The Justice Cascade: How Human Rights Prosecutions are Changing World Politics

To commemorate International Human Rights Day, Dr. Kathryn Sikkink, Regents Professor and the McKnight Presidential Chair in Political Science at the University of Minnesota, will speak at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice at the University of San Diego on December 8 at 7 pm. She will discuss her latest book, The Justice Cascade:  How Human Rights Prosecutions are Changing World Politics. The book, which builds on the idea of a “norm cascade” whereby standards established at the international level “cascade” down to the national level, marshals substantial empirical evidence in support of the idea that international prosecutions of national leaders accused of war crimes are actually changing the face of international politics by moving it in the direction of a more just order. 

As Dr. Sikkink pointed out in a New York Times opinion piece September 15, “Time is running out for former government officials accused of murder, genocide and crimes against humanity . . . Critics argue that the threat of prosecution leads dictators like Col. Muammar el_Qaddafi of Libya and Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan to entrench themselves in power rather than negotiate a transition to democracy. . .   [But] my research shows that transitional countries – those moving from authoritarian governments to democracy or from civil war to peace – where human rights prosecutions have taken place subsequently become less repressive than transitional countries without prosecutions, holding other factors constant.” 

The Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice is organizing this event, co-sponsored by the United Nations Association–San Diego, Amnesty International–San Diego and the International Museum of Human Rights – in celebration of International Human Rights Day.  Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies Assistant Professor Dustin Sharp, J.D., will provide comments following Dr. Sikkink’s lecture.  The event takes place in the KIPJ Theatre. A book signing will follow the event.

The event is free and open to the public.


About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.


Pamela Gray Payton
(619) 260-4681