The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy serves as the hub of the Harvard Kennedy School’s research, teaching, and training in the human rights domain. The center embraces a dual mission: to educate students and the next generation of leaders from around the world in human rights policy and practice; and to convene and provide policy-relevant knowledge to international organizations, governments, policymakers, and businesses.

 

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Latest Publications

Civil Action and the Dynamics of Violence

Citation:

Erica Chenoweth, Deborah Avant, Marie Berry, Rachel Epstein, Cullen Hendrix, Oliver Kaplan, and Timothy Sisk. 9/25/2019. Civil Action and the Dynamics of Violence, Pp. 320. Oxford University Press. See full text.
Civil Action and the Dynamics of Violence

Abstract:

This comprehensive study introduces scholars and practitioners to the concept of civil action. It locates civil action within the wider spectrum of behavior in the midst of civil conflict and war, and showcases empirical findings about the effects of civil action in nine cases from around the world. It explains the ways in which non-violent actions during civil war affect the dynamics of violence.

Many view civil wars as violent contests between armed combatants. But history shows that community groups, businesses, NGOs, local governments, and even armed groups can respond to war by engaging in civil action. Characterized by a reluctance to resort to violence and a willingness to show enough respect to engage with others, civil action can slow, delay, or prevent violent escalations. This volume explores how people in conflict environments engage in civil action, and the ways such action has affected violence dynamics in Syria, Peru, Kenya, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Spain, and Colombia. These cases highlight the critical and often neglected role that civil action plays in conflicts around the world.

: Erica Chenoweth et al. | Sept 25 2019
: Explore how people in conflict environments engage in civil action, and the ways such action has affected violence dynamics in nine countries around the world.
Last updated on 02/03/2020

The Physics of Dissent and the Effects of Movement Momentum

Citation:

Erica Chenoweth and Margherita Belgioioso. 8/5/2019. “The Physics of Dissent and the Effects of Movement Momentum.” Nature Human Behaviour. See full text.
The Physics of Dissent and the Effects of Movement Momentum

Abstract:

How do ‘people power’ movements succeed when modest proportions of the population participate?

Here we propose that the effects of social movements increase as they gain momentum. We approximate a simple law drawn from physics: momentum equals mass times velocity (p = mv). We propose that the momentum of dissent is a product of participation (mass) and the number of protest events in a week (velocity). We test this simple physical proposition against panel data on the potential effects of movement momentum on irregular leader exit in African countries between 1990 and 2014, using a variety of estimation techniques. Our findings show that social movements potentially compensate for relatively modest popular support by concentrating their activities in time, thus increasing their disruptive capacity. Notably, these findings also provide a straightforward way for dissidents to easily quantify their coercive potential by assessing their participation rates and increased concentration of their activities over time.

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: Erica Chenoweth et al. | Aug 5 2019
: How do ‘people power’ movements succeed when modest proportions of the population participate?
Last updated on 02/11/2020

Trump wants to “detect mass shooters before they strike.” It won’t work.

Trump wants to “detect mass shooters before they strike.” It won’t work.

Abstract:

New article on Vox highlights the work of Desmond Patton, Technology and Human Rights Fellow.

Desmond Patton, a Technology and AI fellow at the Carr Center, emphasized that current AI tools tend to identify the language of African American and Latinx people as gang-involved or otherwise threatening, but consistently miss the posts of white mass murderers.

"I think technology is a tool, not the tool," said Patton. "Often we use it as an escape so as to not address critical solutions that need to come through policy. We have to pair tech with gun reform. Any effort that suggests we need to do them separately, I don’t think that would be a successful effort at all.”

Read the full article here

: Desmond Patton | Aug 7 2019
: New article on Vox highlights the work of Desmond Patton, Technology and Human Rights Fellow.
Last updated on 01/30/2020
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“The Carr Center is building a bridge between ideas on human rights and the practice on the ground. Right now we are at a critical juncture. The pace of technological change and the rise of authoritarian governments are both examples of serious challenges to the flourishing of individual rights. It’s crucial that Harvard and the Kennedy School continue to be a major influence in keeping human rights ideals alive. The Carr Center is a focal point for this important task.”

 

- Mathias Risse