Current Projects

Venezuela Accountability Project (VAP) 

Student Leaders: Adrian Piecyk (2L), Jason Quinn (2L), Samantha Misner (3L) 

Partner Organization: Global Accountability Network (GAN) 

Building off work that commenced in 2020, this Working Group continues its partnership with the Global Accountability Network (GAN) on the Venezuela Accountability Project (VAP) to collect, compile, and analyse evidence of crimes against humanity committed in Venezuela. In partnership with GAN, VAP aims to gather evidence that may help form the basis of prosecutions before competent international, regional, or domestic tribunals.

GAN is a group of international criminal prosecutors and practitioners who supervise law students working on specific atrocity projects. GAN lawyers collaborate with local partners in conflict regions (currently operating in: Syria, Yemen, Ukrainian, Pacific Rim, and Venezuela) to determine research aims, project priorities, and promote meaningful social change. Working Group members learn how to engage in open-source investigations, research, and legal analysis regarding alleged war crimes and/or crimes against humanity.

As a project of GAN, VAP shares in GAN’s vision to seek accountability for atrocities by working with as many partners as possible (including Venezuelan grassroots organisations, United Nations bodies, and NGOs) to address the conflict in Venezuela.

Cameroon Atrocities Project (CAP) 

Student Leaders: Julia Cappellaci (3L), Eric Li (3L)

Members of the IHRP Cameroon Atrocities Project Working Group (CAP) contribute to the Cameroon Anglophone Crisis Database of Atrocities (Database), which seeks to securely store and verify digital evidence of war crimes and human rights abuses perpetrated during the ongoing Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon (a brief overview of the conflict is available here). Since its creation in 2019, the Database has recorded over 800 incidents, securely storing over 2000 pieces of digital evidence. The Database has also verified and published reports documenting specific atrocities, which may be publicly accessed here.

Incidents investigated by the Database and its researchers are forming part of efforts for justice, both domestically in Cameroon and internationally. More specifically, by compiling and investigating such evidence of atrocities, the Database aims to:

  1. Secure evidence for future domestic and international accountability procedures and potentially for a national truth, justice, and reconciliation process;
  2. Counter the culture of impunity that has pervaded this crisis since it began in 2016;
  3. Assist in advocating for human rights in Cameroon (the Database’s most recent cases were published by CHRDA and the Cameroonian press);
  4. Constitute an archive for scholarly research on Cameroon and the Anglophone Crisis and conflict; and
  5. Serve as a deterrent to warring parties from engaging in further atrocities.

The Database is hosted at the University of Toronto and in addition to the IHRP, works with research teams from several universities around the world including Leiden University, the Edinburgh International Justice Initiative, and the University of Exeter. The Database also works with rights-advocacy organizations such as the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (20222021 Press Releases), the Human Rights Center at the University of California – Berkeley, Bellingcat (2021 article), Human Rights Watch (2022 article), and Amnesty International. Please find media reports on the Database here: Forbes (2020), RFI (2020), DW (2019).

Members of this IHRP student working group contribute to the Database by using open-source intelligence (OSINT) methods to verify photo and video evidence submitted to the Database. Through CAP, students will work with satellite imagery, weather data, solar positioning data, social media, and other online tools to verify that submitted evidence indeed depicts real atrocities being committed at the alleged times and locations. The students will then compile their findings into a report, which may be used as evidence in any future legal proceedings that may occur after the cessation of the conflict.

 Women's Human Rights Resources (WHRR) 

Student Leaders: Aliya Hemani (3L), Megan Peters (3L) 

Partner Organization: Bora Laskin Law Library, University of Toronto Faculty of Law

In 1995, the University of Toronto Faculty of Law created the Women’s Human Rights Resources (WHRR) database, now available on the Bora Laskin Law Library website (here). The database is a tool used by academics and human rights defenders across the globe to access research that was previously only available in law libraries. The goal of this database is to make these sources more accessible to scholars, activists, and other stakeholders around the world. University of Toronto Professor Rebecca Cook, a women’s rights pioneer and founder of the database, drove the creation of the WHRR. In her words, the WHRR “is such an important way for students to advance the field of women’s rights.”

The database provides annotations for key UN documents and leading scholarly articles on a range of topics including armed conflict, the CEDAW Convention, economic globalization, Indigenous women, key treaties and texts, marriage, migration, property law and housing rights, race and gender, reproductive rights, social and economic rights, violence against women, and the World Conference on Women’s Rights. The WHRR database receives more than 15,000 hits per month, with diverse users from over 100 countries. Participation in this year’s group, will offer students an effective and rewarding way to develop legal research and writing skills outside of the classroom meanwhile gaining foundational knowledge on the latest developments in key areas of  women’s human rights on an international scale.  

Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan (GAA) 

Student Leaders: Nicholas Slawnych (2L), Manreet Brar (2L) 

Partner: Ghizal Haress

Initiated this year (2023), the IHRP's Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan (GAA) working group produces research on the alleged  international human rights violations of gender apartheid in Afghanistan, and investigates the potential role of the international community (including Canada) in enabling the current situation on the ground. 

Working with Ghizal Haress (UofT Scholar-at-Risk), students used their research to prepare a report with recommendations, which they presented to Canada's Special Representative to Afghanistan on March 28, 2024.