About SIM

SIM is the key centre of expertise of human rights research and education at Utrecht University. The Netherlands Institute of Human Rights offers internationally oriented study programmes, conducts interdisciplinary research and organises a range of activities in the field of human rights.


Human rights research is part and parcel of:

Transitional justice, regional human rights mechanisms, human rights protection during and after conflict, and the interplay between human rights and international and EU law are some of our main fields of expertise. View our research projects.


SIM offers human rights courses at the Bachelor level within the Law School and at Utrecht University College. In addition, SIM offers a human rights and conflict and security specializations within the master Public International Law and participates in the Utrecht MA Conflict Studies and Human Rights and the prestigious European MA Human Rights and Democratisation in Venice. Read more about our education.


SIM is an active participant in a number of leading national and international networks in the field of human rights, including the Netherlands Network for Human Rights Research, the Association of Human Rights Institutes, and the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation.


For many years, SIM systematically made human rights materials accessible and searchable online for everyone through its databases. These include the texts of human rights treaties, case-law, general comments and concluding observations of the United Nations human rights institutions. As of 2015, these databases are available through the website of the United Nations.


Established in 1981 as a research support institute for a group of Dutch human rights NGOs, SIM has become integrated into Utrecht University over time. SIM was one of the founders of the Netherlands School of Human Rights Research and is the home of the Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights. Famous human rights researchers have headed SIM since its creation, including Hans Thoolen, Manfred Nowak, Peter Baehr, Cees Flinterman and Jenny Goldschmidt. Antoine Buyse is SIM’s current director.

With a rich tradition and a keen eye for current and future developments in the field of human rights, SIM is a leading academic research institute and the home base of a vibrant, interdisciplinary and international group of researchers, lecturers, and PhD students.

Honorary and Emeritus Professors and Researchers

A number of leading human rights researchers are still actively connected to SIM, either in a honorary or emeritus capacity :