Global Governance and Civil Society

Chicago Public Schools Monitored Social Media for Signs of Violence, Gang Membership

February 11, 2019

New article in ProPublica Illinois mentions the work of Desmond Patton, Carr Center Technology and Human Rights Fellow.

"School officials say the monitoring was about keeping students safe, not punishing them. But critics say it expanded the role of police in schools and increased surveillance of children."​​​​​​​


Read more about Chicago Public Schools Monitored Social Media for Signs of Violence, Gang Membership
From Brexit to African ICC Exit: A Dangerous Trend
Just Security. 10/31/2016. “From Brexit to African ICC Exit: A Dangerous Trend.” Just Security . Publisher's VersionAbstract
Read the article by Fellow Luis Moreno Ocampo:

Burundi, South Africa, and the Gambia are not violating international law merely by announcing their withdrawal from the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court. In accordance with Article 127 of the Rome Statute, they have every right to go.

Contrary to what some commentators seem to believe, the ICC and the Rome Statute system will not disappear because of some withdrawals. The Statute can still function with 121 states or even less. Think about it this way: in 2003, I was appointed as ICC Prosecutor by 78 states. In those days, the Bush Administration was embarked on military operations in Iraq ignoring the position of the majority of the UN Security Council members, authorizing the use of torture, campaigning against the International Criminal Court and threatening states party of the Rome Statute with economic sanctions for not providing immunity for US troops. Despite those conditions, less than 100 states parties were able to provide the cooperation and support that the Court needed to function. Thirteen years later the system developed by the Rome Statute is a reality, part of international law’s landscape. Its existence is not at risk—its relevance, as with the relevance of international law to manage conflicts, is in question. Just Security produced three important opinions.

Read the full post on Just Security.

How Democracy in America Can Survive Donald Trump
John Shattuck. 2/23/2018. “How Democracy in America Can Survive Donald Trump.” The American Prospect. Publisher's VersionAbstract
New article by Senior Fellow John Shattuck in The American Prospect.

Alexis de Tocqueville observed in 1835 that “the greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” Tocqueville’s observation, broadly accurate over the past two centuries, is facing perhaps its most severe test today.

In its 2016 “Democracy Index” report, the Economist Intelligence Unit downgraded the United States from a “full” to a “flawed democracy.” In 2018, Freedom House offered a more dire assessment: “[D]emocratic institutions have suffered erosion, as reflected in partisan manipulation of the electoral process, bias and dysfunction in the criminal justice system, and growing disparities in wealth, economic opportunity, and political influence.”

Declining participation and confidence in government are not new, but the populist forces that propelled the election of Donald Trump signaled a new level of public disillusionment with democratic politics and institutions. During his campaign and first year in office, Trump’s core constituency cheered him on as he attacked fundamental elements of liberal democracy, including media freedom, judicial independence, and a pluralist civil society. 

Read the full article in The American Prospect. 

International Pressure on Us Human Rights Matters Now More Than Ever
Kathryn Sikkink. 11/11/2016. “International Pressure on Us Human Rights Matters Now More Than Ever”.Abstract
Read Kathryn Sikkink's article in OpenDemocracy: 

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 domestic movements to protect vulnerable populations from hate and discrimination and to mobilize groups harmed by globalization.  Domestic movements, as always, must frame their work in ways that will resonate politically. But human rights will continue to be one important language to mobilize both domestic and international publics. The US election did not reveal a tectonic shift in the electorate. Clinton won the popular vote and Trump received fewer votes than Romney did in 2012. This is less a story of a major realignment of US politics, and more about the electoral college, voter turnout and the impact of third parties.  Sexism and xenophobia, nothing new in US politics, played a role. These issues are all important but insufficient to conclude that we should suddenly abandon human rights.

Read the full article via Kathryn Sikkink on OpenDemocracy

Resisting Trumpism in Europe and the United States
John Shattuck. 12/2/2016. “Resisting Trumpism in Europe and the United States.” The American Prospect.Abstract
Read the 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 pluralism, minority rights, and civil liberties, keeping the forms of democracy without the substance. The same trends are proceeding in France, the Netherlands, the U.K., and other European democracies where far-right parties under the banner of populist nationalism are pursuing racist and xenophobic objectives.

Having returned to the United States this fall after seven years in Hungary, I am struck by the shocking parallel between what is happening in Europe and here at home. The Trump election signals a sharp turn toward the populist far right. The presidential campaign was marked by the denigration of women and minorities and the rhetoric of racial extremism. The president-elect’s early appointments include people with these views. Civil liberties are threatened. Foreign alliances are in jeopardy. The risk of war is heightened.

Human Rights Aren’t Just from the Global North – so Why Aren’t We Talking About It?
Kathryn Sikkink. 3/14/2018. “Human Rights Aren’t Just from the Global North – so Why Aren’t We Talking About It?” EachOther.Abstract
Kathryn Sikkink looks at the outstanding contributions of human rights activists from Chile to China.

When we discuss the origins of human rights, we tend to focus on contributors from the Global North like Eleanor Roosevelt and René Cassin. But are we getting the full picture? Kathryn Sikkink, author of Evidence for Hope: Making Human Rights Work in the 21st Century, says no. She argues that human rights owe their existence to a global effort, with important contributors from the Global South.   

RightsInfo went to her talk, organised by the Centre on Conflict, Rights and Justice and the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, to find out more.

When we discuss the origins of human rights, we tend to focus on contributors from the Global North like Eleanor Roosevelt and René Cassin. But are we getting the full picture? Kathryn Sikkink, author of Evidence for Hope: Making Human Rights Work in the 21st Century, says no. She argues that human rights owe their existence to a global effort, with important contributors from the Global South.  

Original Article on Rights Info.

Wake Up, Hapless Technology Users
Kathryn Sikkink. 3/21/2018. “Wake Up, Hapless Technology Users.” The Boston Globe. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Read this Op-Ed in the Boston Globe by Professor Kathryn Sikkink.

"Wake up, users of technology! You are not just a hapless victim, but you too have obligations — along with, of course, the multiple obligations of governments and corporations. We all should know by now that our smartphones are little spy machines that we carry around in our pockets and our Facebook pages are open invitations for violations of privacy. They are usually benevolent spy machines, and certainly, indispensable ones, but spy machines nonetheless."

Read the full Op-Ed here.

Businesses, Guns, and Human Rights
Patricia Illingworth. 3/22/2018. “Businesses, Guns, and Human Rights.” The Hastings Center. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla, resulted in the deaths of 17 people.
Tragically, from January 1 to March 21, 2018, there were 3,088 gun-related deaths and 5,355 gun-related injuries in the United States. Gun violence is a public health problem. But it’s also a human rights problem.  It is time to turn to international human rights and moral and social norms, which ground obligations for individuals and business organizations to limit gun ownership.

Human rights are entitlements that all people have by virtue of their humanity. Gun violence puts a number of human rights at risk. Most obviously, it threatens Article 6 of the United Nation’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: “Every human being has the inherent right to life.” Studies show that the mere presence of guns increases the probability of crime, suicide, and accidents.

Ethics asks us to promote the good and to prevent harm to others, especially when we can do so with little inconvenience to ourselves. Individuals are not alone in having moral responsibilities. In the eyes of the law, corporations are persons; they also have moral responsibilities. Businesses that manufacture guns have a moral responsibility to ensure that their products are not used in acts of violence. Businesses are also subject to the far more demanding obligations of international human rights.

Read the full post on The Hastings Center website.

We tried to save 150 people in Aleppo from 5,000 miles away
Steven Livingston and Jonathan Drake. 1/9/2017. “We tried to save 150 people in Aleppo from 5,000 miles away.” The Washington Post .Abstract
Article in The Washington Post by Carr Center Senior Fellow Steven Livingston.

"With Russian and Syrian forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad’s regime rapidly closing in, the situation for those trapped in eastern Aleppo in the first week of December was growing grimmer by the hour. It was especially dire for the White Helmets, a Syrian first-responders group that had won international acclaim for its humanitarian work, including a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Assad regime held a different view, describing the group as rebels and terrorists.

On Dec. 8 at 3:30 p.m. in Boston, one of the first messages from the White Helmets to reach researchers at Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative said that “three gas bombs have been dropped in the area within the last two hours and they [the White Helmets] feel they have less than 48 hours to evacuate before they are seized.” The Harvard group was asked to help find an escape route out of Aleppo for the White Helmets and their families, about 150 people in all.

How could Harvard scholars sitting in Cambridge, Mass., help 150 people find their way out of a war zone? We hoped it could be done with commercial remote-sensing satellites."

Read the full article in The Washington Post.

Steven Livingston is a senior fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and a professor at George Washington University.

Jonathan Drake is a senior program associate with the Geospatial Technologies Project at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

How to Defend Human Rights in the Trump Era
John Shattuck. 1/25/2017. “How to Defend Human Rights in the Trump Era.” The Boston Globe.Abstract
Carr Center's Senior Fellow John Shattuck's latest Op-Ed in the Boston Globe.

Recent presidents who threatened rights have been reined in. Richard Nixon used the power of the presidency to attack the Constitution and his political enemies, but the House of Representatives voted to impeach him. Ronald Reagan tried to overturn hard-won legislation on the rights of women and minorities, but civil society groups and a bipartisan congressional coalition beat back the attack. George W. Bush introduced the use of torture in violation of domestic and international law, but resistance inside the federal government led to reinstatement of the torture ban.

Following these examples, a new citizen movement must mobilize the assets of American democracy to protect basic rights and freedoms in the Trump era."

Read the full Op-Ed in the Boston Globe.

How Trump Can Work with Russia to Challenge the Status Quo and to Control ISIS
Luis Moreno Ocampo. 1/18/2017. “How Trump Can Work with Russia to Challenge the Status Quo and to Control ISIS.” JustSecurity .Abstract
New article in JustSecurity from Senior Fellow Luis Moreno Ocampo.

"What should President Donald Trump do if ISIS crashed a plane into the Freedom Tower next September 11, 2017? After 16 years of a so-called “war on terror,” would experts be able to provide the new President with a clear and effective strategy to confront international terrorism? A short answer to the question is no. In 2015, Stephen Walt denounced a massive, collective failure of the entire U.S. foreign-policy establishment including Democrats and Republican to propose new strategies to deal with international terrorism in the Middle East.

In this essay, I explain, first, the strategic opportunity available through greater US-Russian cooperation and, second, the tools for disrupting ISIS by establishing new international mechanisms—such as a UN Security Council Chief Prosecutor—to go after the group’s leadership and its money."

Read the full article.

Facts Aren’t Enough to Save Liberal Democracy
Chistopher Robichaud. 1/17/2017. “Facts Aren’t Enough to Save Liberal Democracy.” Niskanen Center .Abstract
Facts Aren’t Enough to Save Liberal Democracy by Carr Center's Christopher Robichaud.

"Facts these days are taking a beating in politics. A month or so back, Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes shared on “The Diane Rehm Show” that “[t]here’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore, as facts.” She was pilloried in the press over this, not unsurprisingly, though her words, taken at face value, do at least convey a sense of loss over our purported predicament—it’s unfortunate that there aren’t any facts anymore. Unfortunate or not, is she right that truth has left the building?

Well, no, of course not. We still have death and taxes, if nothing else, two stubborn, non-negotiable facts of modern life. And even if Republicans somehow manage to do away entirely with the latter in the first hundred days of Trump’s presidency, I’m pretty sure we’ll be stuck with our own mortality for at least a little while longer.

The really real world, in other words, didn’t suddenly slip away during the 2016 election cycle, impressions to the contrary notwithstanding. Be that as it may, it’s hard to deny that something funny is going on."
Read the full post on the Niskanen Center website.