HHH Prof Ron Explores the Role of Surveys & Human Rights

Human rights activists have traditionally shunned opinion polls, focusing instead on principled commitment to international norms and laws. In recent years, however, a growing number of scholars, including University of Minnesota Professor James Ron, have begun using polls to better understand the human rights community's bases of actual and potential support.

In some cases, rights groups have used these analyses to adjust their messages, craft new outreach efforts, or build new fund raising strategies. Academics, for their part, are asking new questions in traditional survey formats, or using new experimental methods to gauge the public's commitment to human rights principles.

To continue to promote work on this topic, Professor Ron is helping to organize a conference in Mexico City on November 12-13, 2015. A select group of academics, campaign experts, foundation staff, and activists will convene in Mexico City, to discuss Using Public Opinion Analysis for Human Rights Advocacy and Strategy. The issues the group will address include what research has been done in this area, and how useful is it? What can - and can we not - learn from surveys? Should human rights groups use polling results to adjust their messages and strategy? If so, when and how? What additional work should scholars be doing? How can they work with front-line activists? Should foundations and other donors support this work, and if so, how?

The conference is funded and hosted by CIDE, The Center for Economic Research and Teaching. CIDE is one of Mexico's leading publicly funded research institutions and home to the ten-year survey project, Mexico, Americas, and the World. Supporting funds are coming from the Stassen Chair of International Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and from openGlobalRights, a section of the London-based e-zine, openDemocracy.

This workshop promises to be an exciting opportunity for human rights stakeholders and academics to network and exchange ideas. We look forward to a report of its findings.

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