Human Rights Resilience Project

The Human Rights Resilience Project is an interdisciplinary research initiative co-led by Margaret Satterthwaite, CHRGJ’s Faculty Director, in collaboration with Sarah Knuckey and Anjli Parrin of Columbia Law School and Adam Brown and Manaswi Sangraula of The New School. Since 2015, a research team of human rights lawyers and psychologists have been working to document, raise awareness, and develop culturally-sensitive training programs to promote well-being and resilience among human rights workers. The project is grounded in the belief that the well-being of human rights activists is essential for sustainable movements.


The project’s initial phase consisted of an online survey of human rights workers based in dozens of countries. An analysis of survey results, published in December 2015, found high rates of adverse mental health impacts among the 346 respondents. Of those studied, 19% appeared to have PTSD, 19% had significant symptoms associated with PTSD, 15% seemed to be experiencing depression, and 19% reported burnout—rates comparable to those found among first responders and combat veterans.

With a grant from Open Society Foundations, the research team is currently mapping the ways in which human rights organizations manage and deal with the chronic stress, vicarious trauma, and trauma associated with the work. The aim is to understand the well-being challenges and opportunities in the human rights field, and the resources and approaches that human rights groups and organizations have found to be useful in protecting the well-being and mental health of their staff and volunteers.

Margaret L. Satterthwaite
CHRGJ Faculty Director
Margaret Satterthwaite, a faculty member of NYU School of Law, is on leave from directing GJC while she holds the mandate of UN SR IJL
Professor of Clinical Law
Alice Nah
Affiliate, Human Rights Resilience Project
Douglas Mathew Mawadri
Affiliate, Human Rights Resilience Project
May 24, 2019
The Human Rights Resilience Project Publishes First Global Study of Organizational Responses to Mental Health Risks in the Human Rights Field
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May 21, 2018
Human Rights Resilience Project Launches New Website
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Press Coverage
March 12, 2018
Researching Resilience: Margaret Satterthwaite ’99 examines the effects of human rights work on the mental health of advocates
NYU School of Law
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April 30, 2020
COVID-19 and Mental Health: Wellbeing and Resilience During the Pandemic
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November 1, 2019
Mental Health and Human Rights: Future Challenges and Opportunities
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February 14, 2018
Building Resilience for Social Justice: A Skills Workshop
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