"I call on states to honor their obligation to protect human rights every day of the year. I call on people to hold their governments to account." - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
December 10 is the annual UN Human Rights Day, which marks the date in 1948 on which the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year's slogan, Human Rights 365, expresses the idea that every day of the year, every human being in the world should have a full range of freedoms, rights, and entitlements that are the same for all humanity.
There is no question that since 1948, many people have more rights than ever before. Yet there is still a very long way to go before every human being in the world has a full range of rights. In fact, on December 8, UNICEF declared that 2014 has been one of the worst years on record for the world's children.
To mark Human Rights Day 2014, we present a selection of Carnegie Council resources from the past year. They include discussions of children's rights and the power of online activism, and a special Centennial Roundtable from our journal, Ethics & International Affairs, on the future of human rights. This Roundtable is free online for a limited time. Don't miss it!
The Responsibility to Protect and the Rights of Children
A Conversation with Roméo Dallaire
Roméo A. Dallaire, The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, Dalhousie University; James Traub, Carnegie Council
In this inspiring conversation, Dallaire talks about his faith in the principle of R2P—"one of the great innovations of our time"—and how to go about actually implementing it; the tragedy of Rwanda; and most of all, his work to prevent the use of child soldiers. (Ethics Matter, September 2014, audio, video, TV Show, and transcript.)
It's Time for the United States to Ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Tara Collins, Ryerson University, Canada
America is one of only two countries that has not yet ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The other is Somalia. November 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of the CRC. Isn't it time the United States finally ratified it? (Carnegie Ethics Online, July 2014, article)
Advancing Human Rights in our Online Era
Hashtags and Human Rights: Activism in the Age of Twitter
Johanna Herman, Center on Human Rights in Conflict, University of East London
It's very exciting when an activist social media campaign goes viral. But what if all that energy is misdirected, or merely "slacktivism"? This essay examines five campaigns, including #bringbackourgirls and the Ice Bucket Challenge, to think about how to harness social networking to work towards real engagement and positive change. (Carnegie Ethics Online, November 2014, article)
A Conversation with David Keyes on Advancing Human Rights
David Keyes, Advancing Human Rights; Andrew Nagorski, Journalist and Author
In the Soviet era, it was difficult to alert the world of what was happening to dissidents, says David Keyes. Today, however, there's an overload of information from YouTube and other sources and the challenge is how to overcome "human rights fatigue." He explains how crowd-sourcing and other means can get the word out. (Ethics Matter, November 2014, audio, video, and transcript)
Equal Rights for Minorities and Women
A Conversation with Will Kymlicka on the Challenges of Multiculturalism
Will Kymlicka, Queen's University, Canada
From Canada to Europe, how do different societies deal with immigrant groups? How have their policies evolved and where are they headed? Will Kymlicka ably shows that the world is going through a rights revolution, demolishing the old hierarchies and gradually becoming more and more inclusive. (Ethics Matter, October 2014, audio, video, and transcript)
Modern Europe's Roma: Still Denied Social Justice
Margareta Matacheand & Jacqueline Bhabha, Harvard University
Despite sustained EU efforts to develop a vigorous Roma inclusion policy, the vast majority of the 10-12 million strong European Roma remain severely marginalized, frequent targets of violence, and mired in entrenched poverty. How can we ensure that the EU does indeed become a fierce defender of human rights for all those who live within its borders? (Carnegie Ethics Online, August 2014, article)
The Past is Another Country
Zach Dorfman, Carnegie Council
The 1964 Civil Rights Act was a triumph of one vision—one history—of one America over another. Clay Risen's The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act tells the story of the unsung heroes, and the shortcomings, of the Act. (This review essay was originally published in the Los Angeles Review of Books on May 19, 2014 and is reposted here with kind permission.)
Womenomics and Culture Change in Japan
Malli Gero, 2020 Women on Boards; Lin Kobayashi, International School of Asia, Karuizawa (ISAK); Ken Shibusawa, Commons Asset Management; Devin T. Stewart, Carnegie Council; Julia Taylor Kennedy, Carnegie Council
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a new generation of business leaders have launched a cultural shift, with many trying to increase female corporate leadership in order to promote the idea of "womenomics." In looking at Japan's business climate, gender equity in the workplace, and more, can gender quotas for leadership affect social change? (Impact: Where Business and Ethics Meet, June 2014, podcast, transcript)
Access to Health as a Human Right
Ethics on Film: Discussion of Fire in the Blood
Andreas Rekdal, Carnegie Council
With the tagline "Medicine, Monopoly, Malice," this powerful documentary tells how Western drug companies fought to keep discounted AIDS medications from reaching HIV-positive citizens of the developing world. (Ethics on Film, July 2013, article)
Corporations and Human Rights
The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil
Christine Bader, Columbia University; Masha S. Feiguinova, Carnegie New Leaders
How can corporations work to prevent human rights violations on their watch, as well as disasters like the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion? Christine Bader discusses her time at BP, where she was part of the invisible army of people inside corporations who are pushing for safer and more responsible practices. (Carnegie New Leaders, April 2014, audio, video, and transcript)
Without Human Rights We Are No Longer Human
Why Human Rights Are Called Human Rights
Alan Sussman, Bard College
No one can engage in commerce when deprived of liberty or autonomy. No one can create or imagine or love when consumed by fear. We need human rights to permit ourselves the possibility of being human. (Ethics & International Affairs, Summer 2014, Vol. 28.2, article)
Roundtable: The Future of Human Rights
This Centennial Roundtable is from Ethics & International Affairs journal, Summer 2014 (Vol. 28.2). The entire Roundtable is free online for a limited time!
The Future of the Human Rights Movement
Beth A. Simmons, Harvard University
More than 20 years have passed since the end of the Cold War, and the time when people spoke in triumphal terms of the global success of Western values is now a fading memory. The modern human rights movement is at a critical juncture in its history.
Against a World Court for Human Rights
Philip Alston, New York University
A World Court is not just an idea whose time has not yet come. The very idea fundamentally misconceives the nature of the challenges confronting an international community dedicated to eliminating major human rights violations. See also this EIA interview with Philip Alston.
What Future for Human Rights?
James W. Nickel, University of Miami
The field of human rights covers many different beliefs, norms, institutions, and activities, and these may well have different futures. Some may flourish while others wither—along with the social movements that support them.
State Sovereignty and International Human Rights
Jack Donnelly, University of Denver
An increasingly robust international politics of human rights will provide valuable support to domestic advocates, help to impede backsliding, and in at least a few cases decisively tip the balance in favor of human rights at moments of transition.
The Future of Human Rights: A View from the United Nations
Andrew Gilmour, United Nations
It is with respect to human rights that the UN has experienced some of its greatest shortcomings. The new "Rights up Front" plan may help remedy that deficiency.