Political Prisoners

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

Political Prisoners - Experts

Human Security - Experts

PippaNorris

Pippa Norris

Paul. F. McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics
kathrynsikkink

Kathryn Sikkink

Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor, Radcliffe

Human Security - News

PolicyCast - The Challenges Faced by Human Rights Organizations with Sushma Raman

PolicyCast - The Challenges Faced by Human Rights Organizations with Sushma Raman

December 21, 2016

While human history is replete with examples of repression and the struggle against it, it wasn’t until 1948 that the world came together to declare in one voice the sanctity of each individual’s dignity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a triumph of the post-war period, and while the world is by most measures a far better place today than in 1948, the declaration’s adoption was not the end of the fight for human...

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Donald Trump raises specter of treason

Donald Trump raises specter of treason

December 16, 2016

 

A specter of treason hovers over Donald Trump. He has brought it on himself by dismissing a bipartisan call for an investigation of Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee as a “ridiculous” political attack on the legitimacy of his election as president.

Seventeen US national intelligence agencies have unanimously concluded that Russia engaged in cyberwarfare against the US presidential campaign. The lead agency, the CIA, has reached the further conclusion that Russia’s hacking was intended to influence the election in favor of Trump.

...

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In the Democratic Republic of Congo, donations were too little too late

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, donations were too little too late

November 29, 2016

Written by Carr Center Research Assistant Tom O'Bryan.

Countless studies have shown that democracies are less likely to go to war, torture their own citizens, and censor the media. That's one reason why Western governments and philanthropic foundations funnel more than $10 billion every year into promoting democracy overseas. For example, donors fund efforts to help train election observers, educate voters about their rights, and train local media outlets to cover political issues.

In the last year, more than $70 million have been spent on such projects in the...

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Resisting Trumpism in Europe and the United States

Resisting Trumpism in Europe and the United States

December 2, 2016

Article by Senior Fellow John Shattuck.

Authoritarian democracy is on the march on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite alarming parallels, the U.S. remains better positioned to preserve and rebuild true democracy.

The election of Donald Trump shows what happens when democracy misfires. It echoes recent developments in Europe, most notably in Hungary and Poland, where elected leaders are attacking democratic...

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These GOP foreign policy pros are wary of working for Trump

These GOP foreign policy pros are wary of working for Trump

November 17, 2016

Members of the conservative foreign policy intelligentsia, who spent the eight long years of the Obama administration biding their time at think tanks and universities, finally have a shot at upper level administration jobs

But now that those coveted Washington positions as deputy secretaries, assistant secretaries, and the like are finally open, many are racked with new anxiety: Is it a good idea to serve in a Trump administration if you disagree deeply with Donald Trump?...

“It’s not good,” said Alberto Mora, a senior fellow at the Harvard...

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International pressure on US human rights matters now more than ever

International pressure on US human rights matters now more than ever

November 11, 2016

These are dangerous times.  Never has it been so important for domestic and international human rights advocates and scholars to collaborate.  Such action must be guided by past successes in promoting human rights, based on our best history and social science. I share Stephen Hopgood’s sense of urgency, but I disagree with his recommendation that we should only engage in domestic politics and abandon international human rights norms and law. 

We will need even stronger...

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Human Security - Publications

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.

John Shattuck. 3/26/2016. “Karadzic verdict is a victory for civilization.” The Boston Globe. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Op-Ed from Carr Center's John Shattuck.

"In a world rampant with terrorism, Thursday’s verdict in the Radovan Karadzic trial in The Hague is a victory for international justice. The former Bosnian Serb leader was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes for leading a reign of genocidal terror during the Bosnian war."

John Shattuck. 4/26/2016. “US needs to help the EU end the refugee crisis.” The Boston Globe. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The refugee crisis is at the center of Europe’s political war. Some European countries are building walls to exclude people seeking refuge from the deadly conflicts in the Middle East, while others — notably Greece, Germany, and the Nordics — are working to reinforce EU values of openness and tolerance. The United States should do more to promote these values by increasing its support for relief efforts and opening its doors to refugees from the Middle East. European governments this year are contributing four times more money than the United States to the financially strapped United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Meanwhile, the United States will resettle a minuscule 10,000 Syrian refugees, compared with more than 500,000 in Germany.

Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age (Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity)
Jacqueline Bhaba. 2016. Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age (Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity). Reprint Edition. Princeton University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Why, despite massive public concern, is child trafficking on the rise? Why are unaccompanied migrant children living on the streets and routinely threatened with deportation to their countries of origin? Why do so many young refugees of war-ravaged and failed states end up warehoused in camps, victimized by the sex trade, or enlisted as child soldiers? This book provides the first comprehensive account of the widespread but neglected global phenomenon of child migration, exploring the complex challenges facing children and adolescents who move to join their families, those who are moved to be exploited, and those who move simply to survive. Spanning several continents and drawing on the stories of young migrants, Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age provides a comprehensive account of the widespread and growing but neglected global phenomenon of child migration and child trafficking. It looks at the often-insurmountable obstacles we place in the paths of adolescents fleeing war, exploitation, or destitution; the contradictory elements in our approach to international adoption; and the limited support we give to young people brutalized as child soldiers. Part history, part in-depth legal and political analysis, this powerful book challenges the prevailing wisdom that widespread protection failures are caused by our lack of awareness of the problems these children face, arguing instead that our societies have a deep-seated ambivalence to migrant children–one we need to address head-on. Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age offers a road map for doing just that, and makes a compelling and courageous case for an international ethics of children’s human rights.

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.

Dara Kay Cohen. 8/2015. “Do States Delegate Shameful Violence to Militias?” The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 59, 5, Pp. 877-898. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Existing research maintains that governments delegate extreme, gratuitous, or excessively brutal violence to militias. However, analyzing all militias in armed conflicts from 1989 to 2009, we find that this argument does not account for the observed patterns of sexual violence, a form of violence that should be especially likely to be delegated by governments. Instead, we find that states commit sexual violence as a complement to—rather than a substitute for—violence perpetrated by militias. Rather than the logic of delegation, we argue that two characteristics of militia groups increase the probability of perpetrating sexual violence. First, we find that militias that have recruited children are associated with higher levels of sexual violence. This lends support to a socialization hypothesis, in which sexual violence may be used as a tool for building group cohesion. Second, we find that militias that were trained by states are associated with higher levels of sexual violence, which provides evidence for sexual violence as a “practice” of armed groups. These two complementary results suggest that militia-perpetrated sexual violence follows a different logic and is neither the result of delegation nor, perhaps, indiscipline.

Michael Semple. 2015. Rhetoric, Ideology, and Organizational Structure of the Taliban Movement. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This report examines the evolution of the Taliban case for armed struggle and the minimal adjustments Taliban rhetoricians made to cope with the impending political change in Afghanistan in 2014. It considers how the Taliban might make a case for peace, should they take the political decision to engage in negotiations. 

The Taliban movement commands the loyalty of thousands of Afghans and applies resources and men to the pursuit of political objectives, guided by doctrine and inspired by rhetoric. Taliban rhetoric consists of religious and historical references, narratives of recent events, and guidance for Taliban sympathizers. The rhetoric asserts that the Taliban are engaged in a righteous jihad aimed at establishing a divinely ordered Islamic system in Afghanistan. Taliban doctrine focuses on internal affairs and in particular on maintaining cohesiveness. The Taliban are ruthless in enforcing their doctrine of obedience to the amir, or leader. The movement has retained a narrow social base, and its power is concentrated in the hands of mullahs from the Kandahari Pashtun tribes. Any project to build a plural Afghanistan is likely to include an appeal to the Taliban or the constituency they have mobilized. The Taliban’s own attempts to regain power rest on a negation of pluralism, rejection of a popular mandate, and assertion of the divine right vested in their Islamic emirate. A Taliban rhetoric of peace would require addressing the position of the Taliban’s amir, peace as a desirable state, the need for cohesiveness and unity in support of peace, celebration of the withdrawal of foreign troops, Islamic credentials of the government in Kabul, protection of those who sacrificed for the Taliban, peace as conclusion of the jihad, and the new role for the Taliban’s cadres. After 2014, the Taliban leadership is vulnerable to a hard-line challenge arguing that the political system in Kabul is irredeemably compromised by its collaboration with unbelievers.

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.

Human Security - Videos

Nadia Murad Basee Taha shares her story

Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman and ISIL survivor, came to the Carr Center for Human Rights to tell her story

UN High Commissioner: Have We Exaggerated Threat of ISIS?

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights joins us for the first episode of Human Rights in Conversation, discussing everything from the rise of ISIS to ethnic tensions in Burundi.