Anniversaries are always a great time to reflect on the past and to examine opportunities for the future. This Monday marked the 64-year anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Which is why we at the Harvard Human Rights Journal chose this Monday, December 10, to launch our new Online Symposium examining the concept of the ‘broad-based activist movement’ and what it means for human rights. Entitled “Avoiding the Trap,” the Symposium showcases the work of several notable human rights academics as they wrestle with three questions:
1. Is it possible to have a broad-based activist movement that is global in scope and sufficiently informed of the issues? If so, how do we build such a movement?
2. Is there a necessary trade-off between the nuance of a human rights situation and public support for its remedy? If so, where is that trade-off located and how should it be addressed?
3. How do we build a new ‘anti-atrocity constituency’ without falling into the trap of a Savage-Victim-Savior mentality?
Our contributors each provide their own take on these questions, with answers ranging from systematic prescriptions to deeply personal reflections, from a close examination of the recent Kony 2012 debate to insightful analysis of such expansive concepts as “global civil society” and the “glamour” of human rights. As someone who read and re-read these pieces prior to publication, I found myself connecting with them intellectually and at times even emotionally. Each piece challenges us to re-examine some of our own ideas on how to solve some of the Big Issues: atrocities, massive violence, core violations of international law.
The Harvard Human Rights Journal is proud to share these original pieces of human rights scholarship, which we hope you will find insightful and thought-provoking. The Symposium can be found at the Harvard Human Rights Journal website.