The Carr Center seeks to document and investigate large-scale and systemic corruption as an obstacle to economic justice.

Economic Justice

Economic Justice - Experts

Swanee Hunt

Swanee Hunt

Eleanor Roosevelt Lecturer in Public Policy
Adjunct Faculty, Harvard Kennedy School
Siddharth Kara

Siddharth Kara

Senior Fellow
Adjunct Lecturer on Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School
Timothy Patrick McCarthy

Timothy Patrick McCarthy

Lecturer on History and Literature, Public Policy, and Education
Core Faculty and Director, Culture Change & Social Justice Initiatives
Faculty Convener, Emerging Human Rights Leaders Program & Host and Director, "A.R.T. of Human Rights"

Pippa Norris

Paul. F. McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics
John Ruggie

John Ruggie

Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs

Economic Justice - Videos

Economic Justice - Publications

Mathias Risse. 2014. “"Response to Arneson, de Bres, and Stilz".” Ethics & International Affairs, 28, 4, Pp. 511-522. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Common humanity is one ground of justice. The distinctively human life generates claims, and their form is that of natural rights. However, explorations of how the distinctively human life generates obligations lead only to a rather limited set of rights—basic security and subsistence rights. Inquiries into another nonrelational ground also produce rather limited results. That ground is humanity's collective ownership of the earth. The principle of justice associated with it merely requires an equal opportunity to use natural spaces and resources for the satisfaction of basic needs. In particular, this result is incompatible with any kind of welfarist commitment. The sheer fact that anybody's welfare as suchwould be lowered or raised is not a matter of justice. If people share associations with each other (membership in a state, or being connected by trade, say) we can derive obligations from their shared involvement with these associations. But unless people do indeed share such associations, the obligations that hold among them will be rather limited.

Mathias Risse. 2014. “The Human Right to Water and Common Ownership of the Earth.” Journal of Political Philosophy, Pp. 178-203. Publisher's VersionAbstract

THOUSANDS have lived without love, not one without water,” so W. H. Auden finished his poem “First Things First.” And right he was. Only oxygen is needed more urgently than water at most times. But a key difference that makes water a more immediate subject for theorists of justice is that, for now, oxygen is normally amply available where humans live. Historically, the same was true of water since humans would not settle in places without clean water. Nowadays, however, water treatment plants and delivery infrastructure have vastly extended the regions where humans can live permanently. Population increases have prompted people to settle in locations where access to clean water is precarious.

Mathias Risse. 2014. “Three Images of Trade: On the Place of Trade in a Theory of Global Justice”. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Economic theory teaches us that it is in every country’s own best interest to engage in trade. Trade therefore is a voluntary activity among consenting parties. On this view, considerations of justice have little bearing on trade, and political philosophers concerned with matters of global justice should stay largely silent on trade. According to a very different view that has recently gained some prominence, international trade can only occur before the background of an existing international market reliance practice that is shaped by states. On this view, trade is a shared activity among states, and all participating states have in principle equal claims to the gains from trade. Trade then becomes a central topic for political philosophers concerned with global justice. The authors find fault with both of those views and argue instead for a third view about the role of a trade in a theory of global justice. That view gives pride of place to a (non- Marxian) notion of exploitation, which is developed here in some detail.

Siddharth Kara. 5/6/2014. Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia, Pp. 336. Columbia University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Siddharth Kara's Sex Trafficking has become a critical resource for its revelations into an unconscionable business, and its detailed analysis of the trade's immense economic benefits and human cost. This volume is Kara's second, explosive study of slavery, this time focusing on the deeply entrenched and wholly unjust system of bonded labor.

Drawing on eleven years of research in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, Kara delves into an ancient and ever-evolving mode of slavery that ensnares roughly six out of every ten slaves in the world and generates profits that exceeded $17.6 billion in 2011. In addition to providing a thorough economic, historical, and legal overview of bonded labor, Kara travels to the far reaches of South Asia, from cyclone-wracked southwestern Bangladesh to the Thar desert on the India-Pakistan border, to uncover the brutish realities of such industries as hand-woven-carpet making, tea and rice farming, construction, brick manufacture, and frozen-shrimp production. He describes the violent enslavement of millions of impoverished men, women, and children who toil in the production of numerous products at minimal cost to the global market. He also follows supply chains directly to Western consumers, vividly connecting regional bonded labor practices to the appetites of the world. Kara's pioneering analysis encompasses human trafficking, child labor, and global security, and he concludes with specific initiatives to eliminate the system of bonded labor from South Asia once and for all.

Sharmila Murthy. 2014. “In India, Dying to Go: Why Access to Toilets is a Women’s Rights Issue.” WBUR Cognoscenti. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In May, two young women in rural India left their modest homes in the middle of the night to relieve themselves outside. Like millions in India, their homes had no bathrooms. The next morning, their bodies were found hanging from a mango tree. They had been attacked, gang-raped and strung up by their own scarves. Eighteen months after a gang-rape on a Delhi bus, this incident and others since have galvanized nationwide protests to end violence against women and highlighted caste-related discrimination. The tragic story also underscores the need to talk about another taboo topic: open defecation.

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Economic Justice - News


Study Group: Spring 2018, Metamorphosis - New Rights On The Horizon

January 16, 2018

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...

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Study Group: Confronting Corruption in Defense of Human Rights

January 16, 2018

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...

Read more about Study Group: Confronting Corruption in Defense of Human Rights