"An introduction to interviewing in situations of armed conflict"

Facilitator: Bonnie Docherty

Bonnie is a Senior Clinical Instructor at the Human Rights Program and a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. She is also a Senior Researcher in the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch.

Preparatory Reading:

More About the Training:

Doing field investigations in situations of armed conflict presents special challenges and requires a range of skills and expertise. Some of the tools are relevant for all human rights researchers, some are especially important to researchers focusing on issues of international humanitarian law. This workshop will begin by introducing the techniques necessary for any fact-finding mission, while emphasizing those critical for conflict and post-conflict research on civilian casualties.

Interviewing, the focus of the workshop, is one of the most essential skills for this line of work. After giving an overview of methods used by researchers, the workshop will teach students basic guidelines for interviewing a variety of actors, such as victims and witnesses, government officials, and military personnel. Students will have the opportunity to engage in an interviewing exercise during the workshop and to debrief, ask questions, and share lessons learned afterwards.

Students are asked to read the interviewing tips sheet (see Preparatory Readings, above) before coming to the workshop. This short document will help them get more out of the interview training.

More About Bonnie Docherty:

Bonnie Docherty is an expert on disarmament and international humanitarian law, particularly involving cluster munitions and civilian protection during armed conflict. Since 2001, she has played an active role, as both lawyer and field researcher, in the campaign against cluster munitions. Docherty participated in negotiations for the Convention on Cluster Munitions and has promoted strong implementation of the convention since its adoption in 2008. Her in-depth field investigations of cluster munition use in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Georgia helped galvanize international opposition to the weapons. Docherty has documented the civilian effects of armed conflict more broadly in Gaza, Israel, and Iraq and done research and advocacy surrounding incendiary weapons. She also has expertise in human rights and the environment, particularly the effects of mining on disadvantaged communities, and in freedom of expression.

Docherty has written widely on these topics. Her publications on international humanitarian law include: Meeting the Challenge: Protecting Civilians through the Convention on Cluster Munitions (Human Rights Watch, 2010); The Convention on Cluster Munitions: A Commentary (Oxford University Press, 2010) (contributing author); and Breaking New Ground: The Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Evolution of International Humanitarian Law, 33 Human Rights Quarterly 934 (2009). Her publications on human rights and the environment include: Bearing the Burden: The Effects of Mining on First Nations in British Columbia (IHRC, 2010) (co-author); Confronting a Rising Tide: A Proposal for a Convention on Climate Change Refugees, 33 Harvard Environmental Law Review 349 (2009) (with Tyler Giannini); and Challenging Boundaries: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and International Environmental Law Protection, 10 NYU Environmental Law Journal 70 (2001).

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