The mission of the Georgia State University Center for Human Rights and Democracy is to create a major interdisciplinary, collaborative program focused on the contemporary and comparative study of human rights and democracy. Such study is driven by recognition of a powerful double-edged premise that has characterized the human condition for centuries—namely, human rights cannot exist without democracy, and democracy cannot exist without human rights. Georgia State University is situated strategically in the heart of a city that represents this country’s struggles and successes to extend civil and human rights to all peoples. With Atlanta being home to advocacy-driven organizations and policy-based think tanks such as the Martin Luther King Center and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Center, there remains a real need and untapped opportunity for a complementary center of research excellence with expertise on pressing questions about human rights in different types of democratic and quasi-democratic regimes throughout the world. Georgia State University is uniquely positioned to capture this comparative advantage of the Atlanta location and to create such a center, given the existence of already strong pockets of faculty expertise spread across departments and institutes.
The Center facilitates the integration and expansion of existing research programs and thereby attracts national and international recognition for Georgia State University as a leader in research, education, and outreach. While university-based human rights centers do exist elsewhere, few if any focus so directly and systematically on the key research themes of GSU’s Center:
- Human rights protection in urban settings;
- Threats to human rights in established democracies with high immigration;
- Human rights in post-dictatorship states;
- Human rights in post-Soviet states; and
- Human rights in post-colonial transitional and democratic states.
“It is people that have rights, not states. Without rights, every country is but a jungle.” Nobel Peace Prize Winner, John Hume (Northern Ireland) Address at Georgia State University (February 18, 2005)