While human history is replete with examples of repression and the struggle against it, it wasn’t until 1948 that the world came together to declare in one voice the sanctity of each individual’s dignity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a triumph of the post-war period, and while the world is by most measures a far better place today than in 1948, the declaration’s adoption was not the end of the fight for...
Carr Center's Kathryn Sikkink gave the Plenary address at the 2016 American Political Science Association's Annual Meeting. Her talk, "Are We Making Progress in Human Rights? Transformations in Knowledge and Activism,” drew on material from her forthcoming book Making Human Rights Work: Evidence for Hope.
Said Sikkink, "recently there has been a surge of pessimism about the...
In a new feature story in the Harvard Kennedy School Magazine, Kathryn Sikkink's work on documenting human rights violations is examined in depth.
"Sikkink, the Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy, has devoted her career to addressing that question and the one that follows from it: How can human rights abuses be prevented? Over the past 40 years, she has tracked an evolving, relatively new norm she calls the “justice cascade,” which has increased accountability for human rights offenders, a recent example being the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan...
The Carr Center is pleased to announce our Fellows for the upcoming academic year. Carr Center Fellowships offer scholars and practitioners the opportunity to spend a semester or year at Harvard conducting research, sharing experiences with students, and exploring critical human rights issues with a distinguished group of peers. Our fellows come with a range of experience as researchers, practitioners and leaders in the filed of human rights.
In United States Law and Policy on Transitional Justice: Principles, Politics, and Pragmatics, Zachary D. Kaufman, J.D., Ph.D., explores the U.S. government’s support for, or opposition to, certain transitional justice institutions.
By first presenting an overview of possible responses to atrocities (such as war crimes tribunals) and then analyzing six historical case studies, Dr. Kaufman evaluates why and how the United States has pursued particular transitional justice options since World War II. This book challenges the “legalist” paradigm, which postulates that liberal states pursue war crimes tribunals because their decision-makers hold a principled commitment to the rule of law. Dr. Kaufman develops an alternative theory—“prudentialism”—which contends that any state (liberal or illiberal) may support bona fide war crimes tribunals. More generally, prudentialism proposes that states pursue transitional justice options, not out of strict adherence to certain principles, but as a result of a case-specific balancing of politics, pragmatics, and normative beliefs. Dr. Kaufman tests these two competing theories through the U.S. experience in six contexts: Germany and Japan after World War II, the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, the 1990-1991 Iraqi offenses against Kuwaitis, the atrocities in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Dr. Kaufman demonstrates that political and pragmatic factors featured as or more prominently in U.S. transitional justice policy than did U.S. government officials’ normative beliefs. Dr. Kaufman thus concludes that, at least for the United States, prudentialism is superior to legalism as an explanatory theory in transitional justice policymaking.
This working paper focuses on the legal protection awarded to the Arab populations under Israeli jurisdiction.
In analyzing their legal protection, the author distinguishes between Arab Israelis and other Arab populations resident in territories under Israeli jurisdiction. The author does not deal with Israeli settlements or other discriminating laws such as marriage laws and the family reunification laws, but focuses on anti-terrorism measures. The working paper is divided in three parts: in the first part, the author discusses Israel’s domestic obligations towards Arab Israelis and Palestinian residents, and their de facto discrimination. The second part discusses the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to both the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Palestinian unlawful combatants. The third part discusses the applicability of human rights law to all territories under Israeli jurisdiction, and delves into the issue of the mutual relationship between the two international legal regimes in the territories under occupation. The working paper concludes that many Israeli anti-terrorism measures (such as check-points, night searches of Palestinian households, administrative detentions and targeted executions of Palestinian militants) violate individuals’ rights protected under domestic and international law. Moreover, this working paper finds that Israel’s rationale underpinning the non-applicability of such legislation to the Arab populations under its jurisdiction constitutes a form of ‘alternative legality’ and discrimination.
In the context of Israel’s declared permanent state of exception, this article focuses on the legal protection awarded to the Palestinian populations under Israeli control.
To broaden the discussion over Palestinian people’s rights, which generally focuses on the confiscation of land and the right to return, the author consciously focuses on anti-terrorism and security measures, which contribute to the creation of what the International Court of Justice has defined as an ‘associated regime’ of occupation. The article is divided into three parts. In the first part, the author discusses Israel’s domestic obligations towards Palestinians (arguing the case of both Palestinian citizens of Israel, and Palestinian residents) and their de jure and de facto discrimination. The second part discusses the applicability of humanitarian law, specifically the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention. This section discusses the applicability of the Convention to both territories and people under Israeli control. The third part discusses the applicability of international human rights law to all territories under Israeli control and delves into the issue of the mutual relationship between the two international legal regimes in the territories under occupation. The article posits that Israel’s rationale for the non-applicability of such legislation to the Palestinian territories and populations it controls constitutes a form of ‘alternative legality’. The article concludes that Israel’s disproportionate application of security practices and anti-terrorism measures to the Palestinian segment of its population violates Palestinian rights protected under Israel’s domestic and international legal obligations.