U.S.-Trained Human Rights Abusers

Obama should end the institutional impunity to which American commanders and U.S. military allies have become accustomed.

Human Rights City Toolkit

Transform social awareness in your city to address human rights issues on a local level.

Naval Gazing

Before the Chinese show up off the coast of California for some imperial quid pro quo, the United States should wake up, sign the Law of the Sea, and actually abide by its provisions.

Don’t Move On Yet

Let’s say that President Barack Obama appointed me as his Karl Rove. My advice: Don’t move on.

Turning European

With the United States on the verge of another Great Depression, the Know-Nothing opposition to the Obama administration should be worried that we are about to slip into the Third World.

Book Event: Gar Alperovitz and Marc Raskin

In the United States, many Americans assume they have certain liberties and rights as citizens: freedom of speech, freedom of worship; the right to pursue happiness and transcend social class.

Gar Alperovitz, a professor of political economy at the University of Maryland, and Marc Raskin, co-founder of the Institute for Policy Studies, both recently co-authored books that question these assumptions. Over the past few decades, they argue, freedoms U.S. citizens take for granted have slowly eroded.

Join us for a stimulating discussion on how this happened and where we can go from here.

About Raskin’s  Four Freedoms Under Seige: "FDR’s Four Freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear — were presented to the American people in his 1941 State of the Union address, and they became the inspiration for a second bill of rights, extending the New Deal and guaranteeing work, housing, medical care, and education. Although the bill never was adopted in a legal sense in this country, its principles pervaded the political landscape for an entire generation, including the War on Poverty and the Great Society reforms of the 1960s. Furthermore, the ideas expressed in the Four Freedoms speech inspired the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But since the late 1970s and early 1980s, these freedoms have been under assault, from presidential administrations of both parties, economic pressures, and finally, the alleged requirements of national security. After 9/11, this process accelerated even more rapidly."

About Alperovitz’s  Unjust Deserts: "The distribution of income and wealth in the United States is more unequal today than at any time since the 1920s. The following study shares with Buffett a fundamental skepticism toward the belief that the nation’s extraordinary inequalities are simply a natural outgrowth of differences in individual effort, skills, and intelligence…The new research findings suggest that such views are profoundly wrong — but for reasons that go well beyond…the understandings that until recently have been common among specialists concerned with these matters. Unjust Deserts suggests that something at least as portentous as these extraordinary developments is silently emerging among scholars studying the sources of wealth, and that once the implications are fully grasped, it too is likely to have dramatic implications — in this case for the distribution of income, wealth, and power throughout society. It suggests, moreover, that this new understanding and the steady evolution of the knowledge economy, combined with growing social and economic pain and set against a backdrop of ever-worsening inequality, are likely to contribute to potentially massive political change as the 21st century unfolds."

Gar Alperovitz is the Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland. He and Lew Daly are coauthors of the new book Unjust Deserts: How the Rich are Taking Our Common Inheritance and Why We Should Take it Back (Demos Books, 2008).

Marc Raskin is the co-founder and Distinguished Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies, and a professor at George Washington University. He and Robert Spero recently coauthored The Four Freedoms Under Seige: The Clear and Present Danger from Our National Security State (Greenwood, 2006).

Conversation moderated by Sanho Tree, Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Drawing the Future From the Past

Since the end to the U.S. wars in Southeast Asia, many other wars have been waged, in other parts of the world, in new terrain, villages, and communities. Yet, the wars in Southeast Asia lingers.

32nd Annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards

32nd Annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards

The Institute for Policy Studies proudly presents the 32nd Annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards. Please join us in honoring the Indian Workers Congress and Francisco Soberón and Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH) of Peru for their courageous advocacy of human rights.

Registration begins at 5:30 p.m., a reception with light fare starts at 6:00 p.m.., a ceremony follows at 7:00 p.m., and the program wraps up with desserts and coffee at 8:30 p.m. You are also invited to stay and watch the presidential debate held that night on the big screen with us beginning at 9:00 p.m.

For more information, call Sena Tsikata at 202-787-5277 or email at sena@ips-dc.org.


The Indian Workers Congress has taken a courageous stand against what is essentially modern-day slavery. Their ordeal began when they were among several hundred Indians recruited in 2006 for post-Katrina reconstruction work. The recruiters, hired by Signal Corporation, a Northrop Grumman subsidiary, promised the men green cards if they each paid $15,000-$20,000. Instead, after arriving in the Gulf Coast, they were given 10-month guest workers visas and placed in isolated labor camps. In March 2008, more than 100 walked off the job and formed the Indian Workers Congress. With the support of U.S, allies they embarked on a "satyagraha,’" a Gandhian tradition of traveling by foot in the pursuit of truth and justice. Their journey took them from New Orleans to Washington, DC, where they testified before Congress and endured a 29-day hunger strike, demanding that Signal and the recruiters be prosecuted for human trafficking. A Justice Department Investigation is ongoing.
Presented by Barbara Ehrenreich

The Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH) has been the driving force behind the current trial of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori for alleged crimes against humanity during his 1990-2000 reign. This trial marks the first time a former head of state has been extradited to his own country to face justice for human rights violations. APRODEH supplied the attorney who is representing victims’ families in this case and is responsible for recent convictions of death squad leaders. In her book Speak Truth to Power, Kerry Kennedy highlighted the APRODEH founder, stating that "In the violent, vicious military and political battle that has divided his country Soberón has been viewed with suspicion and fear by both sides. Throughout the last arduous twenty years, Soberón has never failed to report abuse, even though doing so has endangered his life." Indeed he continues to face threats from all sides. In May 2008, leading international human rights groups came to Soberón’s defense when current government officials made unfounded accusations against him.
Presented by Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD)




Arts Event: Where Rivers Meet

Arts Event: Where Rivers Meet

This special event will feature poetry and art by Francisco Letelier and music by Jacqueline Fuentes. Join us on October 14 at the Letelier Theater (named in honor of Orlando Letelier) as these artists create a vision of possibility through images, words and music.




Francisco Letelier is well-known for his moving visual art, as well as for his powerful spoken word poetry, which examines and celebrates struggles for human rights. He is the son of Orlando Letelier, the Chilean diplomat who was assassinated by agents of Pinochet in Washington, DC in 1976, on his way to work at the Institute for Policy Studies. Francisco has carried on the legacy of Chilean culture, creating opportunities which bridge continents and disciplines.

Jacqueline Fuentes is an intense experience, a fusion of love, awareness and revolution. Audiences are mesmerized by the power of her voice and the beauty of her lyrics. The volatile political injustices of her native Chile, culminating with the 1973 coup d’etat, gave a voice to folk music and the plight of the people it represented. Jacqueline was heavily influenced by this movement and by such great artists as Mercedes Sosa and Violeta Parra, not only for the beauty of their music but how it had the power to move so many people. Crossing the boundaries of language, religion, and geography their music formed a collective of inspiration and solidarity.

This event is free but seating is limited. Entrance to the building is in the courtyard. See their website for more information.

Please RSVP to emilyh@ips-dc.org. 

This performance is in honor of this year’s Letelier-Moffit Human Rights awardees, the Indian Workers Congress and Francisco Soberón and Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH) of Peru for their courageous advocacy of human rights.  The Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights awards program will take place Wednesday, October 15, at the National Press Club — visit the event page for more details or to purchase tickets.