The Human Rights Section offers annual awards for Best Paper, Best Dissertation, Best Book, and Distinguished Scholar in Human Rights. Nominations should be submitted to all members of a committee, with a cover letter summarizing the contribution to human rights scholarship and supporting material of the paper, dissertation, book, or c.v. of the nominee. Supporting material may be attached in electronic form for best paper, electronic or hard copy for best dissertation, but best book nominations must be mailed to committee members (please consult them for preferred mailing address).

Best Dissertation Award to Kelebogile Zvobgo, of the College of William & Mary, for her dissertation “Governing Truth: NGOs and the Politics of Transitional Justice.”

The APSA Human Rights Section is delighted to present this year’s Best Dissertation Award to Kelebogile Zvobgo, of the College of William & Mary, for her dissertation “Governing Truth: NGOs and the Politics of Transitional Justice.” Zvobgo’s dissertation considers why some governments adopt transitional-justice institutions while others do not. Focusing on truth commissions, Zvobgo explains the emergence, the characteristics, and the domestic effects of these institutions, all of which are highly pertinent to human rights concerns. She generates a novel and impressive cross-national dataset (“Varieties of Truth Commissions”), to which she adds a set of case studies, to test her hypotheses. Contrary to received understandings, Zvobgo finds that groups in civil society are essential actors throughout the process of forming and implementing transitional justice. She notes that civil-society groups seem even to set the agenda for transitional reforms more than government does. Zvobgo offers the compelling suggestion that transitional-justice processes can be done well, furthermore, notably when they involve actors in civil society during adoption, design, and follow-up. Not only governmental and official policies and responses matter to transitional justice, Zvobgo concludes; scholars and practitioners of transitional justice need to take civil-society actors more seriously.

This year’s Best Dissertation Award committee consisted of Lucas Swaine (chair), Michael Struett, and Carrie Walling. The committee was very impressed with the breadth and depth of Zvobgo’s analysis, and it expects that Zvobgo’s scholarship will be an important and lasting contribution to human rights literature.

Richard P. Hiskes winner of the 2022 APSA Organized Section on Human Rights Distinguished Human Rights Scholar Award

Richard P. Hiskes

Professor Emeritus
Political Science and Human Rights
University of Connecticut

 The APSA Organized Section on Human Rights is delighted to present the 2022 Distinguished Human Rights Scholar Award to Professor Emeritus Richard P. Hiskes. Professor Hiskes has contributed to the field of Human Rights as a scholar, teacher, mentor, and through his distinguished service to both his academic institutions and the APSA Human Rights Section. His scholarship advanced the debates on inter-generational rights, environmental justice and rights, and children’s rights. His pioneering book, The Human Rights to a Green Future: Environmental Rights and Intergenerational Justice (Cambridge University Press  2009) won the 2010 APSA Human Rights Section’s Best Book Award. He is a dedicated teacher who trained generations of students, some of whom then became human rights scholars or practitioners. He played a leading role in the establishment of the human rights programs — first at the University of Connecticut and then at Grand Valley State University — and served as a consultant for the establishment of programs at several other colleges and universities. An engaged member of the APSA Human Rights Section, Hiskes was elected President of the Section in 2013-2014 and stepped in again in 2015-2016 when he helped steer the Section through some difficult times. As Editor of The Journal of Human Rights for seven years, he facilitated human rights scholarships and raised the profile of that journal. He mentored junior scholars within his home institutions, through the APSA Human Rights Section and as Editor of The Journal of Human Rights. He has been a source of inspiration both to his colleagues and students.  In sum, Professor Hiskes has contributed to human rights continuously and in many ways. While the rapid growth of the field of Human Rights and the APSA Human Rights Section is due to the contribution of numerous scholars, it is hard to match Professor Hiskes’ level of dedication or widespread impact that extends over scholarship, mentorship, teaching, publishing, program development, and institution building.

Previous Human Rights Section Award Recipients

All section 36. Human Rights awards to-date »


President. Kristen Renwick Monroe, University of California at Irvine.
VP: Bethany Barratt, Roosevelt University
VP-designate: Mneesha Gellman, Emerson College. Program organizer 2022-23
Secretary: Audrey Comstock, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
Treasurer: Michael Struett, North Carolina State University
Social Media Coordinator: Kyle Rapp, University of Southern California
Webmaster: Andrada Costoiu, University of Illinois, Chicago Circle and UC Irvine
Members at Large: Lydia Tiede, University of Houston
Carrie Walling, Albion College
Carla De Ycazas, New York University.

AWARD COMMITTEES: The Human Rights Section offers annual awards for Best Paper, Best Dissertation, Best Book, and Distinguished Scholar in Human Rights. Nominations for all awards (except Best Book award) should be submitted to all members of a committee by June 15, 2022. Supporting material may be attached in electronic form for the best paper or hard copy for best dissertation and best book although best book committee members may prefer a hard copy.  Please consult them for their preferred mailing addresses.

DISTINGUISHED SCHOLAR AWARD: Given every three years to a section member who has made a major contribution to the advancement of human rights scholarship and to our community through their research, teaching, mentoring of others, creation of opportunities for exchange and collaboration among scholars, or other means.

Distinguished scholars will:

  • Have records of scholarly excellence, as demonstrated in their publications, grants, pedagogical accomplishments, and/or outreach and engagement efforts;
  • Have been active participants in the section, now or in the past, and have contributed to the maintenance of our scholarly community in some meaningful way (e.g., in a leadership or mentoring role, as an active panel or workshop participant, etc.);
  • Be at least 10 years from the date of their Ph.D. degrees.

Nomination procedure. Nomination packages should include a letter of nomination describing how the nominee meets the award criteria, a copy of the nominee’s full cv, and letters from up to four people in support of the nomination. Self-nominations are not accepted. The committee will consider all nominations but reserves the right not to make an award if no nominees fulfill the criteria.  The committee acknowledges that the division of academic labor remains deeply gendered, racialized, and hierarchical, including with respect to institutional type and type of academic appointment or affiliation. We therefore especially invite nominations of scholars and scholar-activists who have made significant contributions to our field and profession in ways that work to challenge and eradicate these forms of domination.

 Award committee members:

Chair: Brooke Ackerly,  Vanderbilt. brooke.ackerly@Vanderbilt.Edu
Kristen Renwick Monroe, UC Irvine.
Zehra Arat, University of Connecticut.


This competition is open to all books on human rights written by a political scientist and published in the previous twoyears. Please send one hard copy or pdf of the book to each member of the award committee. Deadline for nominations: May 15th , 2022

Award committee members: Email members directly to determine preferred form – pdf or hard copy of book – and address during COVID-19.
Chair, George Andreopolous, John Jay College of Criminal
Alison Renteln, USC.
Lucrecia García Iommi, Fairfield, University.

Mailing Address. Prof. George Andreopoulos, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York,  524 West 59th Street, Suite 603.08 BMW, New York, N.Y. 10019


Nomination Instructions: Send copies of the nominated dissertation and a letter of support from the dissertation Chair, which should specify the contribution of the work to the field of human rights within no more than 1000 words, to ALL members of the Dissertation Award Committee by email. The dissertation may be pdf or hard copy. Please check with award committee members for their preferences.

  Award committee members:
Chair, Lucas Swaine, Dartmouth.
Michael Struett, North Carolina State University.
Carrie Walling, Albion College.


This award recognizes the best paper presented on a Human Rights Section Panel at the APSA Annual Meeting.

Nomination procedures. Submit nominations, including a copy of the paper, to all members of the committee via email.

            Award Committee members:

Chair, Brian Greenhill, SUNY Albany.
Shareen Hertel,  University of Connecticut.
Karen Zivi, Grand Valley State University.