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Assessing the IMPACT of Urgent Measures in Protecting At-Risk Detainees in Latin America (IMPACTUM)", is a large-scale research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and hosted at Ghent University (Belgium). The project is directed by Prof Dr Clara Burbano Herrera (Principal Investigator) and aims to examine the diverse impacts of urgent measures (UMs) adopted by international human rights bodies to protect persons deprived of liberty in six Latin American countries. 

The project proposes a study of UMs that: 1) considers the context in which UMs are enforced and how they are applied on the ground; 2) assesses the impacts of UMs on detainees, legal and institutional systems, and on (inter)national actors; 3) discusses their strengths and limitations; and 4) analyses their wider learning effects. This project combines research methods including desk research with (qualitative) empirical research methods. 

IMPACTUM aims to develop a critical normative impact framework useful to provide a deeper theoretical analysis, as well as insight into how to formulate UMs to maximise their practical protective effects. IMPACTUM will thus uncover and present new knowledge on emerging issues with UMs that are currently unaddressed in academia and practice.

You can find more information about the research project and team by reading our brochure, which is available in English (click here) and Spanish (click here).

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IMPACTUM's core team is currently composed of six researchers coming from different disciplines, backgrounds, and countries. They are Prof Dr Clara Burbano Herrera (Principal investigator), Ms Luna Negro, Ms Alberte Hansen, Ms Charlotte Vercammen, Ms Kate Murphy, and Mr German Parra.

Experts in the fields of law, criminology, and political science, bring to IMPACTUM an array of perspectives and experiences.


IMPACTUM requires a broader understanding than is offered by a single discipline. International human rights law offers insight into the legal and human rights aspects of the topic, while criminology provides insights into society’s reaction to crime and detainees and real-world experience of the criminal justice system. The study of politics, policy-making, and implementation complements these perspectives by providing a richer contextual understanding of how UMs work on the ground.

The combination of academic backgrounds enables us to conduct a truly interdisciplinary study and to forge a new way of looking at Urgent Measures, drawing on the strengths of the various group members to ensure creative and solution-oriented thinking. 

The host institution is Ghent University, and all team members are affiliated with the Programme for Studies on Human Rights in Context, within the Human Rights Centre, and the Department of European, Public and International Law of the Faculty of Law and Criminology.

The research is made possible thanks to funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2021 research and innovation programme

(Grant Agreement 101044852)

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Analytical Framework 


The framework for the analysis of UMs will include the measurement of direct and observable effects of UMs (direct impact) as well as indirect or transformative effects (indirect impact) that may manifest over the short-, medium-, and long-term (Gloppen 2009; Rodríguez/Rodríguez 2010; Bogdandy et al. 2010 / 2014 / 2017 / 2019; Burbano Herrera / Haeck 2019; Engstrom 2019).

The team will assess the impact of UMs at various levels: At the level of

  • power-relations;

  • discourses and ideas;

  • at the institutional level;

  • stimulating positive changes and overcoming barriers 

Case Selection

The country case study selection process was conducted based on which countries were most similar in type. This permits us to gain a contextual, in-depth, and comprehensive understanding of how UMs are applied in countries with significant institutional, legal, and political commonalities.


The core countries for the IMPACTUM case studies are: 


Click on each country to learn about their  current prison context and click here (in English)click here (in Spanish) to get a general overview of human rights and persons deprived of liberty in Latin America.

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IMPACTUM research team together with Human Rights in Context regularly submit contributions to diverse human rights bodies. We are proud to share these contributions and we truly hope they will contribute to the effective protection of persons currently deprived of liberty in extreme and imminent danger around the world. 

We have presented the following contributions to:

  • The Human Rights Council: Contribution at the request of the Human Rights Council Resolution 54/6 on the centrality of care and support from a Human rights Perspective, 12 April 2024

  • ​The Special Rapporteur on Torture: Contribution on Current issues and Good Practices in Prison Management to the Thematic Report on the Special Rapporteur on Torture. November 2023. Click here to download the contribution.

  • The Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Contribution at the Request of the Advisory Opinion on the Right to Care before the Inter- American Court of Human Rights. October 2023. Click here to download the contribution.

  • The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT): Comments on the draft general comment of the SPT on the article 4 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). In May 2023. Click here to download the contribution.

IMPACTUM and HUMAN RIGHTS in CONTEXT participated in the drafting of the Nijmegen Principles and Guidelines on Interim Measures for the Protection of Human Rights

  • Prof Clara Burbano Herrera and Prof Yves Haeck were part of a group of experts in drafting the “Nijmegen Principles and Guidelines on Interim Measures for the Protection of Human Rights”. Click here to download the Nijmegen Principles.


IMPACTUM team has given presentations before these Human Rights Bodies.

  • The Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Prof Dr Clara Burbano Herrera and Germán Parra (PhD student), Presentation on the Public Hearing on the Advisory Opinion on the Right to Care and its relation with other rights. Inter-American Court of Human Rights, San José (Costa Rica) in person, 14 March 2024. Watch their presentation through the link below.  









  • The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT): Prof Dr Clara Burbano Herrera and Germán Parra (PhD researcher), Presentation on the Day of the Public General Discussion on the SPT draft General Comment on art. 4 of the OPCAT. Conference room of Palais Wilson (UN Geneva) in person in June 2023. Watch their presentation through the link below.

  • The Human Rights Committee Holds a Meeting with drafters of The Nijmegen Principles and Guidelines on Interim Measures for the Protection of Human Rights, including Profs Burbano Herrera and Haeck, 19 July 2022.

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The Interdisciplinary International Advisory Board (IIAB) is composed of scholars, judges, members of international human rights (HRs) bodies, and members of HRs NGOs with diverse backgrounds and experience at the international, regional, and local level. They provide substantive individual and collective guidance throughout the project, and selected board members act (along with the PI) as co-supervisors of the PhD students.

Prof Julissa Mantilla Falcón

Prof Julissa Mantilla Falcón is a Commissioner of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Washington D.C.). She is currently Rapporteur on the Rights of Women and Rapporteur on Memory, Truth, and Justice. Additionally, she is a professor at the Catholic University of Peru (PUCP), where she teaches law and human rights, and at the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the American University's Washington College of Law (USA). Formerly, she was the Rapporteur on the Rights of Older Persons, worked in the Peruvian Ombudspersons Office, oversaw gender issues in the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation in Peru, and served as an international consultant on transitional justice for UN Women. She has a law degree, with a specialization in Human Rights (PUCP), a diploma in Gender Studies (PUCP), and a Master of Laws in International Human Rights Law (London School of Economics and Political Science). 

Prof Dr Manfred Nowak 

Prof Dr Manfred Nowak is the Secretary General of the European Inter-University Center for Human Rights and Democratization (EIUC)/Global Campus, the Scientific Director of the Vienna Master of Applied Human Rights at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, and a Professor of International Human Rights at the University of Vienna (Austria). He is the founder of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights, has taught at various universities in International Law and Human Rights, and was the leading expert on the UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty. Other of his previous roles include the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture (2004 to 2010), the United Nations Expert on Enforced Disappearances (1993 to 2006), the Vice-Chairperson of the Management Board of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in Vienna (2012-2017), and one of eight international judges in the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo (1996 to 2003). He has extensive experience in the fields of constitutional, administrative, and international law, human rights, as well as development studies. He holds a Dr. Habil in Constitutional Law (University of Vienna), a Master of Laws (Colombia University New York), and a Dr. Iuris (University of Vienna). 


Prof Dr Yves Haeck 

Prof Dr Yves Haeck is a Professor of International Human Rights Law at the Faculty of Law and Criminology of Ghent University (Belgium), where he teaches International Human Rights Law, Human Rights in Developing Countries, and International Moot Court Human Rights. Yves Haeck is a co-founder of the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University. Additionally, he is the co-director of the Programme for Studies on Human Rights in Context. He is also a guest professor at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) and the University of Pretoria (South Africa). Prior to this, he was a lecturer at Utrecht University and a guest professor at the University of Malta. His research interests concern the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights, with a comparative focus on the Inter-American System and other regional systems. Yves holds a PhD in Law (Ghent University) and a Master of Law (Ghent University). 

Ms Viviana Krsticevic 

Ms Viviana Krsticevic is the Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). She is also the founder of the Equal Campaign, an initiative to promote parity in international representation, and a member of the international protocol on the investigation of threats against human rights defenders (La Esperanza Protocol). She has litigated over two hundred cases before the Inter-American Commission and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and intervened as amicus curiae before numerous national courts in the Americas and regional human rights tribunals, including the European Court on Human Rights. Moreover, she regularly teaches at the American University Washington School of Law (USA) and Saint Thomas University (USA) on human rights and has done research at the Max Planck Institute on Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg. Her work, through advocacy, litigation, and writing, has been crucial to expanding the standards and the agenda of international human rights law. She has a law degree (University of Buenos Aires), a Master's in Latin American studies (Standford University), and a Master's in Law (Harvard University). 

Prof Dr Eduardo Ferrer Mac-Gregor Poisot 

Prof Dr Eduardo Ferrer Mac-Gregor Poisot is the Vice-President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, a Researcher at the Institute of Legal Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, (UNAM) and Visiting Professor at the Complutense University of Madrid. Previously he has taught and lectured at a wide range of universities in Europe, the United States, and Latin America on topics related to constitutional law, international law, and human rights. He was an Associate Professor at the Panamerican University of Mexico City and the Faculty of Law at the UNAM. He holds a PhD in Law (Universidad de Navarra, Spain), a specialization in Human Rights (Strasbourg, France), and  a Post-Graduate diploma in The Social Dimension of Human Rights (Universidad of the Basque Country, San Sebastián).

Prof Dr Frans Viljoen

Prof Dr Frans Viljoen is the Director of the Centre for Human Rights and a Professor of International Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria (South Africa). He is also editor-in-chief of the African Human Rights Law Journal and co-editor of the English and French versions of the African Human Rights Law Reports. In 2012, the Centre received the Human Rights Prize of the African Union’s Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. His expertise lies in human rights and democracy in Africa, with a focus on the African regional human rights system. He has been involved in advocacy and training on the African regional human rights system and published widely on international human rights law. Furthermore, he is experienced with LGBTI law, discrimination based on sexual orientation, and sexual minority rights in Africa. He holds an LLM from the University of Cambridge and an LLB, MA, and LLD from the University of Pretoria.  

Prof Dr Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque 

Prof Dr Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque is a professor at the Faculty of Law at the Catholic University of Lisbon and a former Judge at the European Court of Human Rights. He was a visiting professor at the University of Illinois School of Law (USA) and the Jia Tong University in Shanghai (China). He has been a judge for the Criminal Court and the Correctional Court of Lisbon, as well as President of the Courts of Nelas, Lagos, and the Criminal Instruction Court of Lisbon. He has also been an expert with the Council of Europe’s GRECO, the Group of States Against Corruption. His focus lies in the fields of criminal law, criminal procedures, public international law, international human rights law, and regulatory offences law. He has a PhD in Law in the area of Legal-Criminal Sciences and a Master in Law in Legal-Criminal Sciences (both from Catholic University Portugal). 

Prof Dr Hélène Tigroudja 

Prof Dr Hélène Tigroudja is a member of the UN Human Rights Committee (since 2019), a Professor of Public and International Law at Aix-Marseille University (France), Co-Director of the Law School’s Master's Program of International Law, and Director of the Summer School on Practice of Human Rights. She regularly acts as an expert for the Council of Europe, the United Nations, the European Union, the International Criminal Court, and National Institutions. She was a Senior Global Fellow at New York University (USA), has taught at various universities in Europe, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, and was a visiting professional at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.  In 2014, she was appointed by The Hague Academy of International Law (The Netherlands) to co-lead the Center for International Research and Studies dedicated to Women’s Rights and Elimination of Discrimination. Her research and teaching encapsulate a wide range, including international law, European law, international human rights law, international criminal law, and international migration law, with a particular focus on the role of the state and the collaboration between regional and universal human rights mechanisms. She has a PhD in International Public Law, a Master's in Public Law and Constitutional Theory, a Master's in International and European Law, and a Master's in Philosophy (all University of Lille, France).  

Prof Dr Johan Vande Lanotte 

Prof Dr Johan Vande Lanotte is a Professor Emeritus of Constitutional Law and Human Rights at Ghent University (Belgium), co-founder of the Human Rights Centre at  the Faculty of Law and Criminology of Ghent University, and a Senior Legal  Counsel  at Van Steenbrugge Advocaten. In addition to being a successful politician for 30 years (1988-2018), including 13 years as Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, Johan has worked on projects related to Belgian constitutional law and international human rights law. He holds a PhD in Law (Ghent University), a Master of Laws (Free University of Brussels), and a Master in Political and Social Sciences (University of Antwerp). 

Prof Dr Par Engstrom 

Prof Dr Par Engstrom is an Associate Professor of Human Rights at the Institute of the Americas at the University College London (UK) and a Visiting Professor at the Paris School of International Affairs at Sciences-Po (France). In addition, he is currently convening the Latin America course for the International Academy at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) (UK), and he is the academic coordinator of an International Network on the Inter-American Human Rights System, initially funded by the Leverhulme Trust (2014-2016). He is internationally recognized as an expert on the Inter-American Human Rights systems and has extensive experience working with the prevention of torture and transitional justice, specifically within Latin America. His previous experiences include being a consultant for the Association for the Prevention of Torture, for the FCDO, and the European Parliament. He has also worked at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. He holds a PhD in International Relations (Oxford University) and a Master in Globalization and Latin American Development (Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London) 

Prof Dr Gentian Zyberi 

Prof Dr Gentian Zyberi is a Professor of International Law and Human Rights at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights. He was previously a member of the UN Human Rights Committee (2019-2022) as well as Head of Department and Head of Education at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights. In addition, he worked for the Defense at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and acted as a legal adviser and coordinator of the Albanian legal team in the Kosovo Declaration of Independence in 2009. He has taught in the fields of international human rights, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law at various universities in Albania, China, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United States. His further interest and expertise lie in the role of international courts and tribunals in developing international human rights law, the protection of community interests in international law, and transitional justice processes. He has a PhD in International Law and a Master of Laws (both from Utrecht University School of Law). 

Prof Dr Tom Daems

Prof Dr Tom Dames is a professor of Criminology at the Leuven Institute of Criminology (LINC), which is part of the Faculty of Law of the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL). At LINC he is the coordinator of the research line focusing on punishment and control, which aims to foster research in the field of penology and prison studies with a comparative perspective within Europe. He was previously a visiting scholar at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Nottingham, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Additionally, he was an Associate Professor at Ghent University. His expertise lies in sociological, legal, and normative questions related to punishment. For his doctoral thesis, he won the Willem Nagel Prize (Dutch Society of Criminology) as well as the Denis Carrol Prize (International Society for Criminology) in 2009. He has a master's degree in advanced studies in European Criminology and a doctorate in Criminology from KUL, and an MSc in Crime, Deviance, and Control from LSE. 

The Ethics Advisor supports our team to carry out research in line with the highest ethical standards and the applicable EU, international, and national law on ethical principles. We are committed to and ensure the respect of important EU values such as respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and human rights.

Dr Ron Iphofen

Ethics Advisor

Dr Ron Iphofen FAcSS is an Independent Research Consultant, and a Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences, the Higher Education Academy, and the Royal Society of Medicine. Since retiring as Director of Postgraduate Studies in Health Sciences at Bangor University, he has advised several agencies within the European Commission, and a range of governmental and independent research institutions, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in Canada, and the National Disability Authority and the Institute of Public Health in Ireland. In addition, he was Vice Chair of the UK Social Research Association and now convenes their Research Ethics Forum. He has also advised several projects of the European Commission, including the RESPECT project, on pan-European standards in the social sciences, and was recently the principal investigator for the PRO-RES Project, an EU-funded project influencing policy on research ethics and scientific integrity across all non-medical sciences.


Dr Iphofen's books include Ethical Decision Making in Social Research: A Practical Guide, Palgrave Macmillan (2009/2011), and the book series Advances in Research Ethics and Integrity Emerald (2017). Furthermore, he co-edited the SAGE Handbook of Ethics in Qualitative Research (2018) with Martin Tolich, and edited the SPRINGER Nature Handbook of Scientific Research and Integrity (2020). He also co-edited three open-access publications for the PRO-RES Project: Ethical Issues in Covert, Security and Surveillance Research, and Emerald Publishing (2022).

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