FIRE criticizes Harvard for rescinding human rights champion Ken Roth’s fellowship

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

The dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School has refused to approve the fellowship of the man — hailed as  the “godfather” of human rights work — because he disagrees with his stance on Israel. 

HKS, one of the top public policy institutions in the world, has violated Harvard’s clear commitments to free expression by denying former Human Rights Watch executive Kenneth Roth a fellowship because of his purported “anti-Israel bias.” As always, FIRE is neutral on Roth’s views on Israel, as well as the underlying Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and has defended individuals on every side of the issue.

Harvard’s human rights experts reportedly sought Roth for the job after he announced he was stepping down as executive director of Human Rights WatchSushma Raman, executive director of HKS’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, invited Roth to join the center as a senior fellow. Roth and Raman agreed on terms, and the fellowship was set to be confirmed, but when it was elevated to HKS Dean Douglas Elmendorf, he refused to approve the deal.

FIRE wrote Dean Elmendorf today to urge him to approve Roth’s fellowship, explaining that the school violated Roth’s expressive rights by denying him the fellowship because of his views.