About SIM

The Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) is the key centre of expertise of human rights research and education at Utrecht University. 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.

SIM conducts interdisciplinary research, offers internationally oriented study programmes, and organises a range of activities in the field of human rights .

SIM is part 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 Global Campus of Human Rights.


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. For many years, SIM’s human rights databases contributed to making human rights materials accessible and searchable online for everyone. 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.

SIM was one of the founders of the Netherlands Network for Human Rights Research and is the home of the international academic journal 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.

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 :