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
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

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.

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.

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. 

Dara Kay Cohen and Valerie M. Hudson. 12/16/2016. “Women’s Rights Are a National Security Issue.” The New York Times .Abstract
Dara Key Cohen's Op-Ed published in the New York Times. 

"The Trump transition team asked the State Department last week to submit details of programs and jobs that focus on promoting gender equality. Maybe it’s for benign purposes — or better, a signal that the administration wants to make women’s empowerment a cornerstone of its foreign policy. But this seems unlikely, to put it mildly, given that such a commitment was absent from Donald J. Trump’s campaign, and alongside Mr. Trump’s vow to defund Planned Parenthood.

Whatever the reason for their request, Mr. Trump and Rex W. Tillerson, his pick for secretary of state, should remember that women’s rights are tied directly to national security. The State Department’s gender equality programs are not just politically correct fluff — they deal with matters of life and death, like rape during war, genital cutting, forced marriage and access to education. The State Department provides essential funding to combat these problems."

Read the full Op-Ed in the New York Times

Mathias Risse. 12/11/2019. “From Unalienable Rights to Membership Rights in the World Society.” Carr Center Discussion Paper Series (2019-009).Abstract

The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy launched an ambitious initiative in the fall of 2019 to advance the renewal of rights and responsibilities in the United States. The initiative aims to develop research and policy recommendations around six broad themes of concern: democratic process; due process of law; equal protection; freedom of speech, religion, and association; human sustainability; and privacy.

In the most recent Carr Center Discussion Paper, Mathias Risse looks at the Pompeo Commission as a jumping off point to reexamine the distinction between natural law, natural rights, and human rights in the modern day.

Download the full paper

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.

Mike Pompeo Is Unfit to Lead the CIA If He Doesn't Reject Torture
Alberto Mora. 1/12/2017. “Mike Pompeo Is Unfit to Lead the CIA If He Doesn't Reject Torture.” The Guardian .Abstract
Article in The Guardian by Carr Center Senior Fellow Alberto Mora.

"Among the flurry of confirmation hearings happening this week in the Senate, one in particular will signal whether President-to-be Donald Trump and his administration are, indeed, serious about restoring the failed and discredited Bush-era torture policy.

Trump’s pick for CIA chief, the US representative Mike Pompeo, will face the Senate intelligence committee and no doubt will be asked about his past support for cruelty. If he fails to renounce torture at his hearing, the Senate should deem Pompeo unfit for the office and vote down his nomination.

I know what’s at stake from my own experience. I was the navy’s chief lawyer when, in 2002, I learned that detainees held at Guantánamo were being subjected to cruel and unlawful interrogation practices. This wasn’t a case of “bad apples” – it was a case of officials at the highest levels of government choosing to radically reinterpret, distort or violate the law so as to knowingly apply torture. That can’t happen again."

Read the full Op-Ed in The Guardian.

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.

Law Restricts Trump on Torture - Unless He Ignores It
Alberto Mora. 1/27/2017. “Law Restricts Trump on Torture - Unless He Ignores It.” Deutsche Welle.Abstract
New article in Deutsche Welle featuring Carr Center Senior Fellow Alberto Mora.

Donald Trump has threatened to make good on his campaign pledge to bring back waterboarding and forms of torture "a hell of a lot worse." That would violate international and US law, of course, but could he do it anyway?

There was a sense that the US was coming to grips with its sins in December 2014, when the Senate completed its report on CIA torture under President George W. Bush in the years following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Months later, on June 16, 2015, when more than 20 Senate Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in a 78-21 vote to ban torture once and for all, there was a sense that the country was even moving forward. There would be no more "rectal feeding" of prisoners in the CIA's secret interrogation centers, no more threats to kill inmates' children or parents, no more people killed by hypothermia after spending hours forced into stress positions on frigid concrete. But 230 miles (385 kilometers) from the US Capitol on that very same June afternoon in 2015, a reality television host was kicking off a scorched-earth campaign at the New York City tower he had named for himself. And in 2017 the United States finds itself debating the limits of official cruelty all over again - though not necessarily the long-settled legality.

"Torture under international law is categorically prohibited under all circumstances," said Alberto Mora, the Navy's general counsel during the Bush administration and a leading Defense Department opponent of the practices euphemistically referred to as "enhanced interrogation." "This is what's called a nonderogable law, meaning that there is no set of circumstances or extenuating circumstance which would justify the application of torture."

Read the full article.