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

The Power of Choosing Not to Build: Justice, Non-Deployment, and the Purpose of AI Optimization

The Power of Choosing Not to Build: Justice, Non-Deployment, and the Purpose of AI Optimization

Abstract:

Are there any types of AI that should never be built in the first place? The “Non-Deployment Argument”—the claim that some forms of AI should never be deployed, or even built—has been subject to significant controversy recently: non-deployment skeptics fear that it will stifle innovation, and argue that the continued deployment and incremental optimization of AI tools will ultimately benefit everyone in society. However, there are good reasons to subject the view that we should always try to build, deploy, and gradually optimize new AI tools to critical scrutiny: in the context of AI, making things better is not always good enough. In specific cases, there are overriding ethical and political reasons—such as the ongoing presence of entrenched structures of social injustice—why we ought not to continue to build, deploy, and optimize particular AI tools for particular tasks. Instead of defaulting to optimization, we have a moral and political duty to critically interrogate and contest the value and purpose of using AI in a given domain in the first place.

Read the paper.

author/date: Annette Zimmermann | Oct 5 2021
teaser text: In the context of AI, making things better is not always good enough. Instead of defaulting to optimization, we have a moral and political duty to critically interrogate and contest the value and purpose of using AI in a given domain in the first place.
Last updated on 10/21/2021

Conflict, Militarization, and Exploitation of Indigenous Land and Resources

Conflict, Militarization, and Exploitation of Indigenous Land and Resources

Abstract:

The 2021 Indigenous Women Convening for Peace, Justice, and Reconciliation Conference brought together Indigenous scholars and female leaders from seven Indigenous socio-cultural zones around the world. Together, they shared stories of war and conflict in their territories and discussed collective ways of ideating Indigenous conflict resolution and peacemaking processes.

The event was organized by the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy; the Committee on Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights; the Scholars at Risk Program; and the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples, Gender, Justice, and Peace. Co-sponsors included the Center for the Study of World Religions; the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; the Harvard College Writing Program; HUNAP; Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative; and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. The event was moderated by Jacqueline Bhabha, FXB Director of Research and Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Shelly Lowe, Executive Director of the Harvard University Native American Program. Opening remarks were provided by Raquel Vega-Duran, Chair of the Committee on Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights, and Sushma Raman, Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.

This publication features the 10 speakers of the conference and their profound statements on the state of human rights and peacemaking in their respective Indigenous zones.

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author/date: Carr Center for Human Rights Policy | 2021
teaser text: Indigenous scholars and leaders from the 2021 Indigenous Women Convening for Peace, Justice, and Reconciliation Conference offered insights on the state of human rights and peacemaking in seven Indigenous socio-cultural zones around the world.
Last updated on 10/13/2021

Human Rights and the Pandemic: The Other Half of the Story

Citation:

Elizabeth M. Renieris. 10/2/2021. “Human Rights and the Pandemic: The Other Half of the Story.” Carr Center Discussion Paper Series. See full text.
Human Rights and the Pandemic: The Other Half of the Story

Abstract:

Human rights are a broad array of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights and freedoms that are universal and inalienable, inherent to the dignity of every human being. The application of human rights to digital technologies has generally focused on individual civil and political rights, such as the freedom of expression and privacy. However, as digital technologies evolve beyond traditional information and communications technologies to increasingly mediate access to everything from healthcare to employment, education, and participation in social and cultural life, an increasingly broad array of human rights are implicated. With humanity more reliant on digital tools and technologies than ever before, the stakes have never been more apparent than during the Covid-19 pandemic. Gripped by the magical potential of digital tools and technologies and the allure of simple solutions to complex governance challenges, governments and key stakeholders have adopted an exceedingly limited view of human rights in relation to these technologies, focusing almost exclusively on a narrow set of civil and political rights while virtually ignoring threats to economic, social, and cultural rights. For those already at the margins, this has exacerbated their digital exclusion. This paper calls for a more expansive view of human rights in relation to technology governance. After contextualizing the role of economic, social, and cultural rights in relation to digital technologies, this paper examines how such rights have been largely absent from the discourse around technologies deployed in the pandemic (“pandemic tech”), as well as the consequences of that omission. The paper then explores how a recalibration of human rights in relation to digital technologies, specifically pandemic tech, could help prevent geopolitical fracturing, reorient the conversation around people rather than technology, and provide a critical backstop against the runaway commercialization that threatens the exercise and enjoyment of fundamental rights by individuals and communities.

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author/date: Elizabeth M. Renieris | Oct 2 2021
teaser text: The pandemic has helped to expose a critical shortcoming in the current discourse around human rights in relation to the digital age: a lack of consideration for economic, social, and cultural rights.
Last updated on 10/03/2021
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Upcoming Events

2021 Oct 26

Digital Weapons: How Cyber Arms Proliferation Threatens Human Rights

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Virtual Event (Registration Required)

Towards Life 3.0: Ethics and Technology in the 21st Century is a talk series organized and facilitated by Dr. Mathias Risse, Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, and Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights, Global Affairs, and Philosophy. Drawing inspiration from the title of Max Tegmark’s book, Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, the series draws upon a range of scholars, technology leaders, and public interest technologists to address the ethical aspects of the long-term impact of artificial intelligence on society and...

Read more about Digital Weapons: How Cyber Arms Proliferation Threatens Human Rights

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2021 Oct 28

Critical Race Theory

4:00pm to 5:00pm

Location: 

Virtual Event (Registration Required)

Please join the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy for one of its signature series this fall, The Fierce Urgency of Now, drawing upon the famous quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., when he said, “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there "is" such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” The fall series will focus on the intersection of racial, economic, and social justice in the United States. Information on how to access the event can...

Read more about Critical Race Theory

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2021 Nov 02

Why We Need AI Ethics with Dr. John Tasioulas

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Virtual Event (Registration Required)

Towards Life 3.0: Ethics and Technology in the 21st Century is a talk series organized and facilitated by Dr. Mathias Risse, Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, and Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights, Global Affairs, and Philosophy. Drawing inspiration from the title of Max Tegmark’s book, Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, the series draws upon a range of scholars, technology leaders, and public interest technologists to address the ethical aspects of the long-term impact of artificial intelligence on society and...

Read more about Why We Need AI Ethics with Dr. John Tasioulas

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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