Engaging with Perpetrators for Human Rights

When, how and at what cost?

Harini Calamour/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Would activists be more effective at reducing human rights abuses if they tried to understand why perpetrators commit acts of violence and abuse? If so, what are ethical ways of engaging with perpetrators? This debate explores various perspectives on whetherwhen and how to engage with perpetrators of human rights abuses, including discussions of ethical, moral and strategic considerations. 

Collaborating Guest Editor: Rachel Wahl



The moral hazards of conflating what is useful with what is right

May 6, 2017
By: Mythri Jayaraman

To suggest that we should only seek to understand perpetrators if it’s “useful” is contrary to the universality ...

Engage when we can, confront when we must

April 26, 2017
By: Navaz Kotwal

Indian human rights workers do not want to engage with the police, but to enact real change, both sides ...

Accountability versus access: collaborating with rights violators in conflict zones

April 24, 2017
By: Christine Monaghan

In health care, both access and accountability require understanding and collaborating with rights violators.

Why engaging with perpetrators isn’t possible in Iran (yet)

April 19, 2017
By: Mahmood Monshipouri

Engagement with Iranian human rights perpetrators might help someday, but in the current political climate ...

Navigating the minefield of working with perpetrators

March 30, 2017
By: Danielle Celermajer

Judgments about when collaboration becomes cooptation are too easily made in the abstract, based on ...

To understand perpetrators, we must care about them

March 22, 2017
By: James Dawes

Preventing future atrocities requires empathetic understanding of how regular people transform into ...

To change torture practices, we must change the entire system

March 15, 2017
By: Kiran Grewal

Preventing torture goes beyond understanding individuals—it requires changing an entire system that ...

Working with the enemy: the pros and cons of collaborating with perpetrators

March 1, 2017
By: Rachel Wahl
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What is the best way for human rights activists to engage with perpetrators? There are ethical and strategic ...