Special Initiatives

2020 Feb 27

The New Geopolitical Order

4:15pm to 5:30pm


Knafel Center | 10 Garden Street Cambridge, MA 02138

The new geopolitical environment taking shape in many parts of the world tends toward increasing authoritarianism and nationalistic competition. Inwardly focused governments are pursuing individual agendas, and eventually, these differing agendas will collide.... Read more about The New Geopolitical Order

2020 Apr 07

CANCELLED - The Price of Civil Rights: Black Lives, White Funding, and Movement Capture

11:45am to 1:00pm


Allison Dining Room

The Carr Center’s Human Rights in Hard Places talk series offers unparalleled insights and analysis from the frontlines by human rights practitioners, policy makers, and innovators. Moderated by Sushma Raman, the series highlights current day human rights and humanitarian concerns such as human rights in North Korea, migration on the US-Mexico border, Myanmar, and the dismantling of democracy.

Megan Ming Francis, Visiting Associate Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and author of Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State...

Read more about CANCELLED - The Price of Civil Rights: Black Lives, White Funding, and Movement Capture
"I Feel Like We Are People Who Have Never Known Each Other Before": The Experiences of Survivors of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation Transitioning From Shelters to Life in the Community
Laura Cordisco Tsai, Vanntheary Lim, and Channtha Nhanh. 1/2020. “"I Feel Like We Are People Who Have Never Known Each Other Before": The Experiences of Survivors of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation Transitioning From Shelters to Life in the Community.” Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 21, 1. See full text.Abstract
Journal article by Carr Fellow Laura Cordisco Tsai analyzes how survivors of sexual exploitation transition back to life in their communities.

In this article, we explore the experiences of survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Cambodia as they transition from living in trafficking-specific shelter facilities to living in the community. We analyzed data from Chab Dai's Butterfly Longitudinal Research (BLR) project, a 10-year longitudinal study with survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Cambodia utilizing a prospective panel design. We present findings from our analysis of 236 interviews and narrative summaries of interviews conducted with survivors between the years 2011 and 2016 (n=79). An interpretive phenomenological approach was used to understand survivors' experiences during this transition. Themes included: conflicted feelings about life in the community; difficulties completing school and securing employment; violence in the community; limited follow-up; unfulfilled expectations; feeling loved like a family member in the shelter, but abandoned in the community; vulnerability in the community due to dramatic differences between shelters and the community; and varied experiences with case closure. We underscore the importance of understanding and listening to the voices of survivors about their experiences in the anti-human trafficking sector and discuss implications for the design and implementation of services for survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Southeast Asia.

Gina Haspel Is a Torturer. What Else Does the Senate Need to Know?
Alberto Mora. 3/15/2018. “Gina Haspel Is a Torturer. What Else Does the Senate Need to Know?” Politico . Publisher's VersionAbstract
A new Op-Ed by Carr Center Senior Fellow Alberto Mora in Politico.

President Donald Trump is notoriously hostile toward the CIA. He frequently denigrates it in public and reportedly rarely even bothers to read its reports. None of Trump’s critical tweets, utterances or acts, however, carries as much venom or has the potential for causing as much harm to the agency as the president’s recent nomination of Gina Haspel to serve as the CIA’s next director. If evidence were needed of the president’s continuing grudge against the agency, this is it.

Original post, in Politico, here.

On Trade Justice: A Philosophical Plea for a New Global Deal
Mathias Risse and Gabriel Wollner. 12/3/2019. On Trade Justice: A Philosophical Plea for a New Global Deal. 1st ed., Pp. 288. New York : Oxford University Press. See full text.Abstract
This novel account of trade justice makes ideas about exploitation central, giving pride of place to philosophical ideas about global justice but also contributing to moral disputes about practical questions. On Trade Justice is a philosophical plea for a new global deal, in continuation of, but also at appropriate distance to, post-war efforts to design a fair global-governance system in the spirit of the American New Deal of the 1930s. This book is written in the tradition of contemporary analytical philosophy but also puts its subject into a historical perspective to motivate its relevance. It covers the subject of trade justice from its theoretical foundations to a number of specific issues on which the authors' account throws light. The state as an actor in the domain of global justice is central to the discussion but it also explores the obligations of business extensively, recognizing the importance of the modern corporation for trade. Topics such as wages injustice, collusion with authoritarian regimes, relocation decisions, and obligations arising from interaction with suppliers and sub-contractors all enter prominently. Another central actor in the domain of trade is the World Trade Organization. The WTO needs to see itself as an agent of justice. This book explores how this organization should be reformed in light of the proposals it makes. In particular, the WTO needs to endorse a human-rights and development-oriented mandate. Overall, this book hopes to make a theoretical contribution to the creation of an exploitation-free world.
Legitimacy: The Right to Rule in a Wanton World
Arthur Applbaum. 11/19/2019. Legitimacy: The Right to Rule in a Wanton World. 1st ed., Pp. 304. Cambridge : Harvard University Press. See full text.Abstract

In this rigorous and timely study, Arthur Isak Applbaum argues that adherence to procedure is not enough: even a properly chosen government does not rule legitimately if it fails to protect basic rights, to treat its citizens as political equals, or to act coherently.

How are we to reconcile every person’s entitlement to freedom with the necessity of coercive law? Applbaum’s answer is that a government legitimately governs its citizens only if the government is a free group agent constituted by free citizens. To be a such a group agent, a government must uphold three principles. The liberty principle, requiring that the basic rights of citizens be secured, is necessary to protect against inhumanity, a tyranny in practice. The equality principle, requiring that citizens have equal say in selecting who governs, is necessary to protect against despotism, a tyranny in title. The agency principle, requiring that a government’s actions reflect its decisions and its decisions reflect its reasons, is necessary to protect against wantonism, a tyranny of unreason.

Today, Applbaum writes, the greatest threat to the established democracies is neither inhumanity nor despotism but wantonism, the domination of citizens by incoherent, inconstant, and incontinent rulers. A government that cannot govern itself cannot legitimately govern others.


Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Talks Ethics and Technology at Kennedy School
Michelle G. Kurilla. 9/10/2019. “Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Talks Ethics and Technology at Kennedy School.” The Harvard Crimson. See full text.Abstract
Luís Roberto Barroso, current justice of the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil and senior fellow of the Harvard Kennedy School, warned that advances in technology will pose new dangers to Brazilian and American democratic institutions in a speech at the school Monday evening.

He said the development of artificial intelligence — which he called the “fourth industrial revolution” — will prompt urgent questions about the proper limits of freedom of expression on the internet, including ways to combat hate speech and fake news.

Read the full article here

The Education of an Idealist
Samantha Power. 9/10/2019. The Education of an Idealist. Dey Street Books. See full text.Abstract
In her memoir, Power offers an urgent response to the question "What can one person do?"—and a call for a clearer eye, a kinder heart, and a more open and civil hand in our politics and daily lives.

The Education of an Idealist traces Power’s distinctly American journey from immigrant to war correspondent to presidential Cabinet official. In 2005, her critiques of US foreign policy caught the eye of newly elected senator Barack Obama, who invited her to work with him on Capitol Hill and then on his presidential campaign. After Obama was elected president, Power went from being an activist outsider to a government insider, navigating the halls of power while trying to put her ideals into practice. She served for four years as Obama's human rights adviser, and in 2013, he named her US Ambassador to the United Nations, the youngest American to assume the role.

Power transports us from her childhood in Dublin to the streets of war-torn Bosnia to the White House Situation Room and the world of high-stakes diplomacy. Humorous and deeply honest, The Education of an Idealist lays bare the searing battles and defining moments of her life and shows how she juggled the demands of a 24/7 national security job with the challenge of raising two young children. Along the way, she illuminates the intricacies of politics and geopolitics, reminding us how the United States can lead in the world, and why we each have the opportunity to advance the cause of human dignity. Power's memoir is an unforgettable account of the power of idealism and of one person's fierce determination to make a difference.


Trump wants to “detect mass shooters before they strike.” It won’t work.
Desmond Patton. 8/7/2019. “Trump wants to “detect mass shooters before they strike.” It won’t work.” Vox.com. See full text.Abstract
New article on Vox highlights the work of Desmond Patton, Technology and Human Rights Fellow.

Desmond Patton, a Technology and AI fellow at the Carr Center, emphasized that current AI tools tend to identify the language of African American and Latinx people as gang-involved or otherwise threatening, but consistently miss the posts of white mass murderers.

"I think technology is a tool, not the tool," said Patton. "Often we use it as an escape so as to not address critical solutions that need to come through policy. We have to pair tech with gun reform. Any effort that suggests we need to do them separately, I don’t think that would be a successful effort at all.”

Read the full article here

Reclaiming Stonewall: Welcome to the Celebration—and the Struggle
Timothy Patrick McCarthy. 6/24/2019. “Reclaiming Stonewall: Welcome to the Celebration—and the Struggle.” The Nation. See full text.Abstract

As we reckon with the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, it is essential that we ask, “What still needs to be done?”

"Fifty years ago, in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, a motley multitude of queer folks fought back. The stage was the Stonewall Inn, a popular Mafia-owned gay bar on Christopher Street in New York City’s West Village. The spectacle was a police raid, which had become an increasingly routine fact of queer life during the 1960s. It was summer, people were hot, and the nation was pulsing with protest."

Read more.