Carnegie Mellon University

Statistics and Human Rights Program

We apply statistical methods to complex problems, using data to identify and understand when abuses occur and what to do about them.

We do more than make pretty graphs. We bring a wealth of training in statistical methods to understand what a given dataset can tell us—and what it can’t. We help our partners expand their capabilities, providing analysis and insight to groups with expertise in investigation and service delivery.

Currently, we are collaborating with the Pennsylvania Prison Society to assess how people die in correctional facilities and develop indicators of prison health. We’re also working with Megan Price, the executive director of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group on a book of case studies of statistical analyses in human rights investigations.

Recent projects

Conflict Deaths and Events

Carnegie Mellon statisticians worked to develop rigorous methods to estimate conflict deaths and other conflict events. The work involved both matching records from disparate sources and estimating the number of unrecorded deaths. Much of this work was carried out through a partnership between CHRS, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (a nonprofit think tank based in San Francisco, CA) and the Carter Center’s Conflict Resolution Program.

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Population Needs and Perceptions

When a conflict ends and peace accords are signed, national and international actors invariably have ideas about what is needed to move forward. This project focuses on understanding the perceptions of the population that has suffered under conflict. A joint project with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, which has been conducting surveys in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, this project studies the perception of the population over time, using repeated cross sectional survey data.