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Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international
non-governmental organization File:Europe in a suitcase - UK.jpg, upright=1.3, alt=A roomful of people, Europe-Georgia Institute head George Melashvili addresses the audience at the launch of the "Europe in a suitcase" project by two NGOs (the EGI and the Friedrich Naumann Fo ...
, headquartered in
New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2019 population of 8,336,817 distributed over about , New York City is also the L ...

New York City
, that conducts research and
advocacy Advocacy is an activity by an individual or group that aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social institutions. Advocacy includes activities and publications to influence public policy, laws and budgets by using facts ...
on
human rights Human rights are moral principles or normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif Wenar, 13 December 2013, Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyHuman Rights Retrieved 14 August 2014 for certain standards of hum ...
. The group pressures governments, policy makers, companies, and individual human rights abusers to denounce abuse and respect human rights, and the group often works on behalf of refugees, children, migrants, and political prisoners. Human Rights Watch in 1997 shared in the
Nobel Peace Prize The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments (military weapons and equipment) manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry Chemistry is t ...
as a founding member of the
International Campaign to Ban Landmines The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is a coalition of non-governmental organization File:Europe in a suitcase - UK.jpg, upright=1.3, alt=A roomful of people, Europe-Georgia Institute head George Melashvili addresses the audience ...
and it played a leading role in the
2008 treaty banning cluster munitions The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) is an international treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and international organizations, ...
. The organization's annual expenses totaled $50.6 million in 2011, $69.2 million in 2014, and $75.5 million in 2017.


History

Human Rights Watch was co-founded by Robert L. Bernstein and
Aryeh Neier Aryeh Neier (born April 22, 1937) is an American human rights Human rights are moral principles or normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif Wenar, 13 December 2013, Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyH ...
as a private American NGO in 1978, under the name
Helsinki Watch Helsinki Watch was a private American non-governmental organization File:Europe in a suitcase - UK.jpg, upright=1.3, alt=A roomful of people, Europe-Georgia Institute head George Melashvili addresses the audience at the launch of the "Europe in ...
, to monitor the then-
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a Federalism, federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a Political union, union of multiple national Republics of t ...
's compliance with the Helsinki Accords. Helsinki Watch adopted a practice of publicly " naming and shaming" abusive governments through media coverage and through direct exchanges with policymakers. By shining the international spotlight on human rights violations in the Soviet Union and its
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest ...
an partners, Helsinki Watch says it contributed to the
democratic
democratic
transformations of the region in the late 1980s. Americas Watch was founded in 1981 while bloody
civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same state or country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the ...
s engulfed
Central America Central America ( es, América Central, , ''Centroamérica'' ) is a region of the Americas. It is bordered by Mexico Mexico ( es, México ; Nahuan languages: ), officially the United Mexican States (; EUM ), is a List of sovereign sta ...
. Relying on extensive on-the-ground fact-finding, Americas Watch not only addressed perceived abuses by government forces but also applied
international humanitarian law International humanitarian law (IHL), also referred to as the laws of armed conflict, is the law that regulates the conduct of war ('' jus in bello''). It is a branch of international law International law, also known as public international la ...
to investigate and expose
war crime A war crime is an act that constitutes a serious violation of the laws of war that gives rise to individual Crime, criminal responsibility. Examples of crimes include Crimes against humanity, intentionally killing civilians or Prisoners of war ...
s by rebel groups. In addition to raising its concerns in the affected countries, Americas Watch also examined the role played by foreign governments, particularly the United States government, in providing military and political support to abusive regimes. Asia Watch (1985), Africa Watch (1988) and Middle East Watch (1989) were added to what was known as "The Watch Committees". In 1988, all of these committees were united under one umbrella to form Human Rights Watch.


Profile

Pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Human Rights Watch (HRW) opposes violations of what are considered basic human rights under the UDHR. This includes capital punishment and discrimination on the basis of LGBT social movements, sexual orientation. HRW advocates freedoms in connection with fundamental human rights, such as freedom of religion and freedom of the press. HRW seeks to achieve change by publicly pressuring governments and their policymakers to curb human rights abuses, and by convincing more powerful governments to use their influence on governments that violate human rights. Human Rights Watch publishes research reports on violations of international human rights law, international human rights norms as set out by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and what it perceives to be other internationally accepted, human-rights norms. These reports are used as the basis for drawing international attention to abuses and pressuring governments and international organizations to reform. Researchers conduct fact-finding missions to investigate suspect situations also using diplomacy, staying in touch with victims, making files about public and individuals, and providing required security for them in critical situations and in a proper time generate coverage in local and international News media, media. Issues raised by Human Rights Watch in its reports include social and discrimination, gender discrimination, torture, military use of children, political corruption, abuses in criminal justice systems, and the legalization of abortion. HRW has documented and reported various violations of the laws of war and
international humanitarian law International humanitarian law (IHL), also referred to as the laws of armed conflict, is the law that regulates the conduct of war ('' jus in bello''). It is a branch of international law International law, also known as public international la ...
. Human Rights Watch also supports writers worldwide, who are being persecuted for their work and are in need of Welfare (financial aid), financial assistance. The Hellman/Hammett grants are financed by the estate of the playwright Lillian Hellman in funds set up in her name and that of her long-time companion, the novelist Dashiell Hammett. In addition to providing financial assistance, the Hellman/Hammett grants help raise international awareness of activists who are being silenced for speaking out in defence of human rights. Each year, Human Rights Watch presents the Human Rights Defenders Award to activists around the world who demonstrate leadership and courage in defending human rights. The award winners work closely with HRW in investigating and exposing human rights abuses. Human Rights Watch was one of six international NGOs that founded the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers in 1998. It is also the co-chair of the
International Campaign to Ban Landmines The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is a coalition of non-governmental organization File:Europe in a suitcase - UK.jpg, upright=1.3, alt=A roomful of people, Europe-Georgia Institute head George Melashvili addresses the audience ...
, a global coalition of civil society groups that successfully lobbied to introduce the Ottawa Treaty, a treaty that prohibits the use of anti-personnel landmines. Human Rights Watch is a founding member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, a global network of non-governmental organizations that monitor censorship worldwide. It also co-founded the Cluster Munition Coalition, which brought about an international convention banning the weapons. HRW employs more than 275 staff—country experts, lawyers, journalists, and academics—and operates in more than 90 countries around the world. Headquartered in
New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2019 population of 8,336,817 distributed over about , New York City is also the L ...

New York City
, it has offices in Amsterdam, Beirut, Berlin, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Nairobi, Seoul, Paris, San Francisco, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Washington, D.C., and Zürich. HRW maintains direct access to the majority of countries it reports on. Cuba, North Korea, Sudan, Iran, Israel, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Venezuela are among the handful of countries that have blocked access for HRW staff members. The current executive director of HRW is Kenneth Roth, who has held the position since 1993. Roth conducted investigations on abuses in Poland after martial law was declared 1981. He later focused on Haiti, which had just emerged from the Duvalier dictatorship but continued to be plagued with problems. Roth's awareness of the importance of human rights began with stories his father had told about escaping Nazi Germany in 1938. Roth graduated from Yale Law School and Brown University.


Comparison with Amnesty International

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are the only two Western-oriented international human rights organizations operating in most situations of severe oppression or abuse worldwide. The major differences lie in the group's structure and methods for promoting change. Amnesty International is a mass-membership organization. Mobilization of those members is the organization's central advocacy tool. Human Rights Watch's main products are its crisis-directed research and lengthy reports, whereas Amnesty International lobbies and writes detailed reports, but also focuses on mass letter-writing campaigns, adopting individuals as "prisoners of conscience" and lobbying for their release. Human Rights Watch will openly lobby for specific actions for other governments to take against human rights offenders, including naming specific individuals for arrest, or for International sanctions, sanctions to be levied against certain countries, recently calling for punitive sanctions against the top leaders in Sudan who have overseen a killing campaign in Darfur. The group has also called for human rights activists who have been detained in Sudan to be released. Its documentations of human rights abuses often include extensive analyses of the political and historical backgrounds of the conflicts concerned, some of which have been published in academic journals. AI's reports, on the other hand, tend to contain lesser analyses, and instead focus on specific abuses of rights. In 2010, ''The Times'' of London wrote that HRW has "all but eclipsed" Amnesty International. According to ''The Times'', instead of being supported by a mass membership, as AI is, HRW depends on wealthy donors who like to see the organization's reports make headlines. For this reason, according to ''The Times'', HRW tends to "concentrate too much on places that the media already cares about", especially in disproportionate coverage of Israel.NGO Monitor research featured in Sunday Times: "Nazi scandal engulfs Human Rights Watch"
, March 28, 2010. Retrieved 2012-07-19.


Financing and services

For the financial year ending June 2008, HRW reported receiving approximately US$44 million in public donations. In 2009, Human Rights Watch stated that they receive almost 75% of their financial support from North America, 25% from Western Europe and less than 1% from the rest of the world. According to a 2008 financial assessment, HRW reports that it does not accept any direct or indirect funding from governments and is financed through contributions from private individuals and foundations. Financier and philanthropist George Soros of the Open Society Foundations announced in 2010 his intention to grant US$100 million to HRW over a period of ten years to help it expand its efforts internationally: "to be more effective," he said, "I think the organization has to be seen as more international, less an American organization." He said, "Human Rights Watch is one of the most effective organizations I support. Human rights underpin our greatest aspirations: they're at the heart of open societies." The donation increases Human Rights Watch's operating staff of 300 by 120 people. The donation was the largest in the organization's history. Charity Navigator gave Human Rights Watch a three-star rating overall for 2018. Its financial rating increased from three stars in 2015 to the maximum four as of June 2016. The Better Business Bureau said Human Rights Watch meets its standards for charity accountability. Human Rights Watch published the following program and support services spending details for the financial year ending June 2011. Human Rights Watch published the following program and support services spending details for the financial year ending June 2008.


Notable staff

Some notable current and former staff members of Human Rights Watch: * Robert L. Bernstein, Founding Chair Emeritus *Kenneth Roth, Executive Director *Jan Egeland, Deputy Director and the Director of Human Rights Watch Europe *John Studzinski, Vice Chair;John J. Studzinski
. Human Rights Watch.
developed European arm;
. ''Daily Telegraph, The Telegraph''. November 22, 2007.
former Director; member of Executive Committee; Chairman of Investment Committee"Donation provides cornerstone for new Transforming Tate Modern development"
. Tate Modern. May 22, 2007.
John Studzinski
. ''Debrett's''.
John Studzinski
. Institute for Public Policy Research.
*Minky Worden, Media Director *Jamie Fellner, Senior Counsel for the United States Program of Human Rights Watch *Brad Adams, Asia Director * Ali Dayan Hasan, former Pakistan Director *Scott Long, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Director *Sarah Leah Whitson, former Middle East and North Africa Director *Joe Stork *Marc Garlasco, former staff member, resigned due to a scandal involving his Nazi memorabilia collection *Sharon Hom * Baik Tae-Ung, Tae-Ung Baik, former research consultant *Nabeel Rajab, member of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch's Middle East Division * José Miguel Vivanco, Director of Human Rights Watch in the Americas *Tejshree Thapa, former Senior South Asia researcher *Ben Rawlence, Journalist and former Researcher


Publications

Human Rights Watch publishes reports on many different topics and compiles an annual ''World Report'' presenting an overview of the worldwide state of human rights. It has been published by Seven Stories Press since 2006; the current edition, ''World Report 2020'', was released in January 2020, and covers events of 2019. ''World Report 2020'', HRW's 30th annual review of human rights practices around the globe, includes reviews of human rights practices and trends in nearly 100 countries, and an introductory essay by HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth "China's Global Threat to Human Rights". Human Rights Watch has reported extensively on subjects such as the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sex offender registries in the United States, US sex offender registries due to their over-breadth and application to juveniles. In the summer of 2004, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University in New York became the depository institution for the Human Rights Watch Archive, an active collection that documents decades of human rights investigations around the world. The archive was transferred from its previous location at the Norlin Library at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The archive includes administrative files, public relations documents, as well as case and country files. With some exceptions for security considerations, the Columbia University community and the public have access to field notes, taped and transcribed interviews with alleged victims of human rights violations, video and audiotapes, and other materials documenting the organization's activities since its founding in 1978 as Helsinki Watch. However, significant parts of the HRW archive are not open to researchers or to the public, including the records of the meetings of the board of directors, the executive committee, and the various subcommittees, limiting historians' ability to understand the organization's internal decision-making.


Criticism

HRW has been criticized for perceived bias by the national governments it has investigated for human rights abuses, by NGO Monitor, and by HRW's founder, and former Chairman, Robert L. Bernstein. Bias allegations have included undue influence by United States government policy, and claims that HRW is biased against Israel (and focuses undue attention on the Arab–Israeli conflict). HRW has also been criticized for poor research methodology and lax fact-checking, and ignoring the human-rights abuses of less-open regimes. HRW has routinely publicly addressed, and often denies, criticism of its reporting and findings.''The Transformation of Human Rights Fact-Finding''; Sarah Knuckey; Oxford University Press, 2015; Pgs. 355-376 According to Democracy Now, HRW has also been criticized for having a 'revolving door' with the U.S. government, a charge which HRW disputes. In 2020, the HRW Board of Directors discovered that Human Rights Watch accepted a $470,000 donation from Saudi real estate magnate Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber, owner of a company HRW "had previously identified as complicit in labor rights abuse", under the condition that the donation not be used to support LGBT advocacy in the Middle East and North Africa. The gift was returned and Human Rights Watch issued a statement saying that accepting the funding was a "deeply regrettable decision" in response to investigative reporting from The Intercept regarding the donation. In August 2020, HRW executive director Kenneth Roth was sanctioned—together with the heads of four other U.S.-based democracy and human rights organizations and six U.S. Republican lawmakers—by the Chinese government for supporting the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement in the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests. The leaders of the five organizations saw the sanctioning, whose details were unspecified, as a tit-for-tat measure in response to the earlier sanctioning by the U.S. of 11 Hong Kong officials. The latter step had in turn been a reaction to the enactment of the Hong Kong National Security Law at the end of June.


See also

* Academic freedom in the Middle East * American Freedom Campaign * Avocats Sans Frontières * Freedom House * Helsinki Committee for Human Rights * Human Rights First * International Freedom of Expression Exchange * Shia Rights Watch * US Human Rights Network * World Coalition Against the Death Penalty * Cow vigilante violence in India


References


External links

* {{Authority control Human Rights Watch, 1978 establishments in the United States Organizations established in 1978 Recipients of the Four Freedoms Award