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Displaced persons' perceptions of human rights in Southern Sudan


  • C. Pavlish phd, rn,

    Corresponding author
    1. Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA, Professor Emerita, St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN, USA,
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  • A. Ho phd

    1. Assistant Professor, Centre for Applied Ethics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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Dr Carol Pavlish, School of Nursing, University of California, 700 Tiverton Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA; Tel: 310 794-4339; Fax: 310 794-7482; E-mail:


Background:  A human rights framework has become more important in advancing equitable health and development opportunities. However, in post-conflict settings, human rights violations persist. Women and girls are especially vulnerable to discrimination and violence.

Aim:  To deepen understanding about the social context that influences human rights experiences and gender relationships in a post conflict setting.

Methods:  Focus groups and key informant interviews were conducted in an ethnographic study among displaced persons, government officials and community-based organizations in Southern Sudan.

Findings:  Participants defined human rights as the right to good governance, self-determination and participation in society's development, security and equality. Human rights violations included discrimination, insecurity and inadequate health and development opportunities. Education, language and geographic location influenced human rights perspectives. Some social groups were at higher risk for human rights violations.

Conclusions:  Community perspectives on human rights indicated complex connections between obligations, claims, conditions and social relationships. Nurses can create conditions that advance people's human rights and improve their health.