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Human Rights

Problems and solutions

With so many challenges, it's hard to know where to start. We start by defining some of the most pressing issues, looking at the data, and learning about evidence based opportunities for change.  

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Global democratic backsliding
  • In 2022, the Freedom House Project reported a 16th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.

    • 38% of the world’s population lives in 'Not Free' countries; just 20% live in totally 'Free' countries.

    • Especially prevalent trends include attacks on media freedom, weakening rule of law, unfree elections, and mistreatment of migrants.

  • The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance found that the number of backsliding democracies has doubled in the past decade, and the number of countries moving in an authoritarian direction outnumber those going in a democratic direction.

    • 2020 also represented the 'worst year on record' for deepening authoritarianism and oppression in already non-democratic nations like Turkey, Venezuela, Cambodia, and Belarus.

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Migration and human rights
  • Global migration has steadily increased over the past half century: in 2020, there were 280.6 million global migrants, or 4% of the world’s population.

    • Forcibly displaced persons (refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons) exceeded 100 million people, or 1% of the world’s population.

  • Global migration, whether in forced or voluntary contexts, is often accompanied by human rights violations; a UN report noted that 'Migrants are vulnerable to human rights violations because they are not citizens of receiving states and, due to their status, often live in precarious situations'.

    • In the U.S. (the world’s top immigration destination attracting 18% of all migrants), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been found to engage in abusive, racist, and otherwise discriminatory practices.

    • In Europe, another top immigrant destination, Oxfam described that borders have been militarized, accommodations are unsafe, people are mistreated and, in general, 'migrants and refugees are denied their basic human rights'.

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U.S. mass incarceration
  • There are currently 1.9 million incarcerated Americans.

  • In 2021, the U.S. had the highest incarceration rate in the world at 664 incarcerated people per 100,000 citizens.

    • If every state were considered an independent nation, 24 states would have the highest incarceration rate in the world.

  • Mass incarceration disproportionately affects communities of color.

    • Black people are more than 50% more likely than white people to experience family incarceration, and more than three times as likely to have had a family member incarcerated for more than one year.

    • Latino individuals are nearly twice as likely to have had a family member in jail or prison for more than one year.

  • Incarceration has disastrous effects on families.

    • Nearly two in three families were unable to meet basic needs (food, housing, medical care) while a family member was incarcerated.

    • Family incomes decline 22% when a father is incarcerated and remain 15% lower even after they are released.

    • Paternal incarceration negatively affects school readiness and has a significant impact on educational outcomes and economic mobility.

Image by Ashni

What can we do about it?


Policy reform:
international policy changes via global governance bodies like the UN, and/or reforms on a national level to decrease incarceration, strengthen democracy, or improve migrant rights.


publicly promoting just treatment of citizens and migrants; broadly advocating for democratic protections.


Promoting free journalism:
permitting the press to report on human rights issues and violations internationally and locally.
"To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”
Nelson Mandela

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