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.
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. 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.”
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”. 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.
The US is a flawed liberal democracy. 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.
Blake’s book conveys a straightforward directive: the foreign policy of liberal states should be guided and constrained by the goal of helping other states to become liberal democracies as well. This much is what we owe to people in other countries—this much but nothing more. The primary addressees are wealthier democracies, whose foreign policy ought to be guided by the idea of equality of all human beings. My approach in On Global Justice bears important similarities to Blake’s, but with those similarities also come equally important differences. The purpose of this piece is to bring out these similarities and differences and in the process articulate some objections to Blake.
Why, despite massive public concern, is child trafficking on the rise? Why are unaccompanied migrant children living on the streets and routinely threatened with deportation to their countries of origin? Why do so many young refugees of war-ravaged and failed states end up warehoused in camps, victimized by the sex trade, or enlisted as child soldiers? This book provides the first comprehensive account of the widespread but neglected global phenomenon of child migration, exploring the complex challenges facing children and adolescents who move to join their families, those who are moved to be exploited, and those who move simply to survive. Spanning several continents and drawing on the stories of young migrants, Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age provides a comprehensive account of the widespread and growing but neglected global phenomenon of child migration and child trafficking. It looks at the often-insurmountable obstacles we place in the paths of adolescents fleeing war, exploitation, or destitution; the contradictory elements in our approach to international adoption; and the limited support we give to young people brutalized as child soldiers. Part history, part in-depth legal and political analysis, this powerful book challenges the prevailing wisdom that widespread protection failures are caused by our lack of awareness of the problems these children face, arguing instead that our societies have a deep-seated ambivalence to migrant children–one we need to address head-on. Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age offers a road map for doing just that, and makes a compelling and courageous case for an international ethics of children’s human rights.
In July 2015, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, otherwise known as FIFA, announced that as a prominent part of its new reforms, it will ‘recognise the provisions of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (‘GPs’)1 and will make it compulsory for both contractual partners and those within the supply chain to comply with these provisions’.
Guest edited by Siddharth Kara, this issue of Social Inclusion focuses on human trafficking and modern slavery. Read the opinion piece by Kara Read the full journal States Kara: "When I first began researching human trafficking and modern forms of slavery fifteen years ago, there was very limited awareness of these offences, and even less scholarship. While non-profit organizations, activists, and charitable foundations have worked assiduously to raise awareness of human trafficking and to tackle root causes, investment by the academic community to analyze the nature, scale, and functioning of the phenomena has been slower to evolve. Indeed, much of the confusion relating to basic terms and concepts on the topic of modern forms of slavery has been due, in large part, to the lack of scholarly analysis of the issues. Following on this gap has been a dearth of robust, first-hand field research that can guide scholarship, investment, and activism, and help frame the complex questions relating to law, economics, human rights, gender, poverty, corruption, migration, the rights of children and minorities, and many other issues that are fundamental to our understanding of human trafficking."
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...
Frederik Obermaier is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and author living in Munich. He is working for - Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany's largest daily newspapers. The Carr Center sat down with Obermaier, a 2018 Neiman Fellow, to discuss his work on the Panama Papers.
Rights are not static things. They don’t stay the same from generation to generation but evolve and change depending on changing norms and circumstances. In a sense, they adapt to history. This is an unpopular notion. Most human rights advocates understandably fear that, if long-fought-for rights are not grounded in the bedrock of such things as natural law or inherent human dignity, they may be subject to disregard or even repeal. As we will argue, rights represent a description of the good society, a society that protects and advances its members’ “lives, liberties, and pursuit of...
Carr Center Senior Fellow Sherman Teichman and Co-Convener Professor Nikos Passas will convene the second semester of their study group, exploring the relationship between corruption and human rights. Download the study group brochure here.
The objective of this study group is to deepen and expand our understanding of the links between...
Faculty members at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy published a series of groundbreaking books in 2017, addressing diverse policy issues from the role of women in Rwanda's post-conflict reconciliation; the prevalence of human trafficking and modern slavery; to making human rights work in the 21st century.
Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy Kathryn Sikkink, ...