Center for International Human Rights

Center for International Human Rights

                                                                          CIHR Theme for 2022-2023                                                       

Human Dignity in the Security Sector: Challenges and Prospects

The term Security Sector refers to all institutions and structures whose mission is to protect society from crime, disorder and other forms of violence. It includes law enforcement agencies, intelligence services, and the armed forces, as well as their civilian staff, training establishments and logistical services.

Security Sector institutions bear the responsibility to protect and defend their nations’ populations. While performing their tasks of enforcing laws and regulations, these agencies are expected to be held accountable to their chain of command, as well as to the people whom they are supposed to serve. Respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law constitutes a key component in the effort to ensure that the security sector is responsive to public needs and provides security as a public good. When security sector institutions perform poorly, societal trust erodes with adverse repercussions for the well-being of societies and their populations.

During the 2022-2023 academic year, the Center for International Human Rights will critically examine some of the main challenges facing the security sector, challenges associated with governance, transparency and conduct-related issues that undermine the quest for human dignity and weaken the prospect for inclusive social orders. Here are some of the focal issues and questions that our activities will seek to address:

  • With the growing convergence between law enforcement and military operations, what is/are the applicable normative and legal framework(s) and how should tensions between human rights law and humanitarian law be addressed?
  • What are the main challenges in advancing effective training in human rights and humanitarian norms in the security sector? How can these be addressed?
  • What are the main obstacles in advancing accountability for human rights and humanitarian law violations? How can these be addressed?
  • What are some of the best practices in addressing sexual and gender-based violence?
  • What can governments learn from international institutions in advancing security sector reform?

Transatlantic Forum Series Events and Accompanying Papers

"Making a Rioter: Social Media's Role in Planning and Inciting Civil Unrest and Violent Protests"
Dr. Alexander Heinze -- October 26, 2021
"Freedom from Systemic Official Corruption: a Human Right?"
Dr. Andrew Spalding -- November 10, 2021
"Providing Security in the 21st Century: a Human Rights Challenge?"
Dr. Anneke Petzsche -- December 1, 2021
(Un-)knowing the Human in Biometric Surveillance: Thoughts on Uncertainty, Ignorance and Rights"
Dr. Matthias Weinroth -- March 23, 2022
"Sexual and Gender-Based Violence: A Threat to Women's Rights and Gender Equality"
Jelena Pia-Comella -- April 27, 2022

CIHR Theme for 2021-2022

Religion, Secularism and Human Rights

The relation between religion and human rights constitutes a highly complex and controversial topic. On the one hand, religion has always posed a challenge to claims that human rights constitute a universal discourse of human emancipation; the global reach of religious fundamentalism, especially, but not exclusively, in the context of the 'global war on terror' has accentuated this challenge in many issue areas, including women’s rights, minority rights, freedom to choose one’s own religion, civic participation, the debate on non-traditional family values, and demands for social justice. On the other hand, there is a growing contingent of people who argue that the realm of human rights has been dominated by western ideas and concepts. Some analysts have even argued that the human rights discourse is reflective of ‘secular fundamentalism’ and, as a result, it has sought to marginalize religious-based alternative discourses seeking justice and inclusive social orders. In selecting “Religion, Secularism, and Human Rights” as our theme for the 2021-2022 academic year, the CIHR aims to explore this complex topic from a variety of angles ranging from looking at country-specific case studies, to comparing regional perspectives on religion/secularism, and to taking a more philosophical approach in addressing the nature and use/abuse of religious discourses and their potential effects on the adherence to human rights norms and standards. This will be done through a combination of panel discussions and conversation series events with subject matter experts, religious scholars, and human rights advocates, as well as through internally conducted research projects over the course of the coming year.

Details on the program of activities to follow.