Research ethics review is foundational to protecting the rights of research participants, particularly vulnerable populations (e.g., members of socially/economically marginalized groups, people who do not speak the dominant language, illiterate/semi-literate people, pregnant women, prisoners). Internationally, the review of human subjects research is influenced by shared ethical codes such as the Belmont Report and the Declaration of Helsinki, but national and institutional contexts also frame research ethics review. Rwanda’s in-country human subjects review processes are situated within a context that includes factors such as the historical impacts of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi1 ; rapid urbanization; youth population growth; and a post-genocide political culture emphasizing economic development, security, public image, and human rights reform. Within this complex context—which some have argued is characterized by authoritarianism (Burnet, 2008), increasing government standardization (Van Hoyweghen, 1999), and intense national pride (Melvin, 2012) —researcher-generated documents play an important role in navigating Rwanda’s in-country human subjects review.

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