Human Rights Defenders


Frontline human rights defenders—those seeking to protect and promote the rights of vulnerable and marginalized communities in the face of state or corporate repression—are increasingly under attack around the world. Such attacks can take many forms: attacks on individual defenders and their credibility, security, and even their lives; closure and censure of civil society organizations and closing of civic space to limit freedoms of assembly, expression, and association; orchestrated and coordinated attacks through social media and other technologies to disempower and harass defenders and spread disinformation; and passage of laws and policies that restrict and punish human rights and civil society organizations. Women, indigenous, ethnic minority, and LGBTQ human rights defenders are particularly vulnerable, as are those who advocate for environmental protections.

The Carr Center has had a long history of hosting scholars at risk and human rights defenders, including people from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Hungary, India, Uganda, and Venezuela. Scholars stay for a semester or year at the Center, and are involved in organizing educational programs and events around the pressing concerns facing human rights defenders and the organizations they lead.


News & Publications

As a human rights defender from Hungary, being associated with the Carr Center as a Clements Fellow and then as a Topol Fellow while at the Kennedy School was like winning a prize.... I have also benefited enormously from the Topol seminars with Professor Chenoweth. Her work on nonviolent action will continue to inspire me when I return home.

— Aniko Bakonyi, former Carr Center Fellow