Special Initiatives

Fighting Terrorism - and the urge to ignore our basic American principles
Alberto Mora. 8/5/2016. “Fighting Terrorism - and the urge to ignore our basic American principles.” The Washington Post. See full text.Abstract
Op-Ed by Carr Center Senior Fellow Alberto Mora.

In late 2002, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service uncovered evidence that detainees were being abused during interrogations at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Concerned about the lawlessness and the professional incompetence of the interrogators, they sought out a senior attorney in the Defense Department’s office of general counsel. Nothing could be done, the attorney blandly informed them. “The decision has been taken,” he said, “and, anyway, if the public were to find out, no one would care.”

Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia
Siddharth Kara. 5/6/2014. Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia, Pp. 336. New York: Columbia University Press. See full text.Abstract
This volume is Kara's second, explosive study of slavery, this time focusing on the deeply entrenched and wholly unjust system of bonded labor.


Siddharth Kara's first book, Sex Trafficking , has become a critical resource for its revelations into an unconscionable business, and its detailed analysis of the trade's immense economic benefits and human cost.

In his second volume, drawing on eleven years of research in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, Kara delves into an ancient and ever-evolving mode of slavery that ensnares roughly six out of every ten slaves in the world and generates profits that exceeded $17.6 billion in 2011. In addition to providing a thorough economic, historical, and legal overview of bonded labor, Kara travels to the far reaches of South Asia, from cyclone-wracked southwestern Bangladesh to the Thar desert on the India-Pakistan border, to uncover the brutish realities of such industries as hand-woven-carpet making, tea and rice farming, construction, brick manufacture, and frozen-shrimp production. He describes the violent enslavement of millions of impoverished men, women, and children who toil in the production of numerous products at minimal cost to the global market. He also follows supply chains directly to Western consumers, vividly connecting regional bonded labor practices to the appetites of the world. Kara's pioneering analysis encompasses human trafficking, child labor, and global security, and he concludes with specific initiatives to eliminate the system of bonded labor from South Asia once and for all.

​​​​​​​Do States Delegate Shameful Violence to Militias? Patterns of Sexual Violence in Recent Armed Conflicts
Dara Kay Cohen. 8/2/2015. “​​​​​​​Do States Delegate Shameful Violence to Militias? Patterns of Sexual Violence in Recent Armed Conflicts.” The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 59, 5, Pp. 877-898. See full text.Abstract
Do States Delegate Shameful Violence to Militias? Patterns of Sexual Violence in Recent Armed Conflicts:

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.

The Strategic Cost of Torture: How “Enhanced Interrogation” Hurt America
Douglas A. Johnson, Alberto Mora, and Averell Schmidt. 9/2016. “The Strategic Cost of Torture: How “Enhanced Interrogation” Hurt America.” Foreign Affairs, no. September/ October 9/2016. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The Carr Center's "Strategic Consequences of Torture" project was recently featured in Foreign Affairs Magazine.

In the article, Carr Center's research team, Douglas A. Johnson, Alberto Mora, and Averell Schmidt argue that "a truly comprehensive assessment (of torture) would also explore the policy’s broader implications, including how it shaped the trajectory of the so-called war on terror, altered the relationship between the United States and its allies, and affected Washington’s pursuit of other key goals, such as the promotion of democracy and human rights abroad."

Read the full article. 

Classroom technologies narrow education gap in developing countries
Steven Livingston. 8/23/2016. “Classroom technologies narrow education gap in developing countries.” Brookings. See full text.Abstract
Classroom technologies narrow education gap in developing countries by Steven Livingston

Well before the invention of laptops and the World Wide Web, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology mathematician, computer scientist, and education visionary Seymour Papertrealized that connected electronic devices could improve the educational experience of students, even for those who face poverty and geographical isolation. His recent death has a particular poignancy in Kenya where the extreme disparities in educational opportunities among different schools and students exacerbate already serious social and economic tensions. Several weeks ago, I traveled to Nairobi to gain some perspective on Papert’s vision.

On Where We Differ: Sites Versus Grounds of Justice, and Some Other Reflections on Michael Blake’s Justice and Foreign Policy
Mathias Risse. 2/29/2016. “On Where We Differ: Sites Versus Grounds of Justice, and Some Other Reflections on Michael Blake’s Justice and Foreign Policy.” Law and Philosophy, 35, 3, Pp. 251-270. See full text.Abstract

Mathias Risse examines Michael Blake's Justice and Foreign Policy.


Blake’s book conveys a straightforward directive: the foreign policy of liberal states should be guided and constrained by the goal of helping other states to become liberal democracies as well.

This much is what we owe to people in other countries—this much but nothing more. The primary addressees are wealthier democracies, whose foreign policy ought to be guided by the idea of equality of all human beings. My approach in On Global Justice bears important similarities to Blake’s, but with those similarities also come equally important differences. The purpose of this piece is to bring out these similarities and differences and in the process articulate some objections to Blake.

Three Images of Trade: On the Place of Trade in a Theory of Global Justice
Mathias Risse. 2014. “Three Images of Trade: On the Place of Trade in a Theory of Global Justice.” Moral Philosophy and Politics, 1, 2. See full text.Abstract
Economic theory teaches us that it is in every country’s own best interest to engage in trade.


Trade therefore is a voluntary activity among consenting parties. On this view, considerations of justice have little bearing on trade, and political philosophers concerned with matters of global justice should stay largely silent on trade. According to a very different view that has recently gained some prominence, international trade can only occur before the background of an existing international market reliance practice that is shaped by states. On this view, trade is a shared activity among states, and all participating states have in principle equal claims to the gains from trade. Trade then becomes a central topic for political philosophers concerned with global justice. The authors find fault with both of those views and argue instead for a third view about the role of a trade in a theory of global justice. That view gives pride of place to a (non- Marxian) notion of exploitation, which is developed here in some detail.

Violence Against Women Middle East and North Africa
Hayat Bearat. 2014. “Violence Against Women Middle East and North Africa”. See full text.Abstract

Hayat Bearat discusses violence against women in the Middle East and North Africa through legal framework. 

Many women in MENA states fear reporting violence because of the repercussions they may face from their families, communities and legal system upon doing so. An example is in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), women who report rape can be threatened with criminal charges instead.20 In Libya,inadequate laws and services, coupled with Libya’s conservative society deter women from reporting rapes or domestic violence as they fear stigma and additional dangers from reporting the crimes.

In India, Dying to Go: Why Access to Toilets is a Women’s Rights Issue
Sharmila Murthy. 2014. “In India, Dying to Go: Why Access to Toilets is a Women’s Rights Issue.” WBUR Cognoscenti. See full text.Abstract
Access to clean, safe and private toilets is a women’s issue.

In May, two young women in rural India left their modest homes in the middle of the night to relieve themselves outside. Like millions in India, their homes had no bathrooms. The next morning, their bodies were found hanging from a mango tree. They had been attacked, gang-raped and strung up by their own scarves. Eighteen months after a gang-rape on a Delhi bus, this incident and others since have galvanized nationwide protests to end violence against women and highlighted caste-related discrimination. The tragic story also underscores the need to talk about another taboo topic: open defecation.

Human Rights and Alternative Legality in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Federica D’Alessandra. 2014. “Human Rights and Alternative Legality in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”. See full text.Abstract
This working paper focuses on the legal protection awarded to the Arab populations under Israeli jurisdiction.


In analyzing their legal protection, the author distinguishes between Arab Israelis and other Arab populations resident in territories under Israeli jurisdiction. The author does not deal with Israeli settlements or other discriminating laws such as marriage laws and the family reunification laws, but focuses on anti-terrorism measures. The working paper is divided in three parts: in the first part, the author discusses Israel’s domestic obligations towards Arab Israelis and Palestinian residents, and their de facto discrimination. The second part discusses the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to both the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Palestinian unlawful combatants. The third part discusses the applicability of human rights law to all territories under Israeli jurisdiction, and delves into the issue of the mutual relationship between the two international legal regimes in the territories under occupation. The working paper concludes that many Israeli anti-terrorism measures (such as check-points, night searches of Palestinian households, administrative detentions and targeted executions of Palestinian militants) violate individuals’ rights protected under domestic and international law. Moreover, this working paper finds that Israel’s rationale underpinning the non-applicability of such legislation to the Arab populations under its jurisdiction constitutes a form of ‘alternative legality’ and discrimination.

United States Law and Policy on Transitional Justice: Principles, Politics and Pragmatics
Zachary D. Kaufman. 4/7/2016. United States Law and Policy on Transitional Justice: Principles, Politics and Pragmatics, Pp. 382 pages. New York: Oxford University Press. See full text. Abstract
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.

The Human Right to Water and Common Ownership of the Earth
Mathias Risse. 2014. “The Human Right to Water and Common Ownership of the Earth.” Journal of Political Philosophy, Pp. 178-203. See full text.Abstract

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each human being requires at least 20 liters of clean water for daily consumption and basic hygiene.2 However, many countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East lack sufficient water resources or have so far failed to develop these resources or the necessary infrastructure.


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.