University of Minnesota
Human Rights Program

Human Rights Program.

Human Rights Program


  • Applications Invited for Fall 2016 Inaugural Master of Human Rights Class; Faculty Committee Appointed

    In light of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents September vote of approval to initiate a Master of Human Rights (MHR) degree at the University of Minnesota, faculty and staff in the College of Liberal Arts and Humphrey School of Public Affairs have been hard at work preparing the degree for its inaugural cohort in the 2016-2017 year.

    The interdisciplinary degree is designed to provide students with the diverse substantive and methodological approaches necessary for the study and practice of human rights. Throughout the program, students will be able to draw upon and develop these theoretical and practical tools in a wide range of courses, internships, and field experiences available with leading global scholars and activists in human rights. To further develop students’ professional skills, the program also includes a wide range of concentrations in the field of human rights. Whether it is NGO management or the rights of refugees and asylum, students will be able to support their individual expertise and interests as they complete their Master of Human Rights.

    The Faculty Committee for the new Master’s program was appointed by the offices of the Deans of CLA and the Humphrey School. At its first meeting, Lisa Hilbink (Associate Professor, Political Science) and James Ron (Associate Professor, Political Science and Humphrey School) were elected co-chairs of the Master’s faculty. The remaining committee members include:
    • Cawo Abdi, Associate Professor, Sociology 
    • Ragui Assaad, Professor, Humphrey School
    • Alejandro Baer, Associate Professor, Sociology 
    • Laura Bloomberg, Associate Dean, Humphrey School
    • Elizabeth Heger Boyle, Professor, Sociology
    • Karen Brown, Co-Director, Interdisciplinary Center for Global Change
    • Mary Curtin, Diplomat-in-Residence, Humphrey School
    • Ana Forcinito, Professor, Spanish and Portuguese Studies
    • Barbara Frey, Director, Human Rights Program
    • Greta Friedemann-Sánchez, Associate Professor, Humphrey School
    • Deborah Levison, Professor, Humphrey School
    • Samuel L. Myers Jr., Professor, Humphrey School
    • Sarah E. Parkinson, Assistant Professor, Humphrey School
    • Alex Rothman, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs, CLA
    • Joachim J. Savelsberg, Professor, Sociology
    • Melissa M. Stone, Professor, Humphrey School

    Students interested in the MHR should visit its new website and download a brochure for more information. Applications for Fall 2016 will become available in October. Please do not hesitate to contact the admissions office ( or the Coordinator of the Master of Human Rights, Mary Curtin, ( with any questions.
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  • New Master of Human Rights at the University of Minnesota

    The Human Rights Program is thrilled to announce that the University of Minnesota Board of Regents voted on September 11, 2015 to approve the creation of a Master of Human Rights (MHR) degree. The two-year interdisciplinary program, jointly offered by the College of Liberal Arts and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, will prepare students with the professional and conceptual knowledge necessary to work in the field of human rights and equip them with the analytical skills and tools critically important to most effectively addressing some of the world’s toughest human rights challenges.

    Looking ahead, we are excited to take the next steps by building an interdisciplinary base of talented scholars, faculty, and leaders in the human rights discipline to lead the program. We also look forward to beginning to promote the degree as we seek out a diverse group of students to admit for the 2016-2017 school year!
    We thank all who have contributed to and supported this project over the years, and we look forward to the continued engagement as we bring the program to life. Please do not hesitate to contact Mary Curtin, former diplomat-in-residence and current Coordinator of the Master of Human Rights, at with any questions.

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  • Fulbright Scholar Alejandro Anaya Muñoz at the University of Minnesota

    Visiting Professor Alejandro Anaya Muñoz’s career is a reflection of his dedication to the study and protection of human rights and indigenous peoples in Mexico. Anaya obtained his BA in International Relations from Universidad Iberoamericana, in Mexico. He holds a Master's in Theory and Practice of Human Rights and a PhD in government from the University of Essex. As of November of 2012, Anaya has been a Board member of the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights, a leading human rights NGO in Mexico. During 2011 – 2015, he was the Director of the “Central Region” campus of the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), a leading research and higher education institution in Mexico. He is a tenured Professor of International Studies at CIDE. Anaya also served as Associate Professor and Head of the Department of International Studies at the Universidad Iberoamericana, in Mexico City from 2005 to 2008, and Coordinator of the Human Rights Program from 2004 to 2005.  Previously, Anaya served as Assistant Professor in the Department of Social, Legal and Political Studies, at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO), from 2003 to 2004. 

    Anaya was awarded a Fulbright grant for 2015-16 to continue his research, engage students in the classroom and disseminate his knowledge more broadly throughout the community here in the Twin Cities.  He plans to teach a course in the Spring 2016 semester examining human rights through an international relations perspective. His current research explores the influence over state discourse and behavior of the UN Human Rights Committee reporting procedure.  In addition to this research and teaching, Anaya will be organizing an academic conference in October (sponsored by both the Human Rights Program and CIDE), which will bring together scholars from Mexico and the U.S. to discuss the human rights crisis in Mexico.  The outcome of the conference is expected to be a book, edited by Professor Anaya, together Barb Frey, Director of the Human Rights Program, and James Ron, professor of political science. 

    From 1996 to 1998, Anaya helped design and carry out human rights workshops with indigenous communities in Chiapas, Mexico, at the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre. These workshops focused on human rights reporting to international organizations, NGOs and funding agencies as well as international lobbying.  Before conducting these workshops, from 1994 to 1995, Anaya carried out training in human rights advocacy for Guatemalan refugees in Chiapas and the process of return for these refugees through the Comite Cristiano de Solidaridad in Comitan, Chiapas.  

    Professor Anaya has published several books and articles concerning human rights, indigenous rights and cultural diversity in Mexico in journals such as the Human Rights Quarterly, the International Journal of Human Rights and the Journal of Latin American Studies. The following is a selection of his academic work, recognition and courses taught:

    Select Publications:

    • Alejandro Anaya Muñoz, Los derechos humanos en y desde las Relaciones Internacionales [Human Rights in International Relations], Mexico City: Centro de Investigación y Docenia Económicas, 2014.
    • Alejandro Anaya Muñoz, El país bajo presión. Debatiendo el papel del escrutinio internacional de derechos humanos sobre México [The country under pressure. A debate on the role of international human rights scrutiny over Mexico], Mexico City: Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, 2012.
    • Alejandro Anaya Muñoz, Autonomía indígena, gobernabilidad y legitimidad en México. La legalización de los “usos y costumbres” electorales en Oaxaca [Indigenous autonomy, gobernability and legitimacy in Mexico. The legalization of electoral “usos y costumbres” in Oaxaca], Mexico City: Universidad Iberoamericana and Plaza y Valdez, 2006.
    • Alejandro Anaya Muñoz, “Communicative interaction between Mexico and its international critics around the issue of military jurisdiction: ‘Rhetorical action’ or ‘truth seeking arguing’?” Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 13, No. 4, 2014, pp. 434-455.
    • Alejandro Anaya Muñoz, “Transnational and domestic processes in the definition of human rights policies in Mexico”, Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2009, pp. 35-58. 
    • Alejandro Anaya Muñoz, “Política exterior y derechos humanos durante el gobierno de Felipe Calderón” [“Foreign Policy and Human Rights in the Government of Felipe Calderon”], Foro Internacional, Vol. 53, Nos. 3-4, 2013, pp. 771-793.
    • Alejandro Anaya Muñoz and Olga Aikin, “Crisis de derechos humanos de las personas migrantes en tránsito por México: redes y presión transnacional”  [“Crisis of the human rights of migrants in transit through Mexico: networks and transnational pressure”], Foro Internacional, Vol. 53, No. 1, 2013, pp. 143-181.  

    Awards, recognitions and grants:

    • Member of the National System of Researchers of Mexico's National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT) since 2005, level 2
    • Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. Mexico Public Policy Scholar Grant. Woodrow Wilson Center-Mexican Council of Foreign Affairs (Summer of 2008 and Summer of 2012)
    • The British Council. Chevening Scholarship (1998-1999)

    Courses taught:
    • Human Rights in International Relations
    • Human Rights in International and Domestic Politics
    • Introduction to International Relations
    • International Relations Theory
    • International Regimes
    • Research Seminar

    We are excited to host Professor Anaya for the 2015-2016 school year, and we look forward to his contributions to both the University community and the field of human rights!

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Upcoming Events

Human Rights Beat

  • Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden 'black site'

    The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site. The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago's west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights. Continue reading on The Guardian's website.

    March 6th, 2015
  • Amnesty International requests letter signing for Syrian asylum seekers pressured to return

    Reports in the media show that staff at the Manus Island, Papua New Guinea detention centre, run by the Australian Government, are pressuring Syrian asylum seekers to return to Syria where they will be in extreme danger. Read more on the Amnesty International website.

    June 10th, 2014
  • The ICRC releases video on Colombian human rights situation

    It's a crucial time for Colombia with presidential elections slated for this Sunday and ongoing peace talks between the government and FARC guerrillas continuing in Havana, Cuba. In a new Intercross video, the head of the ICRC's delegation in Bogotá, Jordi Raich, says Colombia is at a crossroads -- poised on the verge of economic growth, shrinking poverty, and the potential to put an end to half a century of war. Watch the video on the Intercross website.

    May 28th, 2014
  • US: A Nation Behind Bars

    Far too many US laws violate basic principles of justice by requiring disproportionately severe punishment, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The 36-page report, "Nation Behind Bars: A Human Rights Solution," notes that laws requiring penalties that are far longer than necessary to meet the purposes of punishment have given the United States the world's highest reported rate of incarceration. These laws have spawned widespread and well-founded public doubts about the fairness of the US criminal justice system. Continue reading on the Human Rights Watch website.

    May 7th, 2014