Playlist: Policy Points

Susan Waltz: New website offers guide to human rights history

October 17, 2013 0:02:02
Kaltura Video

Susan Waltz is a Ford School faculty member and practitioner in the field of human rights policy.


Human rights standards have expanded pretty dramatically over the last several decades, and so we really want to share the stories of these developments. We decided to actually do a website so that we could make the material a lot more accessible to a lot more people. And we started off thinking about professors and students, but then decided it was really important to bring the material to researchers and the next generation of human rights advocates. 
I'm really inspired by the rising generation. I love their energy. I love their passion for social justice. The first generation of human rights advocates, there's been a lot of time and energy trying to conceptualize and identify the human rights problems and their work really resulted in the standards that we've got. The rising generation, one of their core tasks is going to be to ensure that those standards are fully implemented and that when they are violated by leaders that those leaders are held to account. 
There's no shortage of human rights problems, but if you stand back and think about it, we're getting a lot more information all the time and in real time so our perceptions of what's going on have changed a little bit and at the same time there's been some evolution in our sensibilities.  That said, there have been changes in both directions, so in the 1990s, at the close of the Cold War, we saw a deterioration of human rights performance in a lot of African countries, not all of them because South Africa at that time was actually putting an end to Apartheid and in Latin America, across the other hemisphere, things were improving dramatically; so, bottom line is really a mixed bag. 
So we are hoping that this will be a website that will be useful not only to students and researched, but will also be useful to human rights advocates who are just newly joining the conversation. It will help them see what has come before.