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

How are Human Rights Universal

Citation:

Eric Blumenson. 11/24/2020. “How are Human Rights Universal.” Carr Center Discussion Paper Series, 2020-12. See full text.
How are Human Rights Universal

Abstract:

On the traditional view, human rights are universal because they belong to all human beings as such, solely in virtue of their humanity. In his paper, Blumenson explores the meaning of that claim and considers two reasons some people find it hard to accept. The first is the appeal of relativism. That appeal is all the greater now, when cultural diversity is more present than ever in one’s neighborhood, on television, and across the internet. It’s a short step from identifying differences in cultural values to identifying justice itself as culturally constructed. The second reason for doubt is also a response to the radically diverse ways of life in the world, but a simpler one: a belief that human rights universality is implausible. Even if there are moral universals, one might think them too few or too vague, and the settings of their operation too diverse, to generate anything as specific as human rights.

Read the full paper. 

: Eric Blumenson | Nov 24 2020
: Eric Blumenson describes the conditions, challenges, and skeptics of the notion of "universality" within the human rights domain.
Last updated on 11/24/2020

Money in Politics

Citation:

John Shattuck and Mathias Risse. 11/18/2020. “Money in Politics.” Reimagining Rights and Responsibilities in the United States, 2020-003. See full text.
Money in Politics

Abstract:

As Yogi Berra once said, “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.” Nothing could be truer when it comes to money in American politics. In the 2000 election, candidates and outside groups spent a combined $3 billion on the presidential and congressional races. Not two decades later, in 2016, the amount spent more than doubled to a combined $6.5 billion. For 2020, forecasters project that the total amount spent on political advertising alone will reach $10 billion.

There’s a simple reason for this exponential rise in political expenditures: the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment to preclude the regulation of many aspects of campaign finance. That decision in 1976 first opened the floodgates of contributions to political campaigns.

 

"Nowhere is money felt more than in the explosion of spending by outside groups to elect and influence candidates in the past decade, which have simultaneously increased amounts while decreasing accountability."

 

In this issue of the Reimagining Rights and Responsibilities in the U.S. paper series, the authors outline how the bipartisan use of money in politics undermines the democratic process. 

Read the full report.  

: John Shattuck et al. | Nov 18 2020
: The bipartisan use of money in politics undermines the democratic process. 
Last updated on 11/19/2020

Voting Rights

Citation:

John Shattuck and Mathias Risse. 11/6/2020. Voting Rights. Reimagining Rights and Responsibilities in the United States. 2020002nd ed. Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Read the Report
Voting Rights

Abstract:

After more than a century of expanding the voting rights of previously disenfranchised groups, the American electoral system today is confronted by political and legal maneuvers to curtail the hard-won rights of these same groups, ostensibly in the name of combating fraud and regulating voting, but actually to change the outcome of elections. 

"Political campaigns to suppress or dilute votes corrode democracy, frustrate the popular will, and stimulate polarization."

Attacks on the integrity of the electoral system are not new. Throughout the 19th and much of the 20th century dominant political forces suppressed voting by African Americans and other minorities, women, immigrants, and young people. Manipulation of voting in the 20th century included racist suppression of African American votes, first by Democrats and later by Republicans. These practices are blatant examples of the vulnerability of the electoral process to partisan manipulation and the necessity of reform to safeguard voting rights, especially among these vulnerable groups.

In his timely addition to the Reimagining Rights and Responsibilites in the U.S. paper series, authors John Shattuck, Mathias Risse, and team outline the expansion of the vote through history, the disproportionate impact of voter suppression, and propose a set of policy recommendations accordingly.

Read the full report. 

 

 

: John Shattuck, Mathias Risse | Nov 6 2020
: Political campaigns to suppress or dilute votes corrode democracy, frustrate the popular will, and stimulate polarization.
Last updated on 11/16/2020
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Upcoming Events

2020 Dec 01

North Korea’s Information and Technology: The Inflow of Foreign Content and the Regime’s Countermeasures

4:00pm to 5:00pm

Location: 

Virtual Event (Registration Required)

The North Korean regime has traditionally controlled information production, circulation, and consumption. However, over the years, foreign information and content have continued to trickle into the country. This phenomenon has major social and foreign policy implications. Our panelists will discuss how outside actors are getting content into North Korea, how the regime has responded with countermeasures, what kind of macro and micro impact foreign information consumption has on North Korean society, and why these trends are consequential.

The Belfer Center’s ...

Read more about North Korea’s Information and Technology: The Inflow of Foreign Content and the Regime’s Countermeasures
2020 Dec 03

Social Movements and the Mattering of Black Lives

1:30pm to 2:30pm

Location: 

Virtual Event (Registration Required)

Please join the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy for its signature weekly series this fall, The Fierce Urgency of Now, featuring Black, Indigenous, People of Color scholars, activists, and community leaders, and experts from the Global South. Hosted and facilitated by Sushma Raman and Mathias Risse, the series also aligns with a course they will co-teach this fall at the Harvard Kennedy School on Economic Justice: Theory and Practice. 

Panelists:

  • Megan Ming Francis | Associate Professor,...
Read more about Social Movements and the Mattering of Black Lives

Registration: 

 

“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