Research for Human Rights and Democracy in Central America

Funded by: USAID, Pan American Development FoundationDate Range: 2016 - 2019Project Lead: Pulte InstituteNotre Dame Collaborators: Department of Political ScienceContact: Tom Hare

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 Pulte Institute for Global Development 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. The Pulte Institute introduced and reinforced methodologies and best practices on translating research into public policy.

The Pulte Institute supported a working group to produce a coordinated human rights research agenda at the regional level. The working group promoted 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 was a strong network of over 50 research entities in the region collaborating to advance local knowledge for stronger policies on human rights protections.

The Pulte Institute assisted the working group by supporting research collaborations and providing training for enhanced quantitative and qualitative data-gathering techniques and technology. NDIGD partnered 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, Professor of Political Science, demonstrated the utility of their database to Central American researchers. The Pulte Institute also engaged local expertise to demonstrate best practices among regional experts to be shared among peers.

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

Photo credit: UCA

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