We believe truth leads to accountability, and at HRDAG, promoting accountability for human rights violations is our highest purpose.

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Projects
The Human Rights Data Analysis Group is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that applies rigorous science to the analysis of human rights violations around the world. As scientists, we work to support our partners—the advocates and human rights defenders who “speak truth to power”—by producing unbiased, scientific results that bring clarity to human rights violence and by ensuring that the “truth” is the most accurate truth possible.  

Our work at HRDAG is organized into three areas:

  1. Basic Research and Development - We invent and extend scientific methods so that we can better understand patterns of mass violence.
  2. Creation of Knowledge - We help to establish a scientifically defensible historical record of human rights abuses, including publishing public reports and providing expert testimony in war crimes trials.
  3. Education and Outreach - Through speaking engagements, publications, and training graduate students, we help those working in the human rights community to better understand the role and power of statistical data and reasoning.

Featured Projects

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Syria

In 2012, at the request of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), HRDAG undertook a comparison of seven datasets documenting killings in Syria. Based on this analysis, we found 59,648 unique, identifiable records of killings between March 2011 and November 2012.   Read more.
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US Police Killings

In early March, the Bureau of Justice Statistics published a report estimating that from 2003 to 2009 and 2011, there were approximately 7427 US homicides committed by police. We responded that the method the analysts used, capture-recapture with two databases, is vulnerable to underestimation.   Read more.
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Guatemala

In 1996, a peace accord brokered by the United Nations ended 36 years of internal armed conflict in Guatemala. During the hostilities, non-governmental organizations asked for technical support from the scientific community in the project to gather the experiences of witnesses and victims in databases.   Read more.
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Chad

Hissène Habré’s rule over Chad (1982-1990) was marked by allegations of systematic torture and crimes against humanity. Habré claims that he was not aware of violations committed by the Documentation and Security Directorate, the state security force that pursued political opponents and operated prisons.   Read more.

Inaccurate statistics can damage the credibility of human rights claims—and that’s why statistics about human rights violations must be as scientifically accurate as possible.

Read about our Core Concepts.

Team Members

The Human Rights Data Analysis Group is composed of a diverse group of board members, full-time staff, and consultants. Employing a multidisciplinary approach, we work with experts in the fields of computer science, software development, mathematical and applied statistics, and demography.

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Patrick Ball, PhD

Executive Director
More than twenty years of quantitative analysis for truth commissions, non-governmental organizations, international criminal tribunals, and United Nations missions.

Megan Price, PhD

Director of Research
Designs strategies and methods for statistical analysis of human rights data for projects in a variety of locations including Guatemala, Colombia, and Syria.

Kristian Lum, PhD

Statistician
Furthers the statistical methodology most commonly used by HRDAG—population estimation—with a particular emphasis on Bayesian methods and model averaging.

Suzanne Nathans

Administrative Manager
15 years of experience in non-profit administration. The “admin hub” for HRDAG, supporting Patrick and the rest of the team from the San Francisco office.

Christine Grillo

Communications
Directs the organization’s message through a variety of online outlets and monitors the social media landscape around HRDAG.
Featured Talk
HRDAG team members present talks around the world to communities who want to better understand the power of data analysis to defend human rights. View All Talks

Digital Echoes: Understanding Patterns of Mass Violence with Data and Statistics

May 28 @ 6:00 pm
Open Society Foundations–New York,
224 West 57th Street , New York , 10019 United States
- Google Map

Hosted by the Open Society Foundations with Elizabeth Eagen. Statistical patterns in raw data tend to be quite different than patterns in the real world: patterns in data tend to reflect how the data was collected rather than changes in the real-world phenomena the data appears to represent. Using analysis of killings in Iraq, homicides committed by police in the United States, killings in the conflict in Syria, and homicides in Colombia, Patrick Ball will explore how biases in raw data can be corrected through estimation, and why understanding the accurate statistical patterns of violence is essential to the project of advancing rights and ...

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Featured Video

“Solving for X” is a feature-length documentary about the quantitative approach taken by HRDAG and was directed by Theo Lipfert.

Our work has been used by truth commissions, international criminal tribunals, and non-gonvernmental human rights organizations. We have worked with partners on projects on five continents.

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