Research for Human Rights and Democracy in Central America

Funded by: USAID, Pan American Development Foundation Project Lead: NDIGD Notre Dame Collaborators: Department of Political Science

The Northern Triangle countries of Central America—Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—are home to strong institutions of higher learning and research.  These institutions have the potential to influence public policy decision-making on human rights and democracy issues in the region. However, they are often under-resourced and under-supported to adequately coordinate research initiatives at the regional level. The Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD) has partnered with the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development to enable research institutions in the Northern Triangle to produce reliable and accurate data by employing state-of-the-art data analysis techniques to inform human rights and democracy policy.

To strengthen research capacities and coordination among universities, local NGOs, think tanks, and institutes specifically focused on key human rights and democracy issues in the region, NDIGD will introduce or reinforce methodologies and best practices on translating research into public policy.

NDIGD will support a working group to produce a coordinated human rights research agenda at the regional level. The working group will promote applied research studies on human rights topics that have national implications such as health, education, violence, and the welfare of children and vulnerable groups. The working group will be a strong network of over 50 research entities in the region collaborating to advance local knowledge for stronger policies on human rights protections.

NDIGD will assist the working group by supporting research collaborations and providing training for enhanced quantitative and qualitative data-gathering techniques and technology. NDIGD will partner with ND faculty working on innovative projects to introduce tools and methodologies that can be put to immediate use. In the first year, for example, the Varieties of Democracy project led by Michael Coppedge will demonstrate the utility of their database to Central American researchers. NDIGD will also engage local expertise to demonstrate best practices among regional experts to be shared among peers.

Finally, PADF and NDIGD will hold a joint call for proposals to elicit research ideas from regional universities and research entities on key human rights and democracy issues. Awardees will receive training from NDIGD and ongoing, virtual mentorship throughout the course of their research.

Photo credit: UCA