The Carr Center released its 2019-2020 Annual Report that highlights its efforts to build a more just, peaceful future amid a year of multiple pandemics—health, economic, and racial.
This past academic year, we’ve seen significant economic anxiety, political uncertainty, and public health failures besiege communities and societies around the world. We’ve also witnessed acts of solidarity and kinship—the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the United States, the rise of social movements holding authoritarian leaders to account, and communities offering mutual aid to vulnerable people impacted by the pandemic.
We are keenly aware of how important human rights are during this time, as well as the need for human rights centers to be both responsive to the current moment, and focused strategically on the horizon. Over the past year, we have focused on building a center that aims to do both, and we’ve created and expanded a number of our programs in doing so. The Carr Center’s Technology and Human Rights program, led by Mathias Risse and Sushma Raman, examines the ethical and rights implications of technological advancements on the human rights framework. Through the program, we’ve been honored to host events like that featuring Ruha Benjamin, author of Race after Technology, who spoke to the concept of viral justice: the impact of the pandemic and policing and associated technologies on Black people. The program has also amplified the work of its inaugural year of Technology and Human Rights Fellows, working on topics such as challenges to privacy in an era of big data, the implications of Facebook’s global Oversight Board on disinformation, and how to tackle content moderation of hate speech.
The Carr Center’s project on Renewing Rights and Responsibilities in the United States, led by Mathias Risse and John Shattuck, finalized its research and policy papers assessing the rollback of rights domestically, and what can be done to renew our collective commitment to equality, liberty, and justice. The report and set of recommendations, along with the results of a nationwide poll and three local townhalls, were released this fall.
At a time when current Black Lives Matter protests are estimated to be the largest recorded in U.S. history, the Nonviolent Action Lab—launched and led by Erica Chenoweth—examines the strategies and tactics of nonviolent social movements to effect change. The lab also hosted its second round of Topol Fellows, a group of five students working on nonviolent solutions to social and political conflict.
In addition to our three core programs, we’ve launched work around the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human rights and on racial justice. Our monthly podcast Justice Matters, weekly newsletter, and social media channels reach thousands of followers around the world, and we’ve hosted large-scale events with leaders such as UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, gun reform advocate Shannon Watts, North Korean refugee Joseph Kim, and Surveillance Capitalism author Shoshana Zuboff.
Our work wouldn’t be possible without the people involved—our staff, faculty, fellows, students, advisory board members, and other donors. We’d particularly like to thank Doug Elmendorf, Dean of the Kennedy School, Vin Ryan, chair emeritus of the Carr Center’s advisory board, and Mike Decker, current chair, each of whom has played a pivotal role in supporting the Carr Center’s strategic growth.