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

From Rationality to Relationality: Ubuntu as an Ethical and Human Rights Framework for Artificial Intelligence Governance

From Rationality to Relationality: Ubuntu as an Ethical and Human Rights Framework for Artificial Intelligence Governance

Abstract:

What is the measure of personhood and what does it mean for machines to exhibit human-like qualities and abilities? Furthermore, what are the human rights, economic, social, and political implications of using machines that are designed to reproduce human behavior and decision making? The question of personhood is one of the most fundamental questions in philosophy and it is at the core of the questions, and the quest, for an artificial or mechanical personhood. 

The development of artificial intelligence has depended on the traditional Western view of personhood as rationality. However, the traditional view of rationality as the essence of personhood, designating how humans, and now machines, should model and approach the world, has always been marked by contradictions, exclusions, and inequality. It has shaped Western economic structures (capitalism’s free markets built on colonialism’s forced markets), political structures (modernity’s individualism imposed through coloniality), and discriminatory social hierarchies (racism and sexism as institutions embedded in enlightenment-era rationalized social and gender exclusions from full person status and economic, political, and social participation), which in turn shape the data, creation, and function of artificial intelligence. It is therefore unsurprising that the artificial intelligence industry reproduces these dehumanizations. Furthermore, the perceived rationality of machines obscures machine learning’s uncritical imitation of discriminatory patterns within its input data, and minimizes the role systematic inequalities play in harmful artificial intelligence outcomes.

Read the full paper.

: Sabelo Mhlambi | July 8 2020
: Tech Fellow Sabelo Mhlambi explores how the Sub-Saharan African philosophy of ubuntu reconciles ethical limitations of artificial intelligence.
Last updated on 08/04/2020

You Purged Racists From Your Website? Great, Now Get to Work

You Purged Racists From Your Website? Great, Now Get to Work

Abstract:

Joan Donovan explains that the covid-19 infodemic has taught social media giants an important lesson: they must take action to control the content on their sites. 

For those who follow the politics of platforms, Monday’s great expulsion of malicious content creators was better late than never. For far too long, a very small contingent of extremely hateful content creators have used Silicon Valley’s love of the First Amendment to control the narrative on commercial content moderation. By labeling every effort to control their speech as “censorship,” these individuals and groups managed to create cover for their use of death threats, harassment, and other incitements to violence to silence opposition. For a long time, it has worked. Until now. In what looks like a coordinated purge by Twitch, Reddit, and YouTube, the reckoning is here for those who use racism and misogyny to gain attention and make money on social media.

Read the full article.

: Joan Donovan | July 1 2020
: Joan Donovan explains that the covid-19 infodemic has taught social media giants an important lesson: they must take action to control the content on their sites. 
Last updated on 08/04/2020

The Future of Nonviolent Resistance

Citation:

Erica Chenoweth. 7/2020. “The Future of Nonviolent Resistance.” Journal of Democracy , 31, 3, Pp. 69-84. See full text.
The Future of Nonviolent Resistance

Full Text

Erica Chenoweth examines the recent decline of civil-resistance campaigns and argues recent setbacks, like the pandemic, have served as a much-needed reset for movements around the world.

Over the past fifty years, nonviolent civil resistance has overtaken armed struggle as the most common form of mobilization used by revolutionary movements. Yet even as civil resistance reached a new peak of popularity during the 2010s, its effectiveness had begun to decline—even before the covid-19 pandemic brought mass demonstrations to a temporary halt in early 2020. This essay argues that the decreased success of nonviolent civil resistance was due not only to savvier state responses, but also to changes in the structure and capabilities of civil-resistance movements themselves. Perhaps counterintuitively, the coronavirus pandemic may have helped to address some of these underlying problems by driving movements to turn their focus back to relationship-building, grassroots organizing, strategy, and planning.

: Erica Chenoweth | July 2020
: Erica Chenoweth examines the recent decline of civil-resistance campaigns and argues recent setbacks, like the pandemic, have served as a much-needed reset for movements around the world.
Last updated on 07/31/2020
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Upcoming Events

2020 Oct 08

Reimagining Rights and Responsibilities in the U.S.

10:00am to 12:00pm

Location: 

Virtual Event (Registration Required)

Please join the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy for the release of our report on Reimagining Rights and Responsibilities in the United States. We'll discuss the historical context in which this project was framed, recent developments around rollbacks and movements for expansion of rights, and policy recommendations for building a more robust commitment to rights and responsibilities around six broad areas, including equal protection and due process.  We'll also discuss results from our public opinion poll and townhalls across the United States, conducted with support from the...

Read more about Reimagining Rights and Responsibilities in the U.S.

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2020 Oct 15

Surveillance Capitalism

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:

  • Chinmayi Arun | Assistant Professor of Law,...
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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
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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