Human Security


The Carr Center conducts research on migration, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Our analysis focuses on the human rights of those fleeing conflict and instability.


The Carr Center seeks to draw attention to acts of mass atrocity and genocide, analyzing strategies and tools to better prevent and respond to these massive violations of human rights.

Political Prisoners

The Carr Center investigates the detention of citizens on political grounds, their arbitrary detention and violations of their fundamental human rights.

2016 Sep 22

Book Talk: 'Rape During Civil War'

4:00pm to 6:00pm


124 Mt Auburn St, Suite 200 North

Join us for a book talk with Dara Kay Cohen, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School as she presents findings from her recently published work Rape During Civil War.


Dara Kay Cohen, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, Author of Rape During Civil War

Elisabeth Wood, Professor of Political Science & International and Area Studies,...

Read more about Book Talk: 'Rape During Civil War'
Mathias Risse. 2014. “The Human Right to Water and Common Ownership of the Earth.” Journal of Political Philosophy, Pp. 178-203. Publisher's VersionAbstract

THOUSANDS have lived without love, not one without water,” so W. H. Auden finished his poem “First Things First.” And right he was. Only oxygen is needed more urgently than water at most times. But a key difference that makes water a more immediate subject for theorists of justice is that, for now, oxygen is normally amply available where humans live. Historically, the same was true of water since humans would not settle in places without clean water. Nowadays, however, water treatment plants and delivery infrastructure have vastly extended the regions where humans can live permanently. Population increases have prompted people to settle in locations where access to clean water is precarious.

2015. “Perspectives on Human Trafficking and Modern Forms of Slavery” 3 (1).Abstract

Guest edited by Siddharth Kara, this issue of Social Inclusion focuses on human trafficking and modern slavery. Read the opinion piece by Kara Read the full journal States Kara: "When I first began researching human trafficking and modern forms of slavery fifteen years ago, there was very limited awareness of these offences, and even less scholarship. While non-profit organizations, activists, and charitable foundations have worked assiduously to raise awareness of human trafficking and to tackle root causes, investment by the academic community to analyze the nature, scale, and functioning of the phenomena has been slower to evolve. Indeed, much of the confusion relating to basic terms and concepts on the topic of modern forms of slavery has been due, in large part, to the lack of scholarly analysis of the issues. Following on this gap has been a dearth of robust, first-hand field research that can guide scholarship, investment, and activism, and help frame the complex questions relating to law, economics, human rights, gender, poverty, corruption, migration, the rights of children and minorities, and many other issues that are fundamental to our understanding of human trafficking."

Jia Xue. 2016. “Rape Myths and the Cross-Cultural Adaptation of the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale in China.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The study examines the similarities and differences between China and the United States with regard to rape myths. We assessed the individual level of rape myth acceptance among Chinese university students by adapting and translating a widely used measure of rape myth endorsement in the United States, the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance (IRMA) scale. We assessed whether the IRMA scale would be an appropriate assessment of attitudes toward rape among young adults in China. The sample consisted of 975 Chinese university students enrolled in seven Chinese universities. We used explorative factor analysis to examine the factor structure of the Chinese translation of the IRMA scale. Results suggest that the IRMA scale requires some modification to be employed with young adults in China. Our analyses indicate that 20 items should be deleted, and a five-factor model is generated. We discuss relevant similarities and differences in the factor structure and item loadings between the Chinese Rape Myth Acceptance (CRMA) and the IRMA scales. A revised version of the IRMA, the CRMA, can be used as a resource in rape prevention services and rape victim support services. Future research in China that employs CRMA will allow researchers to examine whether individual’s response to rape myth acceptance can predict rape potential and judgments of victim blaming and community members’ acceptance of marital rape.

Federica D’Alessandra. 2014. “Israel’s Associated Regime: Exceptionalism, Human Rights and Alternative Legality.” Utrecht Journal of International and European Law. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In the context of Israel’s declared permanent state of exception, this article focuses on the legal protection awarded to the Palestinian populations under Israeli control. To broaden the discussion over Palestinian people’s rights, which generally focuses on the confiscation of land and the right to return, the author consciously focuses on anti-terrorism and security measures, which contribute to the creation of what the International Court of Justice has defined as an ‘associated regime’ of occupation. The article is divided into three parts. In the first part, the author discusses Israel’s domestic obligations towards Palestinians (arguing the case of both Palestinian citizens of Israel, and Palestinian residents) and their de jure and de facto discrimination. The second part discusses the applicability of humanitarian law, specifically the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention. This section discusses the applicability of the Convention to both territories and people under Israeli control. The third part discusses the applicability of international human rights law to all territories under Israeli control and delves into the issue of the mutual relationship between the two international legal regimes in the territories under occupation. The article posits that Israel’s rationale for the non-applicability of such legislation to the Palestinian territories and populations it controls constitutes a form of ‘alternative legality’. The article concludes that Israel’s disproportionate application of security practices and anti-terrorism measures to the Palestinian segment of its population violates Palestinian rights protected under Israel’s domestic and international legal obligations.

Mathias Risse. 2014. “"Response to Arneson, de Bres, and Stilz".” Ethics & International Affairs, 28, 4, Pp. 511-522. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Common humanity is one ground of justice. The distinctively human life generates claims, and their form is that of natural rights. However, explorations of how the distinctively human life generates obligations lead only to a rather limited set of rights—basic security and subsistence rights. Inquiries into another nonrelational ground also produce rather limited results. That ground is humanity's collective ownership of the earth. The principle of justice associated with it merely requires an equal opportunity to use natural spaces and resources for the satisfaction of basic needs. In particular, this result is incompatible with any kind of welfarist commitment. The sheer fact that anybody's welfare as suchwould be lowered or raised is not a matter of justice. If people share associations with each other (membership in a state, or being connected by trade, say) we can derive obligations from their shared involvement with these associations. But unless people do indeed share such associations, the obligations that hold among them will be rather limited.

Zachary D. Kaufman. 4/7/2016. United States Law and Policy on Transitional Justice: Principles, Politics and Pragmatics, Pp. 382 pages. Oxford University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In United States Law and Policy on Transitional Justice: Principles, Politics, and Pragmatics, Zachary D. Kaufman, J.D., Ph.D., explores the U.S. government’s support for, or opposition to, certain transitional justice institutions. By first presenting an overview of possible responses to atrocities (such as war crimes tribunals) and then analyzing six historical case studies, Dr. Kaufman evaluates why and how the United States has pursued particular transitional justice options since World War II. This book challenges the “legalist” paradigm, which postulates that liberal states pursue war crimes tribunals because their decision-makers hold a principled commitment to the rule of law. Dr. Kaufman develops an alternative theory—“prudentialism”—which contends that any state (liberal or illiberal) may support bona fide war crimes tribunals. More generally, prudentialism proposes that states pursue transitional justice options, not out of strict adherence to certain principles, but as a result of a case-specific balancing of politics, pragmatics, and normative beliefs. Dr. Kaufman tests these two competing theories through the U.S. experience in six contexts: Germany and Japan after World War II, the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, the 1990-1991 Iraqi offenses against Kuwaitis, the atrocities in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and the 1994  genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Dr. Kaufman demonstrates that political and pragmatic factors featured as or more prominently in U.S. transitional justice policy than did U.S. government officials’ normative beliefs. Dr. Kaufman thus concludes that, at least for the United States, prudentialism is superior to legalism as an explanatory theory in transitional justice policymaking.

Federica D’Alessandra. 2014. “Psychological Consequences of Becoming a Child Soldier”.Abstract

As the civilian population is increasingly targeted in wars, children constitute an increasing quota among the victims of each conflict. More often than not, the horrific practice of targeting civilians during conflict is seconded by the deplorable active use of child soldiers. In some countries, a whole generation of children seems to have grown up without knowing peace. A lot has been written about war-affected people, and the psychological consequences that they bear as a result of these traumatic experiences; yet, a literature that focuses specifically on the psychological burden of child soldiers is only now slowly emerging. While it might be intuitive that war and widespread violence leave deep psychological scars, it is essential to understand what shape these scars take on children. The relevance of the topic is striking at both a humanitarian and a developmental level as ‘lost education can take years to regain, and physical and psychological trauma may be long lasting’. 

Federica D’Alessandra. 2015. “Jus ad bellum in Syria: The Meaning of the US Airpower Campaign.” International Bar Association: Human Rights Law Newsletter, Pp. 37-41.Abstract

Operation Inherent Resolve is the name of the air campaign carried out by a Combined Joint Task Force of US-led coalition forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.1 Repeatedly, the campaign has been engaged to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ Daesh. The group is a terrorist-designated organisation3responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity – arguably even genocide (against the Yazidis minority of Iraq) – underthe Rome Statute. The group is at war with more than 60 nations or groups: coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq includeAustralia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States; coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.