This project is inherently socio-legal and multidisciplinary. Thus, the methodology adopted to execute it reflects this imperative. As such, the deployment of more social studies methods, such as the identification and review of relevant government, international organization (e.g. UN), and civil society documents, the review of relevant information in the mass media, and the conduct of interviews with relevant key informants is accompanied by the identification, selection and analysis of a pool of relevant legal sources, such as human rights legislation, cases, and treaties, and other kinds of international agreements.
The deployment of the more social studies methods that were mentioned above is geared toward developing as full and broad an appreciation and understanding of the actual “living” realities of Canadian/Nigerian human rights cooperation as possible. To this and similar ends, key informants are chosen and interviewed (in Canada, Nigeria, and Geneva), from civil society groups, the ranks of government officials (especially foreign service and justice ministry officers and officials of national human rights institutions), judges, and legislators.
The interview sample is selected purposively, rather than randomly. Purposive sampling is preferred here because of the unacceptably high risk, if random sampling is adopted, of missing most of the valuable evidence that is sought. In-depth unstructured interviews are also preferred as they have proven to be significantly better at eliciting frank and honest responses in the context of human rights research, and because they allow the researcher to offer thicker description and analyses of the relevant phenomena. Interviews in Canada are conducted by a mixed team of Canadian/Nigerian researchers, and interviews in Nigeria are similarly conducted by a mixed Canadian/Nigerian team. This maximises the benefits to the research process of the strengths that each partner brings to the project.
Relevant documents produced by all of the relevant institutions were analysed, including UN reports/records/proceedings, reports produced by relevant government departments, NGO reports, records of legislative proceedings (Hansards), etc. In addition, the major newspapers and relevant academic journals were also canvassed and studied. The identified and selected human rights legislation, cases, and treaties, and other kinds of international agreements were analyzed with the three theoretical apparatuses that frame this study of Canadian/Nigerian cooperation (i.e. the constructivist, sovereignty and human rights, and Baxian TREMF theories). These frameworks guided the analysis of the evidence produced through the interview process. Overall, the approach adopted was by collecting all the relevant evidence (whether primary or secondary) and examining their orientation in the light of the relevant theoretical/policy frameworks. Thus, in stage one, every effort was made to collect all the relevant evidence. In stage two, the collected “data” was analyzed systematically against each of the three theoretical/policy frameworks that guided the study, and then draft papers produced. And in stage three, the results were finally “written up” for publication/dissemination in various forms and fora.