Transitional Justice

The Program on Transitional Justice examines the challenges of countries attempting to regain balance and redress legacies of massive human rights violations. It encompasses issues of legitimacy, criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, reparations, and various kinds of institutional reform necessary to protect vulnerable segments of a society and insure stability.

Transitional Justice - Experts

Kathryn Sikkink

Kathryn Sikkink

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

Human Security - Experts

Jacqueline Bhaba

Jacqueline Bhaba

Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health
Director of Research, François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights
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Human Security - News

moraalberto

Guantánamo: Bush-era officials warn keeping prison open may be $6bn error

February 2, 2018

Article features Carr Center Senior Fellow Alberto Mora
 

Alberto Mora, general counsel of the Department of the Navy from 2001 to 2006, expressed hope that Mattis, who persuaded Trump not to resume the use of torture, may also convince him not to send more inmates to Guantánamo, which Mora called “a ludicrous and extravagant waste of military manpower”.

But even if no more prisoners are sent there, Trump’...

Read more about Guantánamo: Bush-era officials warn keeping prison open may be $6bn error
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Human Security - Events

2018 Feb 26

Study Group: Metamorphosis - New Rights on the Horizon

12:00pm to 1:30pm

Location: 

T 520- Nye B

The study group will meet on four occasions this semester. Upcoming dates to be annouced shortly.

*If you would like to participate in this semester's study group, apply by submitting your CV and Cover Letter to Carr_Center@hks.harvard.edu before 5pm Friday, February 16!  (If you were in this study group in the fall, you do not have to reapply.)

In your cover letter, please indicate your interest and affiliation. As you consider your interest, please note that you will need to come prepared with the readings for each...

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2018 Mar 21

The Fierce Urgency of Now Speaker Series: Tim McCarthy - The Paradox of Progress: LGBTQ Human Rights in the 21st Century

5:30pm to 6:45pm

Location: 

Rubenstein 414AB, Harvard Kennedy School, 79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA

Fierce Urgency of Now speaker seriesThe Carr Center is excited to announce its 2018 Speaker Series: The Fierce Urgency of Now: Human Rights in 2018. The series will be faciliated by Professor...

Read more about The Fierce Urgency of Now Speaker Series: Tim McCarthy - The Paradox of Progress: LGBTQ Human Rights in the 21st Century
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Human Security - Publications

Trump's First Year: How Resilient is Liberal Democracy in the US?
John Shattuck, Amanda Watson, and Matthew McDole. 2/15/2018. Trump's First Year: How Resilient is Liberal Democracy in the US?. Carr Center for Human Rights Policy . Cambridge, MA: Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This paper by Ambassador John Shattuck, Amanda Watson and Matthew McDole examines the resilience of liberal democracy and democratic institutions in the US after one year of the Trump administration. 


SUMMARY
 

In its 2016 “Democracy Index” report, the Economist Intelligence Unit downgraded the United States from a “full” to a “flawed democracy”. The report cited “an erosion of trust in political institutions” as the primary reason for the downgrade.[1] In January 2018 Freedom House offered an equally dire assessment: “democratic institutions in the US have suffered erosion, as reflected in partisan manipulation of the electoral process . . . and growing disparities in wealth, economic opportunity and political influence.”[2]

Declining levels of political participation and public confidence in government in the US are not new, but the populist forces that propelled the election of Donald Trump in 2016 signaled a new level of public disillusionment with democratic politics as usual. There has been a sharp increase in public discontent with the system of governance in the US over the last fifteen years. An October 2017 Washington Post/University of Maryland poll found that 71% of Americans believe that political polarization and democratic dysfunction have reached “a dangerous low point”.[3] Three years earlier, in 2014, a Gallup Poll showed that 65% of Americans were “dissatisfied with their system of government and how it works,” a dramatic reversal from 68% satisfaction twelve years earlier in 2002.[4]

The US is a flawed liberal democracy.[5] In theory, liberal democracy is the antithesis of authoritarianism. Its ingredients include free and fair elections, freedom of speech and media freedom, an independent judiciary, minority rights and civil liberties, a diverse civil society, the rule of law and a system of checks and balances against concentrations of power. The institutions and elements of liberal democracy are designed to be a bulwark against tyranny by both the executive and the majority.

Alberto Mo. 2/5/2018. “How Trump Just Might Close Guantanamo Prison.” Defense One.Abstract

The president asked SecDef and Congress to ensure that detention policies support warfighting aims. That should mean shutting Gitmo down.

Will President Trump close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay?  

This question may sound preposterous. After all, President Obama, who called the prison a threat to national security and American ideals, actually tried to close it. President Trump, by contrast, is on record as vehemently favoring not only its continuation but its expansion. On Jan. 30 he reaffirmed that commitment both in his State of the Union address and in an executive order revoking President Obama’s order commanding its closure. 

Why, then, even raise the prospect of closing Guantanamo during this administration? The answer lies in two related actions recently taken by the president: his command to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to “reexamine our military detention policy” and report back to him within 90 days and his request to Congress to ensure that “we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists.” The two actions in conjunction represent an unexpected open-mindedness on the part of the president with respect to detention policy. By seeking a broad-focus, “blank-sheet-of-paper” review, asking Mattis to take charge, and inviting Congress to join with them, President Trump acted prudently and, dare I say it, wisely. 

Full Op-Ed in Defense One.

Steven Livingston and Sushma Raman. 2/21/2017. “Conference Report: Technology & Human Rights in the 21st Century.” Technology & Human Rights in the 21st Century. Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, 79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA: Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Full online version here.

On November 3 - 4, 2016, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School hosted a symposium that aimed to:

1. Strengthen collaboration among stakeholders working on issues at the intersection of human rights and technology and

2. Deepen our understanding of the nature of collaboration among different technical and scientific communities working in human rights.

The symposium brought together practitioners and academics from different industries, academic disciplines and professional practices. Discussion centered on three clusters of scientific and technical capacities and the communities of practice associated with each of them. These clusters are:

  • Geospatial Technology: The use of commercial remote sensing satellites, geographical information systems (GIS), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and geographical positioning satellites (GPS) and receivers to track events on earth.
     
  • Digital Networks: The use of digital platforms to link individuals in different locations working towards a common goal, such as monitoring digital evidence of human rights violations around the world. It often involves crowdsourcing the collection of data over digital networks or social computation – the analysis of data by volunteers using digital networks.
     
  • Forensic Science: The collection, preservation, examination and analysis of evidence of abuses and crimes for documentation, reconstruction, and understanding for public and court use. Among the more prominent evidential material in this area includes digital and multimedia evidence as well as corporal and other biologic evidence.  When considering the use of digital technologies, we might say that forensic science involves the recoding of material objects into binary code. This domain includes massively parallel DNA sequencing technologies as well as document scanning and data management technologies.

In their landmark 1998 book, Activists Beyond Borders, Kathryn Sikkink and Margaret Keck wrote that “by overcoming the deliberate suppression of information that sustains many abuses of power, human rights groups bring pressure to bear on those who perpetuate abuses” (Keck and Sikkink, 1998, Kindle Locations 77-78).  The Carr Center’s symposium on technology and human rights explored the ways modern human rights organization use science and technology to overcome the deliberate suppression of information.

Speakers discussed the latest advances in each of the key technologies represented at the symposium and used today by human rights organizations.

Steven Livingston and Sushma Raman co-organized the event. Livingston is Senior Fellow at the Carr Center and Professor of Media and Public Affairs and Professor of International Affairs at the George Washington University; Raman is the Executive Director of the Carr Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Full online version here.

 

Kathryn Sikkink. 2017. Evidence for Hope: Making Human Rights Work in the 21st Century, Pp. 336. Princeton University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
A history of the successes of the human rights movement and a case for why human rights work

evidenceforhopecoverEvidence for Hope makes the case that, yes, human rights work. Critics may counter that the movement is in serious jeopardy or even a questionable byproduct of Western imperialism. They point out that Guantánamo is still open, the Arab Spring protests have been crushed, and governments are cracking down on NGOs everywhere. But respected human rights expert Kathryn Sikkink draws on decades of research and fieldwork to provide a rigorous rebuttal to pessimistic doubts about human rights laws and institutions. She demonstrates that change comes slowly and as the result of struggle, but in the long term, human rights movements have been vastly effective.

Attacks on the human rights movement’s credibility are based on the faulty premise that human rights ideas emerged in North America and Europe and were imposed on developing southern nations. Starting in the 1940s, Latin American leaders and activists were actually early advocates for the international protection of human rights. Sikkink shows that activists and scholars disagree about the efficacy of human rights because they use different yardsticks to measure progress. Comparing the present to the past, she shows that genocide and violence against civilians have declined over time, while access to healthcare and education has increased dramatically. Cognitive and news biases contribute to pervasive cynicism, but Sikkink’s investigation into past and current trends indicates that human rights is not in its twilight. Instead, this is a period of vibrant activism that has made impressive improvements in human well-being.

Exploring the strategies that have led to real humanitarian gains since the middle of the twentieth century, Evidence for Hope looks at how these essential advances can be supported and sustained for decades to come.

First published in 2017.

Kathryn Sikkink is the Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her books include The Justice Cascade (Norton) and Activists beyond Borders. She lives in Cambridge, MA.

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.

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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.