Minnesota graduate students develop human rights tool for UN

March 17, 2019
Gonxhe Kandri speaks during a discussion on the "Minnesota Method" in the Social Sciences building on the West Bank on Tuesday, March 6. The "Minnesota Method" is a tool designed by a research team to support human rights advisers. (Tony Saunders/The Minnesota Daily via AP)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Graduate students at the University of Minnesota have created a tool to prioritize efforts to address human rights violations that they’re hoping the United Nations will use.

Master’s students in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs developed the Minnesota Method for Human Rights Change, a tool for human rights advisers to use when deciding which issues to consider first.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the U.N. is charged with promoting and protecting the human rights that are guaranteed under international law and stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. The Minnesota Method is designed to help advisers to that office identify one to three human rights issues to work on after conducting a series of assessments, the Minnesota Daily reported.

“You can’t do everything, because if you try to do everything, you end up getting nothing done,” said Todd Howland, a representative from the U.N. agency. “You need to prioritize, but you need to do it in a way that doesn’t undermine your credibility.”

The two-part method involves preliminary research and gathering local experts to help advisers determine which human rights need to be addressed.

Advisers and the U.N. can compromise their credibility if they’re working to address human rights issues that are easier to change, but that the country doesn’t view as important, said Howland, who led the students in developing the tool.

Involving local experts offers human rights advisers a clearer picture of the existing and positive movement for human rights change, “who is involved, how to better identify barriers to change, how to set goals to affect change, and how to select tactics to achieve those goals,” said Shelby Ankrom, a student on the project.

Student Gonxhe Kandri added that human rights change is a complex and difficult process to facilitate.

“It takes years and many moving parts the seekers of change must contend with,” Kandri said. “The Minnesota Method offers strategic pathways to facilitate human rights change.”


Information from: The Minnesota Daily, http://www.mndaily.com/