Arts, Culture & Justice

The Carr Center explores and promotes the use of arts and culture to explore some of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. We work in collaboration with the American Repertory Theater to host public conversations on these issues with artists, academics and activists, a program called The A.R.T. of Human Rights.

Building on the Carr Center’s commitment to advancing human rights principles, and the A.R.T.’s mission to “expand the boundaries of theater,” The A.R.T. of Human Rights is designed to foster a new model for community education, civic engagement, and creative expression. The A.R.T. of Human Rights is directed and hosted by Timothy McCarthy.

Arts, Culture & Justice - Experts

Global Governance - Experts

Arthur Applbaum

Arthur Applbaum

Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values
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Global Governance - News

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Kennedy School Hosts Discussion Honoring 70th Anniversary of Human Rights Declaration

October 11, 2018

The Kennedy School held a discussion featuring University of Virginia Professor James B. Loeffler ’96 Wednesday in honor of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Declaration, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, articulates legal and moral principles for “fundamental human rights to be universally protected.” While legally non-binding, the document has been frequently cited as a basis for international agreements and domestic laws.

Wednesday’s discussion —...

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Mathias Risse, Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Philosophy and Public Administration, named Faculty Director of Carr Center for Human Rights Policy

October 9, 2018

 

Cambridge, MA—Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) announced that Mathias Risse, the Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Philosophy and Public Administration, will serve as the Faculty Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.

Risse’s work and research is focused on the intersection of philosophy and public policy. His research...

Read more about Mathias Risse, Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Philosophy and Public Administration, named Faculty Director of Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
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Harvard Votes Challenge

September 17, 2018

The Harvard Votes Challenge is a nonpartisan, university-wide effort that is challenging Harvard schools to do their part to increase voter registration and participation among eligible students. 

JOIN THE CHALLENGE

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In a strong democracy, citizens participate in political processes, and as a school for public leaders, we should not just encourage that participation, we should model it. This is why the Harvard Kennedy School is...

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Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s eighth secretary-general, to join Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy as senior fellow in 2018-2019

July 6, 2018

Cambridge, MA—Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) announced today that Salil Shetty, the outgoing secretary-general of Amnesty International, will join the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy as a senior fellow for the 2018-2019 academic year.

 

Shetty will be stepping down from Amnesty...

Read more about Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s eighth secretary-general, to join Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy as senior fellow in 2018-2019
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Global Governance - Publications

Erica Chenoweth. 10/19/2018. “In July, the Trump-era wave of protests started taking a back seat to campaign rallies.” The Washington Post. Publisher's VersionAbstract

For 18 months now, as we’ve counted attendance at political gatherings around the United States, we’ve seen crowds in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For the first time since President Trump’s inauguration, we found one state with no political gatherings. In all, in July, we tallied 743 protests, demonstrations, strikes, marches, sit-ins, rallies and walkouts in all states and the District — except South Dakota.

Our conservative guess is that between 71,502 and 73,483 people showed up at these political events, although more probably showed up, as well. This number is the lowest in one month that we’ve seen since December 2017. This year, January, March and June included some of the highest protest numbers in U.S. history, and June featured unusually high attendance because of LGBTQ Pride, Families Belong Together (which protested the policy that separated migrant families at the border), and the Poor People’s Campaign, among others.

Mathias Risse and John W. Meyer. 2018. “Thinking About the World: Philosophy and Sociology”.Abstract
In recent decades the world has grown together in ways in which it had never before. This integration is linked to a greatly expanded public and collective awareness of global integration and interdependence. Academics across the social sciences and humanities have reacted to the expanded realities and perceptions, trying to make sense of the world within the confines of their disciplines. In sociology, since the 1970s, notions of the world as a society have become more and more prominent. John Meyer, among others, has put forward, theoretically and empirically, a general world-society approach. In philosophy, much more recently, Mathias Risse has proposed the grounds-of-justice approach. Although one is social-scientific and the other philosophical, Meyer’s world society approach and Risse’s grounds-of-justice approach have much in common. This essay brings these two approaches into one conversation.
Mathias Risse. 10/7/2018. “Human Rights as Membership Rights in the World Society”.Abstract

The idea of human rights has come a long way. Even hard-nosed international-relations realists should recognize that the idea has become so widely accepted that nowadays it arguably has an impact. Many countries have made human rights goals part of their foreign policy. International civil society is populated by well-funded and outspoken human rights organizations. We have recently witnessed the creation of an entirely new institution, the International Criminal Court, as well as the acceptance, at the UN level, of guiding principles to formulate human rights obligations of businesses. Around the world, more and more local concerns are formulated in the language of human rights, a phenomenon known as the vernacularization, or localization, of human rights. Ordinary people increasingly express concerns in terms of human rights rather than a language that earlier might have come more natural to them. They are not just helping themselves to a legal and political machinery. They also make clear that they are articulating concerns others have in similar ways where they live.

Mathias Risse. 4/15/2018. Human Rights and Artificial Intelligence: An Urgently Needed Agenda. Carr Center for Human Rights. Harvard Kennedy School.Abstract
Artificial intelligence generates challenges for human rights. Inviolability of human life is the central idea behind human rights, an underlying implicit assumption being the hierarchical superiority of humankind to other forms of life meriting less protection. These basic assumptions are questioned through the anticipated arrival of entities that are not alive in familiar ways but nonetheless are sentient and intellectually and perhaps eventually morally superior to humans. To be sure, this scenario may never come to pass and in any event lies in a part of the future beyond current grasp. But it is urgent to get this matter on the agenda. Threats posed by technology to other areas of human rights are already with us. My goal here is to survey these challenges in a way that distinguishes short-, medium-term and long-term perspectives
Trump's First Year: How Resilient is Liberal Democracy in the US?
John Shattuck, Amanda Watson, and Matthew McDole. 2/15/2018. Trump's First Year: How Resilient is Liberal Democracy in the US?. Carr Center for Human Rights Policy . Cambridge, MA: Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This paper by Ambassador John Shattuck, Amanda Watson and Matthew McDole examines the resilience of liberal democracy and democratic institutions in the US after one year of the Trump administration. 


SUMMARY
 

In its 2016 “Democracy Index” report, the Economist Intelligence Unit downgraded the United States from a “full” to a “flawed democracy”. The report cited “an erosion of trust in political institutions” as the primary reason for the downgrade.[1] In January 2018 Freedom House offered an equally dire assessment: “democratic institutions in the US have suffered erosion, as reflected in partisan manipulation of the electoral process . . . and growing disparities in wealth, economic opportunity and political influence.”[2]

Declining levels of political participation and public confidence in government in the US are not new, but the populist forces that propelled the election of Donald Trump in 2016 signaled a new level of public disillusionment with democratic politics as usual. There has been a sharp increase in public discontent with the system of governance in the US over the last fifteen years. An October 2017 Washington Post/University of Maryland poll found that 71% of Americans believe that political polarization and democratic dysfunction have reached “a dangerous low point”.[3] Three years earlier, in 2014, a Gallup Poll showed that 65% of Americans were “dissatisfied with their system of government and how it works,” a dramatic reversal from 68% satisfaction twelve years earlier in 2002.[4]

The US is a flawed liberal democracy.[5] In theory, liberal democracy is the antithesis of authoritarianism. Its ingredients include free and fair elections, freedom of speech and media freedom, an independent judiciary, minority rights and civil liberties, a diverse civil society, the rule of law and a system of checks and balances against concentrations of power. The institutions and elements of liberal democracy are designed to be a bulwark against tyranny by both the executive and the majority.

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Global Governance - Videos