HKS Affiliated Authors

Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights, Global Affairs and Philosophy


In his recent discussion paper, Mathias Risse reflects on the 2019 protests in Chile from a a standpoint of political theory and the human rights movement.

This paper was written in preparation for a talk at the Catholic University of Chile (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile) in December 2019. Risse was invited to reflect on the widespread and often violent protests that had occurred in Chile during the last three months of 2019 from a standpoint of political theory and the human rights movement. Key themes in this paper include the necessary conditions for the legitimacy of a government and the role of human rights (and the equal or unequal value that such rights may have for different people) in that context; a distinction between policy-based and legitimacy/justice-based protests and one between persuasive and non-persuasive means of protest, and how they apply to highly economically unequal societies in general and to the situation in Chile in particular; some considerations directed at protesters as they think about expanding non-persuasive means of protest to include destruction and violence; some considerations exploring the responsibilities of the government of Chile under these circumstances; and finally some thoughts drawing on the adaptive-leadership approach on current challenges for Chilean politics. 


Mathias Risse. 2/28/2020. “Human Rights and Social Order: Philosophical, Practical, and Public Policy Dimensions.” Cambridge, MA: Harvard Kennedy School.