Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies (CHRHS)

A Message to Our Community

June 5, 2020

Like so many individuals and organizations who care deeply about human rights, we have watched in horror as, once again, the recent deaths of Black individuals at the hands of police and white vigilantes have illuminated the violence and structural racism that permeates our society. It is both heartbreaking and imperative that we collectively witness and respond to these tragic injustices.
Racism and inequality in our society affects nearly all of the complex issues that our Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies seeks to address. Black and brown communities suffer disproportionately high number of deaths from all types of humanitarian emergencies, ranging from natural hazards like Hurricane Katrina to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Direct and structural violence against Black and brown people violate the basic principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, from protections against cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment to the right to adequate food, housing, and medical care, and, most fundamentally, the right to life. Beyond their painful impact here, the persistence of human rights violations in America make it more difficult to combat atrocities committed by governments around the world.
As our mission statement makes clear, we do not have the answers. Instead we remain committed to asking critical research questions that expose and helps us understand the nature of systemic racism and human right violations, listening to local communities directly impacted, and collaborating with the human rights and humanitarian practitioners who serve them. That begins with our own community here at Brown. We want to hear from students, faculty, staff, and alumni directly affected by racism and inequality. Please email us at chrhs@brown.edu or reach out to us on Twitter @BrownCHRHS or our Facebook Page and let us know what we as an academic center and community can offer.
As a community of human rights and humanitarian scholars and practitioners, we have a moral obligation to support all efforts to document, expose and challenge racism and all other forms of inequality. There is much work ahead of us.

Adam Levine
Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies