Articles

Climate Change Induced Displacement: Leveraging Transnational Advocacy Networks to Address Operational Gaps
Steven Livingston and Joseph Guay. 2/21/2017. “Climate Change Induced Displacement: Leveraging Transnational Advocacy Networks to Address Operational Gaps.” UNHCR .Abstract
An article on climate change and induced displacement, by Carr Center's Senior Fellow Steven Livingston and Joseph Guay. 

According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, “Few aspects of the human endeavor…are isolated from possible impacts in a changing climate. The interconnectedness of the Earth system makes it impossible to draw a confined boundary around climate change impact, adaptations, and vulnerability.”1 This includes human population displacements, which amounted to a staggering 51.2 million refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced people (IDPs) in 2013.2

Unfortunately, as the frequency, duration, and intensity of extreme events affecting populations are on the rise, the humanitarian aid community is stretched thin in the face of multiple complex emergencies and protracted challenges around the world

Read the full post.

This Is What Will Happen If Trump Brings Back Secret Prisons
Kathryn Sikkink and Avery Schmitt. 2/10/2017. “This Is What Will Happen If Trump Brings Back Secret Prisons.” The Washington Post .Abstract
An analysis, in The Washington Post, from Carr Center's Kathryn Sikkink and research fellow Avery Schmitt.

"Amid the flurry of executive orders issued by President Trump during his first week in office, one remains a work in progress. A draft version of the executive order on the “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants” has been leaked. It is a complex document with many provisions — all appeared designed to make it possible for the Trump administration to return to Bush policy of secret kidnapping, detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists.

Although the Trump administration has publicly backed away from some aspects of the order, Trump’s decision to appoint Gina Haspel — who has been accused of running one of the Bush era secret prisons that tortured inmates — as deputy head of the CIA suggests that Trump continues to be interested in returning to past practices. The mixed signals coming from the administration mean that it is still important to explain what a return of the secret prison system might mean."

Full article at The Washington Post. 

Trump Repeats Sad History on Immigration
Kathryn Sikkink. 2/6/2017. “Trump Repeats Sad History on Immigration.” SC Times.Abstract
Trump repeats sad history on immigration by Carr Center's Kathryn Sikkink.

"When I was growing in St. Cloud in the 1960s and 1970s, I was already dimly aware that we were an immigrant community.

In particular, I knew the parents and grandparents of many of my schoolmates had come from Germany because I was always in the homeroom full of the kids with German last names — the Schmidts, Schneiders, and Schwartzs. A number of these students came from poor farms outside town. They had to be up very early in the morning before school to help on the farm, before the long bus trip to school, and they came to homeroom, the first class of the day, smelling like the barn.

If I could, I would apologize to those students today for my cruel remarks behind their backs; I, who had the luxury of spending too long every morning in the bathroom getting ready for school (according to my older brother).

Many of the immigrant families in St. Cloud were Catholic, not only from Germany, but from Poland and Ireland. To this day, Census figures show that well over half of the individuals in the St. Cloud metropolitan area trace their ancestry to those three countries."

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.

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.

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.

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.

Women’s Rights Are a National Security Issue
Dara Kay Cohen and Valerie M. Hudson. 12/16/2016. “Women’s Rights Are a National Security Issue.” The New York Times . See full text.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

Trump

These GOP Foreign Policy Pros Are Wary of Working for Trump

November 17, 2016

Members of the conservative foreign policy intelligentsia, who spent the eight long years of the Obama administration biding their time at think tanks and universities, finally have a shot at upper level administration jobs

But now that those coveted Washington positions as deputy secretaries, assistant secretaries, and the like are finally open, many are racked with new anxiety: Is it a good idea to serve in a Trump administration if you disagree deeply with Donald Trump?...

“It’s not good,” said Alberto Mora, a senior fellow at the ...

Read more about These GOP Foreign Policy Pros Are Wary of Working for Trump
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

Adding Human Rights Punch to the New Lex Mercatoria: The Impact of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights on Commercial Legal Practice
John Ruggie. 10/13/2015. “Adding Human Rights Punch to the New Lex Mercatoria: The Impact of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights on Commercial Legal Practice.” Journal of International Dispute Settlement, 6, 3, Pp. 455–461. See full text.Abstract
Adding Human Rights Punch to the New Lex Mercatoria: The Impact of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights on Commercial Legal Practice:

 

In July 2015, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, otherwise known as FIFA, announced that as a prominent part of its new reforms, it will ‘recognise the provisions of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (‘GPs’)1 and will make it compulsory for both contractual partners and those within the supply chain to comply with these provisions’.

​​​​​​​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.

Karadzic verdict is a victory for civilization
John Shattuck. 3/26/2016. “Karadzic verdict is a victory for civilization.” The Boston Globe. See full text.Abstract
See latest 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."

Pages