ASA Commemorates Human Rights Day on December 10

The ASA joins the world-wide commemoration of Human Rights Day on December 10—the anniversary of when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Through its own Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights and separate membership in the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition, the ASA supports the upholding of human rights throughout the international community.

Aside from policymakers, law enforcement, and advocates, statisticians play a key role in advancing and protecting human rights, particularly among vulnerable populations in developing countries. Among the many ASA members who collect data on a range of social justice issues and provide invaluable, objective analysis and contributions to the field of human rights are the following:

  • Megan Price and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) use statistics to help answer questions about social justice, address human rights violations, and contribute evidence to war crimes trials.
  • Davina Durgana of the Walk Free Foundation helped establish the Global Slavery Index and uses statistics to quantify the existence of modern slavery.
  • Robin Mejia manages the Statistics and Human Rights Program at the Carnegie Mellon University Center for Human Rights Science.
  • Ali Arab of Georgetown University has been instrumental in advocating for statisticians to raise awareness regarding the misuses of statistics that may lead to human rights violations and urges statisticians to recognize both scientific research freedoms and the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress throughout research, teaching, and collaborative efforts.
  • Daniel Guzmán testified as an expert witness in Guatemala during a case involving two former police agents accused of violently disappearing a Guatemalan union activist in 1984. The court’s ruling, which resulted in the conviction of the involved police forces, is not only a triumph for human rights, but also a reflection of the crucial role statisticians can play in serving justice globally.
  • Patrick Ball of HRDAG coauthored a technical memo that accompanied the Amnesty International report detailing conditions and mortality in Syrian prisons from 2011 to 2015. The HRDAG team used data from four sources to find 12,270 fully documented, identifiable people killed while in detention. The team of scientists then used multiple systems estimation to estimate the number of undocumented killings in the prisons during the same period.

Ali Arab and Mary Gray are the ASA representatives to the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition.