Harvard Kennedy School


Kathryn Sikkink: Making Human Rights Work in the 21st Century


Harvard Kennedy School
Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy, HKS; Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor, Radcliffe

Kathryn Sikkink is the Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy at HKS and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.Sikkink works on international norms and institutions, transnational advocacy networks, the impact of human rights law and policies, and transitional justice. Her publications include The Justice Cascade: How Human Rights Prosecutions are Changing World Politics (awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Center Book Award, and the WOLA/Duke University Award); Mixed Signals: U.S. Human Rights Policy and Latin America; Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics (co-authored with Margaret Keck and awarded the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas for Improving World Order, and the ISA Chadwick Alger Award for Best Book in the area of International Organizations); and The Persistent Power of Human Rights: From Commitment to Compliance, (co-edited with Thomas Risse and Stephen Ropp). She holds an MA and Ph.D. from Columbia University. Sikkink has been a Fulbright Scholar in Argentina and a Guggenheim fellow. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the editorial board of the International Studies Quarterly, International Organization, and the American Political Science Review.

Selected Publications

Academic Journal/Scholarly Articles

  • Clark, Ann Marie, and Kathryn Sikkink. "Response to David L. Richards." Human Rights Quarterly 38.2 (May 2016): 493-496.
  • Pham, Phuong Ngoc, Patrick Vinck, Bridget Marchesi, Doug Johnson, Peter J. Dixon, and Kathryn Sikkink. "Evaluating Transitional Justice: The Role of Multi-Level Mixed Methods Datasets and the Colombia Reparation Program for War Victims." Transitional Justice Review 1.4 (March 2016): 3.
  • Sikkink, Kathryn. "Latin America's Protagonist Role in Human Rights." Sur International Journal on Human Rights, English ed. 12.22 (December 2015): 207-219.

Outside Professional Activities

Transparent Engagement

Harvard Kennedy School is proud of its energetic involvement in the world. To better understand how to solve public problems by improving policy and leadership, we engage directly with policymakers, public leaders, governments, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses whose activities affect those problems. However, we recognize that such engagement can raise questions about perceived and potential conflicts of interest, so we disclose publicly the key professional activities of our faculty outside the Kennedy School.

Outside Professional Activities For Kathryn Sikkink

Professor Sikkink and her husband Doug Johnson, Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, were asked by the Open Society Institute to organize and teach a two-week training course in June 2014 for public policy students who then went on to do internships at OSI partner organizations.

During academic year 2014-2015, Professor Sikkink and Douglas Johnson, Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, also conducted research and produced an evaluation of the work of the Colombian government’s reparation program. The evaluation was financed by the Agency for International Development (AID).

Professor Sikkink serves as an international member of the Board of Directors (Asamblea General) for Dejusticia, a Colombia-based research and advocacy organization dedicated to the strengthening of the rule of law and the promotion of social justice and human rights in Colombia and the Global South. She does not receive any payment or salary for her work on the Board of Directors, nor does the organization sponsor her research financially; she attends one board meeting a year, either via Skype or in person in Bogota, Colombia, when possible. In this capacity, she draws on her expertise in international human rights and the role of non-governmental organization in the promotion of human rights. In 2017, she devoted 2 days to this activity -- one to prepare and read materials for the annual meeting and the second to participate (via Skype) in the board meeting. While the organization does not financially sponsors or support her research, As a human rights research organization, Dejusticia is very interested in the results of her research. She has interviewed Dejusticia leaders for her research, participated in their workshops from time to time, and they are currently assisting her in arranging the Spanish translation of her forthcoming book (Evidence for Hope: Making Human Rights Work in the 21st Century). She is paying for the Spanish translation, but they have helped arrange the translator, and the e-book in Spanish will be available on their website.

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