Closing Civil Society Space

The Carr Center identifies and challenges threats to civil society actors, including restrictions imposed on human rights defenders and activists.

Global Governance - Experts

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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 addresses many...

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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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

Averell Schmidt and Kathryn Sikkink. 11/23/2018. “Partners in Crime: An Empirical Evaluation of the CIA Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program.” Perspectives on Politics, 16, 4, Pp. 1014-1033. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In the years following the attacks of 9/11, the CIA adopted a program involving the capture, extraordinary rendition, secret detention, and harsh interrogation of suspected terrorists in the war on terror. As the details of this program have become public, a heated debate has ensued, focusing narrowly on whether or not this program “worked” by disrupting terror plots and saving American lives. By embracing such a narrow view of the program’s efficacy, this debate has failed to take into account the broader consequences of the CIA program. We move beyond current debates by evaluating the impact of the CIA program on the human rights practices of other states. We show that collaboration in the CIA program is associated with a worsening in the human rights practices of authoritarian countries. This finding illustrates how states learn from and influence one another through covert security cooperation and the importance of democratic institutions in mitigating the adverse consequences of the CIA program. This finding also underscores why a broad perspective is critical when assessing the consequences of counterterrorism policies.

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

Erica Chenoweth and Jeremy Pressman contribute to The Washington Post's monthly series on political crowds in the United States. 

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.

Read the full article. 

Thinking About the World: Philosophy and Sociology. CCDP 2018-005, July 2018
Mathias Risse and John W. Meyer. 7/1/2018. Thinking About the World: Philosophy and Sociology. CCDP 2018-005, July 2018.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.
Human Rights as Membership Rights in the World Society. CCDP 2018-006, October 2018.
Mathias Risse. 10/7/2018. Human Rights as Membership Rights in the World Society. CCDP 2018-006, October 10/7/2018. 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.

Human Rights and Artificial Intelligence: An Urgently Needed Agenda? CCDP 2018-002, April 2018.
Mathias Risse. 4/15/2018. Human Rights and Artificial Intelligence: An Urgently Needed Agenda? CCDP 2018-002, April 4/15/2018. 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
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