The Science of Human Rights, War Crimes, and Humanitarian Emergencies

Posted: 11 Jan 2008  

John Hagan

Northwestern University - Department of Sociology

Heather Schoenfeld

Northwestern University - Department of Sociology

Alberto Palloni

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Abstract

Sociology can be an important disciplinary bridge between the study of what demographers call forced migration and mortality and what legal sociologists and criminologists understand as war crimes. The challenge is to develop a critically informed sociological synthesis that joins our understanding of the frequently politicized health and violence dimensions of what are also diplomatically called "complex" humanitarian emergencies. The frequency of these emergencies is growing, and there is an increasing amount of data collected by governmental and nongovernmental organizations exposing large-scale violations of human rights and war crimes. Yet analyses of these data are often inadequate. Although the humanitarian emergency in Kosovo marked a high point in collaborative human rights research, the circumstances that allowed this collaboration are probably atypical. We consider how, in increasingly challenging circumstances such as the Darfur region of Sudan, population health and legal and criminological surveys can be joined to provide more comprehensive estimates of deaths resulting from violent attacks as well as from disease and starvation. The discipline of sociology, with its expertise in population-based surveys and other measurement and analytic techniques, has the capacity to bridge differences and to provide more meaningfully synthesized conclusions.

Keywords: public sociology, demography, displacement, forced migration, refugees

Suggested Citation

Hagan, John and Schoenfeld, Heather and Palloni, Alberto, The Science of Human Rights, War Crimes, and Humanitarian Emergencies. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 32, August 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1082573

John Hagan (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Department of Sociology ( email )

1810 Chicago Ave
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Heather Schoenfeld

Northwestern University - Department of Sociology ( email )

1810 Chicago Ave
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Alberto Palloni

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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