SIM is the key centre of expertise of human rights research and education at Utrecht University.
The Netherlands Institute of Human Rights offers internationally oriented study programmes, conducts interdisciplinary research and organises a range of activities in the field of human rights.
Established in 1981 as a research support institute for a group of Dutch human rights NGOs, SIM has become integrated into Utrecht University over time. SIM was one of the founders of the Netherlands School of Human Rights Research and is the home of the Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights. Famous human rights researchers have headed SIM since its creation, including Hans Thoolen, Manfred Nowak, Peter Baehr, Cees Flinterman and Jenny Goldschmidt. Antoine Buyse is SIM’s current director. With a rich tradition and a keen eye for current and future developments in the field of human rights, SIM is a leading academic research institute and the home base of a vibrant, interdisciplinary and international group of researchers, lecturers, and PhD students.
Human rights research is part and parcel of Utrecht Law School’s five research programmes, of the University ‘s research focus area Cultures, Citizenship and Human Rights, and the University’s strategic theme ‘Institutions – Understanding the Dynamics of Open Societies’. Transitional justice, regional human rights mechanisms, human rights protection during and after conflict, and the interplay between human rights and international and EU law are some of our main fields of expertise. Click here for an overview of current and recent research projects at SIM.
SIM offers human rights courses at the Bachelor level within the Law School and at Utrecht University College. In addition, SIM offers a human rights specialization within the Public International Law LL.M. and participates in the Utrecht MA Conflict Studies and Human Rights and the prestigious European MA Human Rights and Democratisation in Venice. Click here for a full overview of our teaching.
For many years, SIM systematically made human rights materials accessible and searchable online for everyone through its databases. These include the texts of human rights treaties, case-law, general comments and concluding observations of the United Nations human rights institutions. As of 2015, these databases are available through the website of the United Nations.
Honorary and Emeritus Professors and Researchers
A number of leading human rights researchers are still actively connected to SIM, either in a honorary or emeritus capacity :
- Jenny Goldschmidt, professor emerita
- Cees Flinterman, honorary professor, member of the UN Human Rights Committee
- Bas de Gaay Fortman, professor emeritus
- Leo Zwaak, senior researcher emeritus
SIM is an active participant in a number of leading national and international networks in the field of human rights: the Netherlands School of Human Rights Research, the Association of Human Rights Institutes, and the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation. Click here for more information.