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The State of Human Rights in 2024
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM ET


Are global human rights in peril? In a world of intensifying regional conflicts, rising authoritarianism, and climate breakdown, it may seem so. At the same time, the language and instruments of human rights continue to empower activists, censure tyrannical governments, and offer hope to the marginalized. In the field of human rights and global justice, there are as many reasons to be optimistic as to be fearful.

With crises ongoing in Gaza, Ukraine, and Sudan, what potency does the concept of human rights hold 2024? Can they continue to liberate and protect, or are they an archaic tool of 20th century policymaking? What role do human rights NGOs have in holding governments and other powerful agents to account? Join Perry World House as Philip Alston, former UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, provides a critical overview of the state of human rights today.

The Perry World House Global Justice and Human Rights Program is supported by a generous gift from the Thakore family.


Philip Alston is John Norton Pomeroy professor of law at New York University Law School. He was editor-in-chief of the European Journal of International Law from 1996 to 2007 and co-founder of the European Society of International Law. He has published extensively, and a new edition of his textbook on international human rights law will be published in 2024. He has held various United Nations (UN) posts, including UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights (2014-2020), special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions (2004-10), chairperson of the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (1991-98), independent expert on reform of the UN human rights treaty body system (1989-97), and special advisor to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Millennium Development Goals (2004-07). He was also a member of the UN Security Council Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic, and of the Independent International Commission on Kyrgyzstan.


Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 to 2018. He was awarded the Stockholm Prize for human rights in 2015 and the Tulip Prize in 2018. He is currently the President and CEO of the International Peace Institute and Perry World House Professor of the Practice of Law and Human Rights at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2019, Al Hussein was appointed a member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working for peace, justice, and human rights, founded by Nelson Mandela. He served twice as Jordan’s ambassador to the United Nations (in New York) and once as Jordan’s ambassador to the United States. In January 2014, he served as president of the UN Security Council and earlier, in 2002, was elected the first president of the governing body of the International Criminal Court (ICC) -- guiding the court's growth in its first three years from 2002 to 2005. He also represented Jordan twice before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). From 1994 to 1996, he served as a UN civilian peacekeeper with UNPROFOR. Al Hussein holds degrees from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Cambridge.