Ignacio Martín-Baró Human Rights Essay Competition


The Pozen Center’s annual Ignacio Martín-Baró Human Rights Essay Competition recognizes excellence in writing about human rights, awarding three cash prizes (of $500 each) to current University of Chicago College students for the best essays in the field. Submissions may be analytic or critical essays, empirical research papers, term papers, or personal essays on any human rights issue. Essay topics are not restricted to the field of Latin American studies.

Essays should be 6,250 words or less. Submissions will be judged by the content and clarity of the writing. Only students in the College are eligible for this award.

Read winning essays from previous years.

2020 Essay Competition Winners

Claire Cappaert, AB’21 (Public Policy, Russian and East European Studies)
Re-establishing Human Rights Regimes in Transitional Justice: The Case of Minority Rights in the Former Yugoslavia Post-1993

Katerina Gan, AB’21 (Economics)
Protecting the Right to Privacy: Mass Surveillance in Xinjiang

Cameron Kay, AB’21 (Political Science, Comparative Human Development)
The Space Between Us: The Invisible Costs of Social Distancing


Now accepting submissions for the 2021 Essay Competition. All submissions are due by Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 11:59pm CST.

Submit your essay.

The Ignacio Martín-Baró Human Rights Essay Competition winners are selected by a committee of Pozen Center Faculty Board members. Award announcements are made in mid-May.


The Martín-Baró Endowed Program was established to honor the memory of Ignacio Martín-Baró, who lived a life committed to democracy, social justice, and service to the poor, the silenced, and the dispossessed.

Ignacio Martín-Baró was an ordained Jesuit priest, born in Spain in 1942. Upon joining the Jesuit order Martín-Baró was sent to El Salvador, where he studied psychology. He came to the University of Chicago in 1976 to pursue graduate studies and three years later received his doctorate in Social Psychology.

Upon returning to El Salvador, he found himself in the midst of a violent civil war, which had been ravaging the country for more than a decade. Despite many death threats and brutal acts of repression suffered by colleagues, students, and friends, Father Martín-Baró continued to pursue a brilliant teaching and research career as pastor of a rural parish on the outskirts of San Salvador. 

Martín-Baró taught at the Universidad de Centro America in El Salvador and was a leading scholar on social justice and human rights. In 1989, he and seven others were assassinated by the Salvadoran army for their commitment to El Salvador’s dispossessed. 

Read more about the Ignacio Martín-Baró Program with the Center for Latin American Studies.