Harvard school reverses course, will extend fellowship to human rights advocate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The prestigious Kennedy School at Harvard University said on Thursday it has reversed a decision to not award a fellowship to the former head of Human

Rights Watch (HRW) after coming under fire earlier this month over the move. The school's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy last year approached Kenneth Roth, who served

as HRW's executive director from 1993 to 2022, and agreed on the terms of a fellowship, according to both Roth and the Carr Center. The fellowship was subject to approval by

Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf. Kathryn Sikkink, a human rights academic at the Kennedy School, told The Nation magazine earlier this month that Elmendorf told her he

rejected the appointment because of what he called HRW's "anti-Israel bias." In an email to the community on Thursday, shared by a Harvard Kennedy School spokesperson,

Elmendorf said he believed he had made an error. "In the case of Mr. Roth, I now believe that I made an error in my decision not to appoint him as a Fellow at our Carr

Center for Human Rights... We will extend an offer to Mr. Roth to serve as a Fellow. I hope that our community will be able to benefit from his deep experience in a wide range of

human rights issues," Elmendorf said. The decision not to award a fellowship to Roth, first reported by The Nation, drew criticism from some alumni, the American Civil

Liberties Union and HRW itself. Freedom of expression advocacy group PEN America said the decision "raises serious questions about the credibility of the Harvard program

itself."