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Human Rights Watch Logo

Human Rights Watch is a United States-based international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters is in New York City.

Profile[edit | edit source]

Human Rights Watch produces research reports on violations of international human rights norms as set out by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally-accepted human rights norms. This is intended to draw international attention to abuses and to put pressure on governments and international organizations to reform. Researchers conduct fact-finding missions to investigate suspect situations and generate coverage in local and international media. Issues raised by Human Rights Watch in its reports include social and gender discrimination, torture, military use of children, political corruption, and abuses in criminal justice systems. Human Rights Watch documents and reports violations of the laws of war and international humanitarian law.

Human Rights Watch was founded under the name Helsinki Watch in 1978 to monitor the former Soviet Union's compliance with the Helsinki Accords. As the organization grew, it formed other "watch committees" to cover other regions of the world. In 1988, all of the committees were united under one umbrella to form Human Rights Watch. One of the original founders and a president of the organization was Robert L. Bernstein.

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, a global coalition of civil society groups that successfully lobbied to introduce the Ottawa Convention, a treaty that prohibits the use of anti-personnel landmines.

Each year, Human Rights Watch gives grants to writers worldwide who are in financial need and who they consider to have been victims of persecution. 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 attempt to raise awareness of censorship [1].

Pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch opposes violations of basic human rights, including the death penalty and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Human Rights Watch advocates freedoms in connection with fundamental human rights, such as freedom of religion and the press.

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.

Human Rights Watch has 233 paid staff, and a budget of US$26 million a year. [2]

The current executive director of Human Rights Watch is Kenneth Roth. He has held this position since 1993. Roth is a graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University. His father fled Nazi Germany in 1938. Roth started working on human rights after the declaration of martial law in Poland in 1981, and later became engaged in Haiti issues. [3]

Issues and campaigns[edit | edit source]

Publications[edit | edit source]

Human Rights Watch World Report 2007

Human Rights Watch publishes reports on several topics [4] and compiles annual reports ("World Report") presenting an overview of the worldwide state of human rights.

Human Rights Watch has published extensively on the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 [5] and the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo [6].

Comparison with Amnesty International[edit | edit source]

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are the only two international human rights organizations operating worldwide in most situations of severe repression or abuse. Though close allies, the two groups play complementary roles, reflecting a healthy division of labour. The major differences lie in the groups’ 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 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 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.

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 less analysis, and instead focus on specific abuses of rights.

Criticisms[edit | edit source]

Main article: Criticism of Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch has been criticized for perceived anti-Western, anti-India, anti-China, and anti-Israel bias. According to a report in the Egyptian press, "the government often accuses human rights groups [including Human Rights Watch] of importing a Western agenda that offends local religious and cultural values."[7] Yatindra Bhatnagar, chief editor of "International Opinion", has criticized Human Rights Watch representatives and those of related organizations of having an anti-India bias with regards to their reports of communal riots in India between Hindus and Muslims, particularly in reference to the 2002 Gujarat violence.[8]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Hellman-Hammett Grants,Human Rights Watch
  2. Financial statement,Human Rights Watch
  3. Kenneth Roth Bio,Human Rights Watch
  4. Publications,Human Rights Watch
  5. Rwandan genocide report,Human Rights Watch
  6. Congo report,Human Rights Watch
  7. Not just the Queen Boat: HRW is asking the Egyptian government to stop persecuting homosexuals and commit to reform]
  8. Hours of Anti-India, Anti-Hindutva Rhetoric at “Indian” Muslim Meet, bu Yatindra Bhatnagar,International Opinion.

External links[edit | edit source]

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