This report was produced for the United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor as part of the Capstone program at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs in response to the question of how to assess risk of human rights violations by security forces. Diplomacy Lab enables the State Department to “course-source” research and innovation related to foreign policy by harnessing the efforts of students and faculty at universities across the country.
The goal was to develop an analytical framework and prototype tool to help predict the likelihood that a partner nation’s security forces will commit Gross Violations of Human Rights (GVHRs). Given there are no existing indices that focus on risk of GVHRs, the analytical approach to predict GVHRs relied on an evaluation of existing indicators used in leading assessments of human rights, democracy, or conflict risk. The evaluation was conducted based on a comparative dataset that included countries that had and had not committed GVHRs. In order to create the prototype tool, the team selected a representative subset of 30 countries. The prototype consists of a user-interfaced questionnaire that evaluates both quantitative and qualitative data to assign a relative risk profile to partner nations’ security forces utilizing an indicator weighting system to assign countries to one of five risk ranges. Answers to the questionnaire and their respective weights within each risk area will identify where strengths and weaknesses exist that led to a country’s total risk score.