Evidence for Hope: Making Human Rights Work in the 21st Century
Date: Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Time: 6:15 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Location: 19 University Place
● Kathryn Sikkink, Author of Evidence for Hope: Making Human Rights Work in the 21st Century, Ryan Family Professor for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
● While many academics and media sources maintain a negative attitude about human rights, movements are making more progress than many would believe.
● Evidence of improvement in human rights can be shown with statistically analyzed data.
● To continue human rights work, one must maintain a positive attitude, learn from the data collected from past movements, and stay motivated to create change.
The event can be viewed at: http://as.nyu.edu/ir/events/spring-2018/sikkink20170214.html
Kathryn Sikkink, author of Evidence for Hope: Making Human Rights Work in the 21st Century, focused her talk on the second half of her book. She discussed the efficacy of human rights movements and whether human rights work brings about concrete change in people’s lives.
Sikkink acknowledged the popular pessimism surrounding human rights movements, even from figures like United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon. She presented data that shows few people think the world is getting better or staying the same.
But Sikkink, who approaches human rights from the perspective of a social scientist, presents an optimistic picture of human rights worldwide. Presenting data and analyses that point to a betterment of society, Sikkink said gender equality, sexuality, education, and life expectancy have improved worldwide. She further noted a decrease in war deaths, genocide, politicide, use of the death penalty, and undernourishment, as well as an increase in public support for same-sex marriage.
However, Sikkink acknowledged that many developing countries have limited or incomplete data surrounding many issues, especially women’s rights.
Sikkink also stressed that to further human rights, one must acknowledge the approaches that have prevailed rather than lamenting that nothing has been achieved. While a number of inherent human biases tend to make people focus on the negative outcomes of human rights, Sikkink argued that it is important to adjust views with solid data to create more effective change.
Report by: Renee Firth, Event Reporter. Edited by Shengdun Hua.