April 2016


Roma Slavery: The Case for Reparations

Foreign Policy in Focus

After years of neglect or outright dismissal, movements calling for reparations for historical injustices have resurfaced with renewed vigor. Some of these movements are defined by race or ethnicity, others by religion, gender, social class or caste. They span a multiplicity of national or regional affiliations.

Participants at the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, for instance, pressed governments for substantial social and economic public investment in programs that target the needs and rights of harmed communities. In 2014, Ta Nehisi Coates wrote an influential article in The Atlantic revitalizing calls for reparations in the United States for the descendants of slaves. In 2015 at an Oxford Union debate, Shashi Taroor argued that Britain should pay reparations to India, a call that went viral in India itself. Those interested in Roma slavery, meanwhile, have prioritized memorialization through symbolic remedies, including public monuments, apologies, commemorative days, or history books. [Full article.]



March 2016


Zika: Starting Over with Each New Public Health Emergency?

Feminism & Psychology

Every time there is a new public health emergency, it seems we have to re-learn the same old lessons. Zika is now forcing us to face some of the lessons we might have learned from Ebola. For example, Ebola showed us so clearly that outbreaks of disease have differential effects on different populations. An epidemic of any disease highlights, like a social x-ray, those who are vulnerable because of poverty, gender, race, age, and other aspects of identity. Individuals who live under any combination of these marginalizing conditions may be invisible in society much of the time, but when epidemics arise, their collective vulnerability to ill health, and the risk this poses to the rest of society, are illuminated in sharp relief.  The connections between poverty and gender discrimination could not be clearer in the aftermath of Zika. [Full article.]


Poor Reintegration Leaves India’s Rescued Child Workers At Risk


MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – India’s strategy for rescuing and reintegrating child victims of labour trafficking is marred by poor coordination, a lack of accountability and inadequate resources that can leave children at risk of further harm, Harvard researchers say.

There must be a comprehensive, sustained effort to address these issues, rather than the current short-term approach to return children to the same circumstances that led to their trafficking in the first place, the researchers said in a report released this week. [Full article]



History Slam Episode Eighty: Human Rights Frameworks for Health and Why They Matter

“Before I had my two children, I had a miscarriage.” This is how Alicia Yamin starts her new book Power, Suffering, and the Struggle for Dignity: Human Rights Frameworks for Health and Why They Matter. By introducing the book in such a personal manner, Yamin, the Policy Director of the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, prepares the reader for what is to follow. In interweaving personal stories, Yamin demonstrates how health should be situated as a human right and, in doing so, represents a major turning point in the struggle for dignity. [Full article with podcast]


February 2016


Saúde, direitos humanos e zika

Huffington Post Brazil

This article is a translation of a blog written by Professor Alicia Yamin concerning the need to respond to the zika virus outbreak using a multifaceted response that considers the social and political context in which such incidences occur. The article has also been reproduced in the US version of the Huffington Post. Full blog (Portuguese).


Health, Human Rights and the Zika Virus

Huffington Post

To fight Zika, we must fight poverty and powerlessness and ensure that women enjoy their rights.

Health ministers throughout Latin America have announced they will unite to stop the alarming spread of the Zika virus. Similarly, the World Health Organization has acted with uncharacteristic haste to curb this virus, of which the world presently knows very little. But there is much we do know about containing Zika’s impact, because it is, yet again, a disease of poverty and disempowerment. Therefore, it will take more than health ministers and agencies to overcome it. Full blog post.

This Huffington Post article originally appeared on the website of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University.


Incubator Hosts Discussion on Human Rights

Incubator at Harvard University

On Tuesday, January 26, 2016, the Incubator welcomed invited guests and discussants to a roundtable celebration of the new book, Power, Suffering, and the Struggle for Dignity: Human Rights Frameworks for Health and Why They Matter, by human rights lawyer Alicia Ely Yamin. Yamin is lecturer on law and global health, and director of the JD/MPH program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), as well as policy director at the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, and Global Fellow of the Centre on Law & Social Transformation, in Bergen, Norway. Her new book uses stories to invite a diverse audience—students, legal and public health practitioners, and interested lay readers—to explore what a human rights framework implies, the potential for social transformation it entails, and the impact human rights-based approaches (HRBAs) have had on people’s lives and health outcomes. [Full article.]

alicia incubator

Combatir el zika tratando solo de erradicar al mosquito no funcionará

El Pais

Policy Director Alicia Yamin spoke with Spain’s El Pais newspaper on the need for a response to the zika virus outbreak that goes well beyond medical interventions to take account of the social and political contexts in which such outbreaks occur. In Spanish. Full interview.



January 2016


“ISIS is a modern phenomenon; it is really a new religion”

Today's Zaman

In an exclusive interview with Today’s Zaman, Professor Jessica Stern shared her insights on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Stern states that “for Baghdadi and ISIS, the caliphate is here and now,” suggesting that ISIS counts the re-establishment of the caliphate as an essential step leading up to the apocalypse. “Although many jihadi groups are somewhat apocalyptic, ISIS is much more focused on an end times narrative and on the imminence of the prophesied final battle,” she argues. [Full article]


Studying the Kumbh Mela from Many Perspectives

Harvard South Asia InstituteHarvard Global Health Institute

What happens when tens of millions of people form a temporary city on the banks of a holy river? In 2013, a team from Harvard set out to answer this question, and found that there is much more than meets the eye at the Kumbh Mela.

On Monday, January 18, the Harvard South Asia Institute (SAI) launched the book and exhibition Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity in Mumbai at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in partnership with the Asia Society India Centre and the Harvard Club of Mumbai. The event drew a crowd of more than 200 people, including Harvard alumni, community members, government officials, students, and members of the public. [Full article.]


AP INVESTIGATION: Feds’ Failures Imperil Migrant Children

Washington Times

Capture-WashingtonTimesAs tens of thousands of children fleeing violence in Central America crossed the border in search of safe harbor, overwhelmed U.S. officials weakened child protection policies, placing some young migrants in homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay, an Associated Press investigation has found. [Full article.]


When Water Is Safer Than Land

Harvard Magazine

The jubilation that accompanied the flowering of the Arab Spring is long gone as its deadly aftermath—in Libya, Syria, and elsewhere—spirals into transcontinental turmoil. We face the prospect of a grim winter. Hundreds of thousands of desperate people in flight from those indiscriminate civil wars (not to mention the chaos in Iraq and Yemen, the turmoil in parts of Africa, and the ethnic oppression in Myanmar) face arduous hurdles in search of safety and security in Europe and elsewhere, while potential hosts negotiate rising xenophobia (intensified by the November attacks in Paris) and increasing desperation in the face of apparently unending need caused by the continuing migrant arrivals. [Full article.]

Spencer Platt/Getty

December 2015


Experts Urge Importance of Mental Health in Disaster Situations

Express Tribune/international New York Times

KARACHI: Gun shots, explosions and terrorist attacks break you or make you. On December 16, 2014, 147 innocent people lost their lives but the ones lucky enough to survive are haunted by the trauma they faced that day.

To remember the deceased and to save the ones who survived an event was organised by the Aman Foundation, in collaboration with Harvard South Asia Initiative on ‘Mental Health in Disaster Response’. Full article.

Capture-Express Tribune-INYT

Call for rapid response to disasters, APS-like attacks

News International

Speakers at a seminar on Wednesday on mental health response to catastrophes stressed the need for a rapid response to disasters and other tragic incidents to help the survivors overcome the effects of trauma. (Full article.)


November 2015


HKS PolicyCast: Syrian Refugees Already Faced Difficulty to Reach the US

Boston Globe

In this podcast Harvard FXB Center research director Jacqueline Bhabha explains long and difficult process the United States employs to vet and resettle asylum seekers and discusses steps that can be taken to prevent such massive refugee outflows, as in the case of Syria, in the first place. This piece from the Boston Globe contains a link to the full audio as well as a text excerpt.



Black Comedy Uncovers Dark Place in Romanian History

Radu Jude scored the biggest success for Romanian filmmaking this year, when the costume drama Aferim! earned him the Silver Bear for best director at the Berlin International Film Festival. Full article


October 2015


Measuring The Millennium Development Goals: Halting The Spread Of AIDS And Malaria

Fast Company

Of all the Millennium Development Goals agreed by world leaders in the year 2000, the sixth goal has had arguably the most dramatic results. It aims to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, achieve universal access to AIDS treatment, and halt malaria and other serious diseases like tuberculosis. Fifteen yeas later, the world has done exactly that, and more. Full article.


September 2015


‘Aferim!,’ an Oscar Contender, Explores the Enslavement of the Roma

New York Times

BUCHAREST, Romania — The slow black-and-white scenes in which two horsemen ride through vast, bleak landscapes in Radu Jude’s latest movie, “Aferim!,” could have come straight out of a classic American western, as could the central theme of injustice. Yet the movie is set in 19th-century Wallachia, part of modern-day Romania, where for almost 500 years ending in 1856, the Roma (or Gypsies, as they have been more commonly known) were viewed as property to be bought and sold. Full article.


August 2015


Kumbh Mela Book Launch in Deli

Harvard South Asia Institute

On Monday, August 17, the Harvard South Asia Institute launched the Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity book and exhibition in Delhi, India. Shri Akhilesh Yadav, Honorable Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, was on hand to launch the book with Harvard faculty, to a crowd of over 250 people at the Oberoi Hotel. Full article.



At a Mass Pilgrimage in India, a New Effort to Track Disease in Real Time

Global Post

NASHIK, India — A wide-angle photograph hangs in the lobby of my hotel in this ancient city in western India. It’s of Nashik at night during a religious festival called the Kumbh Mela, surrounded by hills, with brightly lit streets, houses and temples. Full article.


May 2015


Celebrating Romani Resistance Day

Foreign Policy in Focus

A growing movement among Roma activists looks to celebrate their ancestors’ resistance to persecution — and to pick up where they left off. Full article.


Following Earthquakes, Building a More Resilient Nepal

Harvard TH Chan News

Like others before him, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health student Kai Hsiao, MPH ’15, predicted that a major earthquake in Nepal was inevitable, and that the health care needs in the aftermath of such a disaster would be overwhelming. Full article.


April 2015


Why We Should Care About Adoption Rehoming

Social Work Helper

“A sick thing”. “Human trafficking in children”. “A gaping loophole with life threatening outcomes”. These are just few of the ways experts, legislators and judges have named unregulated private transfers of child custody, a practice referred to as re-homing. Full article.


After Nepal Quake, Harvard Responds

Harvard Gazette

With Nepal struggling to deal with the enormous calamity caused by the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck north of Kathmandu Saturday, Harvard is mobilizing to help with technical and medical assistance and reaching out to faculty, staff, and students visiting the region. Full article.


A Powerful Convergence: Students, Researchers, Share Lessons from Kumbh Mela

Harvard Gazette

Every 12 years, where the Ganges meets the Yamuna River in Allahabad, India, a city of millions appears, made entirely of just six things: canvas, corrugated metal, bamboo, nails, screws, and rope. Full article.


Arkansas Becomes Fifth State to Regulate Re-Homing…

The Chronicle of Social Change

The little girl was only five years old when her adoptive parents decided she had to leave. Disillusioned by what they saw as an adoption gone awry, they gave the child away to a friend, bypassing child welfare authorities. Full article.


UNICEF Child Protection Chief at Harvard Chan School

US Fund for UNICEF

Last Friday, Susan Bissell, UNICEF’s chief of child protection, spoke to a room teeming with students from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, the Harvard Kennedy School, the Harvard Law School, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.. Full article


March 2015


A Siren Call to Action

Harvard Gazette

How and why the Islamic State is finding avid converts among the West’s middle class. With FXB Fellow Jessica Stern. Full article


India’s Bonded Labourers: One Brick at a Time

The Economist

“MANY of India’s “modern slaves” labour in appalling conditions in brick kilns or breaking stones in quarries…”


January 2015


The Syrian Refugee Crisis

New York Times

Letter to the Editor by FXB fellows Josyann Abisaab, Satchit Balsari, and Kathleen Hamill

G. Beals/UNHCR