | The New York Times | Craig Spencer

Local communities know best how to cope with gang violence. Aid sector should take note.

June 2023 | The New Humanitarian | Jerome Marston and Rebeca Bell-Martin

How California and other states are tackling AI legislation

March 2023 | Brookings | Sorelle Friedler, Suresh Venkatasubramanian and Alex Engler

Building a Collective Purpose to Provide Medical Care as a Syrian in Exile

February 2023 | Milwaukee Independent | Abdullah Chahin

The Bomb in the Background: What the War in Ukraine Has Revealed About Nuclear Weapons
February 2023 | Foreign Affairs | Nina Tannenwald

Let pharmacists prescribe addiction medicine

January 2023 | Boston Globe | Traci Green, Jeffrey Bratberg, and Josiah Rich

I Once Ran Human Rights Watch. Harvard Blocked My Fellowship Over Israel

January 2023 | The Guardian | Kenneth Roth (CHRHS Advisory Board Member) 

Exploring Russia's Views on Humanitarian Aid in Syria

January 2023 | Fikra Forum | Jonathan Robinson (CHRHS Global Fellow)

My Uncle Died in Qatar

December 2022 | Nepali Times | Ramu Kharel

The world population hit 8 billion - but with a peak in sight. What lessons does that have for climate change?

November 2022 | LA Times | Elizabeth Fussell and Margaret E. Greene

An electoral pivot that restores Brazil's democracy

November 2022 | The Hindu | Patrick Heller

Ukraine Points Up the Threat to Education During War

June 14, 2022 | IPS News Opinion | Jerome Marston (CHRHS Global Fellow)

How the Invasion of Ukraine Sounds to Syrians

June 3, 2022 | Newsweek Opinion | Tayseer Alkarim (CHRHS Global Fellow)

Here's a Vice headline for you: 'We took millions to improve the image of a murderous dictator' 

March 18, 2022 | Washington Post Opinion | John Hursh (CHRHS Visiting Scholar)

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