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


Corruption in Brazil

January 31, 2019

In the latest episode of Justice Matters, Carr Center's Executive Director Sushma Raman interviews Carr Center Senior Fellow Luis Roberto Barroso on the intersection of human rights and corruption in Brazil.... Read more about Corruption in Brazil

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Latest Publications

Media Coverage Has Blown Anti-Lockdown Protests out of Proportion


Erica Chenoweth, Lara Putnam, Tommy Leung, Jeremy Pressman, and Nathan Perkins. 5/10/2020. “Media Coverage Has Blown Anti-Lockdown Protests out of Proportion.” Vox. See full text.
Media Coverage Has Blown Anti-Lockdown Protests out of Proportion


Erica Chenoweth explains that anti-lockdown protests are smaller than portrayed, but the media is amplifying their message.

In the last few weeks, protests against state lockdowns and social distancing measures have seized national headlines. The wall-to-wall coverage might give the impression that what we’re seeing is a powerful grassroots movement in the making. But research we just conducted on protest attendance and media coverage shows something different: This massive media coverage has in fact been out of proportion.

A comprehensive look at the social distancing protests reveals that they have been small in terms of both the number of participants and locations. As one official in the administration of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) tweeted about a protest in Annapolis on April 20, “There were more media inquiries about this than there were participants.”

Read the full article.


: Erica Chenoweth et al. | May 10 2020
: Erica Chenoweth explains that anti-lockdown protests are smaller than portrayed, but the media is amplifying their message.
Last updated on 05/11/2020

Submission to the Commission on Unalienable Rights


Gerald L. Neuman. 4/30/2020. “Submission to the Commission on Unalienable Rights.” Carr Center Discussion Paper Series, 2020-007. See full text.
Submission to the Commission on Unalienable Rights


The Charter of the Commission on Unalienable Rights includes the objective of proposing “reforms of human rights discourse where it has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.” This mission statement has prompted concern among some observers that the Commission is being asked to redirect U.S. human rights policy in ways that would be self-defeating and would create serious damage to international cooperation for the protection of human rights. In his address, Neuman addresses the claim that there are too many human rights; the protection of diverse sexuality; the equal priority of economic/social rights and civil/political rights; the usefulness of “natural law” at the international level; and the question of privileging freedom of religious conduct over other human rights.

Read the full paper here.

Gerald L. Neuman is the J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law, and the Co-Director of the Human Rights Program at HLS. He teaches human rights, constitutional law, and immigration and nationality law. His current research focuses on international human rights bodies, transnational dimensions of constitutionalism, and rights of foreign nationals. He is the author of Strangers to the Constitution: Immigrants, Borders and Fundamental Law (Princeton 1996), and co-author of the casebook Human Rights (with Louis Henkin et al., Foundation Press).

: Gerald Neuman | Apr 30 2020
: Neuman addresses a myriad of human rights concerns to the Commission on Unalienable Rights.

Smart City Visions and Human Rights: Do They Go Together?


Tina Kempin Reuter. 4/24/2020. “Smart City Visions and Human Rights: Do They Go Together?” Carr Center Discussion Paper Series, 2020-006. See full text.
Smart City Visions and Human Rights: Do They Go Together?


Over half of the world’s population lives in cities today. According to the latest predictions, more than two thirds of all people will inhabit an urban environment by 2050. The number and size of cities has increased over the last decades, with the highest projections for future growth in the Global South. As cities continue to expand, so does their impact on policy generation, as political players, as drivers of states’ economies, and as hubs for social innovation and cultural exchange. Cities are important actors on the national and international stage, with mayors’ conferences, city grassroots organizations, and urban citizens driving the search for today’s most pressing problems, including climate change, inequity, migration, and human rights concerns. Many have expressed hope that “cities [will] deliver where nation states have failed.” Organizing this ever-growing, dynamic human space, enabling people from diverse backgrounds to live together, addressing the spatial and social challenges of urban life, and delivering services to inhabitants are challenges that cities have struggled with and that continue to dominate the urban policy agenda.

Read full text here. 

: Tina Kempin Reuter | April 24 2020
: Smart city solutions promise to solve a fundamental challenge of cities: how to foster economic growth and decrease costs while increasing resilience, sustainability, service production, participation, and quality of life.
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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