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.

 

News and Announcements

Salil Shetty

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s eighth secretary-general, to join Carr Center as Senior Fellow

July 6, 2018

Cambridge, MA—Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) announced today that Salil Shetty, the outgoing secretary-general of Amnesty International, will join the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy as a senior fellow for the 2018-2019 academic year.

 

Shetty will be stepping down from Amnesty...

Read more about Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s eighth secretary-general, to join Carr Center as Senior Fellow
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Latest Publications

The Future is a Moving Target: Predicting Political Instability

Citation:

Drew Bowlsby, Erica Chenoweth, Cullen Hendrix, and Jonathan D. Moyer. 2/20/2019. “The Future is a Moving Target: Predicting Political Instability.” British Journal of Political Science. See full text.
The Future is a Moving Target: Predicting Political Instability

Abstract:

Journal article on: The Future is a Moving Target: Predicting Political Instability

Previous research by Goldstone et al. (2010) generated a highly accurate predictive model of state-level political instability. Notably, this model identifies political institutions – and partial democracy with factionalism, specifically – as the most compelling factors explaining when and where instability events are likely to occur. This article reassesses the model’s explanatory power and makes three related points: (1) the model’s predictive power varies substantially over time; (2) its predictive power peaked in the period used for out-of-sample validation (1995–2004) in the original study and (3) the model performs relatively poorly in the more recent period. The authors find that this decline is not simply due to the Arab Uprisings, instability events that occurred in autocracies. Similar issues are found with attempts to predict nonviolent uprisings (Chenoweth and Ulfelder 2017) and armed conflict onset and continuation (Hegre et al. 2013). These results inform two conclusions: (1) the drivers of instability are not constant over time and (2) care must be exercised in interpreting prediction exercises as evidence in favor or dispositive of theoretical mechanisms.

Notes:

Bowlsby, D., Chenoweth, E., Hendrix, C., & Moyer, J. (n.d.). The Future is a Moving Target: Predicting Political Instability. British Journal of Political Science, 1-13. doi:10.1017/S0007123418000443
: Erica Chenoweth et al. | Feb 20 2019
: Reassessing a predictive model of state-level political instability.
Last updated on 02/10/2020

Human Rights, Artificial Intelligence and Heideggerian Technoskepticism: The Long (Worrisome?) View

Citation:

Mathias Risse. 2/12/2019. Human Rights, Artificial Intelligence and Heideggerian Technoskepticism: The Long (Worrisome?) View. Carr Center Discussion Paper Series. 2019002nd ed. Cambridge: Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. See full text.
Human Rights, Artificial Intelligence and Heideggerian Technoskepticism: The Long (Worrisome?) View

Abstract:

Mathias Risse's explores the impact of artificial intelligence on human rights in his latest discussion paper. 

My concern is with the impact of Artificial Intelligence on human rights. I first identify two presumptions about ethics-and-AI we should make only with appropriate qualifications. These presumptions are that (a) for the time being investigating the impact of AI, especially in the human-rights domain, is a matter of investigating impact of certain tools, and that (b) the crucial danger is that some such tools – the artificially intelligent ones – might eventually become like their creators and conceivably turn against them.  We turn to Heidegger’s influential philosophy of technology to argue these presumptions require qualifications of a sort that should inform our discussion of AI. Next I argue that one major challenge is how human rights will prevail in an era that quite possibly is shaped by an enormous increase in economic inequality. Currently the human-rights movement is rather unprepared to deal with the resulting challenges. What is needed is greater focus on social justice/distributive justice, both domestically and globally, to make sure societies do not fall apart. I also ague that, in the long run, we must be prepared to deal with more types of moral status than we currently do and that quite plausibly some machines will have some type of moral status, which may or may not fall short of the moral status of human beings (a point also emerging from the Heidegger discussion). Machines may have to be integrated into human social and political lives.

: Mathias Risse | Feb 2 2019
: Risse discusses the impact of AI on human rights.
Last updated on 02/10/2020

The Social Construction of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. CCDP 2019-001, February 2019.

The Social Construction of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. CCDP 2019-001, February 2019.

Abstract:

 

The Social Construction of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by John Ruggie: 

 

The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) unanimously endorsed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (Guiding Principles) in June 2011. To date, they constitute the only official guidance the HRC and its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights, have issued for states and business enterprises in relation to business and human rights. And it was the first time that either body had “endorsed” a normative text on any subject that governments did not negotiate themselves. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, describes the Guiding Principles as “the global authoritative standard, providing a blueprint for the steps all states and businesses should take to uphold human rights.” According to Arvind Ganesan, who directs business and human rights at Human Rights Watch, as recently as the late 1990s “there was no recognition that companies had human rights responsibilities.” Needless to say, many factors contributed to this shift, particularly escalating pressure from civil society and adversely affected populations. But in terms of putting a global standard in place, The Economist Intelligence Unit has judged HRC endorsement of the Guiding Principles to be the “watershed event.”

: John Ruggie | Feb 10 2019
: Ruggie examines the role of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for states and business enterprises.
Last updated on 02/10/2020
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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