Keough School and Organization of American States partner to protect democracy and human rights

The University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs and the Organization of American States (OAS) have launched a new partnership to strengthen democracy and defend human rights efforts across Latin America. To that end, the institutions will collaborate on joint research and policy projects, exchange faculty experts and train undergraduate and postgraduate students and researchers who work in development, human rights and democracy.   

The partnership, outlined in a cooperation agreement, deepens the existing relationship between the Keough School and the OAS, which share a focus on defending democracy and human rights. It will facilitate additional opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration among researchers, students and policymakers, with the ultimate goal of fighting poverty, building peace and strengthening democracy in an era of backsliding. 

Andrés Mejía Acosta, the Keough School’s Kuster Family Associate Dean for Policy and Practice, and OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro praised the agreement.

“We salute our partnership with the OAS, an organization committed to strengthening democracy, the protection of citizen’s rights and social inclusion,” Mejía Acosta said. “We look forward to making our research knowledge more accessible, exchanging policy lessons and offering students practical experiences by working with OAS colleagues in Washington, D.C. and the region.”

Almagro agreed.

“This partnership marks a significant step forward in our shared commitment to upholding the principles of democracy and advancing the well-being of our hemisphere,” Almagro said. “The University of Notre Dame’s dedication to excellence in education and research is renowned, and we are honored to partner with such a distinguished institution. By joining forces, we strengthen our capacity to promote cooperative research and to facilitate the exchange of ideas on issues related to democracy, development and human rights in the OAS member states.”

The collaboration draws on the expertise of faculty and researchers in the Keough School’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies, which specializes in democracy; in its Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies; and in its Pulte Institute for Global Development. In addition, it leverages the experiential learning opportunities available across the school and its nine institutes and centers. Finally, it enables Keough School students to learn from the real-world experience of professionals at the OAS.  

The arrangement will: 

  • Facilitate dialogue among faculty, staff and administrators who translate research for policy impact; 
  • Strengthen postgraduate training at the Keough School; 
  • Encourage joint conferences and meetings on key issues of shared interest;  
  • Facilitate the exchange of academic materials;
  • Provide experiential learning opportunities for Keough School students who can help support OAS goals. 

The agreement is the latest development in an ongoing relationship, since the school and the OAS have worked closely together for years. In 2023, the Keough School partnered with the OAS’ Department of Social Inclusion to host a training for diplomats that explored migration, asylum and forced displacement in the Americas. And in 2021, the school partnered with the OAS’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for a series of panel discussions on promoting human rights.

Mejía Acosta said the partnership will also enable the Keough School to influence policy by leveraging expertise from its core research programs. 

“Our experts will share rigorous academic research that has clear takeaways for policymakers and practitioners,” Mejía Acosta said. “This evidence-based approach will ensure that policy design and implementation is effective and impactful. We are honored to work with our friends and colleagues at the OAS to help support their mission. We share their belief that one of the best ways to support human dignity is by defending human rights, and we look forward to strengthening and deepening our partnership in the coming years.” 

Top photo: From left, Scott Appleby, Marilyn Keough Dean of the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs, and Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro celebrate the announcement of a new partnership to protect human rights and democracy.

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