Moving America Forward

They Found a Way to Use Science in the Fight for Human Rights – and It’s Working

April 8, 2019
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They Found a Way to Use Science in the Fight for Human Rights – and It’s Working
Joshua O'Connor
Human rights groups advocate for some of the world’s most pressing issues. A growing number of volunteers are helping them back up their research with science.

Public health crises. Climate change. Refugee trauma and violence. Human rights groups face daunting tasks that often require swift action, yet they also need to ensure that those actions are informed by scientific fact.

“One of the things I’ve told human rights organizations when I’ve worked with them is without the data, you’re just a person with an opinion,” says Mary Gray, a statistician and lawyer at American University.

That’s where the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) comes in: Last year, the organization launched the On Call Scientists Hotline, a free service that pairs volunteers with experience in fields like forensic chemistry, public health, refugee trauma and food/environmental toxins, with human rights practitioners looking to back up their findings with science. The volunteers can help analyze research findings, review technical reports, assist with filling gaps in data, and so on, to help each group make stronger arguments in service of advancing human rights.

Not only does this approach help groups like the 11th Hour Project and Amnesty International prioritize next steps, it also helps them plan more efficiently to navigate future crises.

To learn more about how you can volunteer for or donate to the AAAS, watch the video above.

More: When the American Dream Becomes Human Rights Abuse

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