Human Rights Watch
|Headquarters||Empire State Building
New York City, United States
|Product(s)||non profit human rights advocacy|
|Focus||Human rights activism|
|Mission||To become a voice of Justice|
|Formerly called||Helsinki Watch|
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Amsterdam, Beirut, Berlin, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo, Toronto, and Washington.
As of June 2011, the organization’s annual expenses totaled $50.6 million.
The George Soros Open Society Foundation is the primary donor of the Human Rights Watch, contributing $100 million of $128 million of contributions and grants received by the HRW in the 2011 financial year. The $100 million contribution from the Open Society Foundation will be paid out over ten years in $10 million annual installments.
Human Rights Watch was founded as a private American NGO in 1978, under the name Helsinki Watch, to monitor the former Soviet Union's compliance with the Helsinki Accords. Helsinki Watch adopted a methodology 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 European partners, Helsinki Watch contributed to the democratic transformations of the region in the late 1980s.
Americas Watch was founded in 1981 while bloody civil wars engulfed Central America. Relying on extensive on-the-ground fact-finding, Americas Watch not only addressed perceived abuses by government forces but also applied international humanitarian law to investigate and expose war crimes 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 then known as "The Watch Committees." In 1988, all of the committees were united under one umbrella to form Human Rights Watch.1
|This section may require copy-editing. (February 2013)|
Pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch opposes violations of what it considers basic human rights, which include capital punishment 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 produces research reports on violations of 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 also individuals and providing required security for them in critical situations and in a proper time 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, abuses in criminal justice systems, and the legalization of abortion. Human Rights Watch documents and reports violations of the laws of war and international humanitarian law.
Human Rights Watch also supports writers worldwide who are being persecuted for their work and are in need of 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 Human Rights Watch 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, 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. Human Rights Watch employs more than 275 staff—country experts, lawyers, journalists, and academics – and operates in more than 90 countries around the world.
The current executive director of Human Rights Watch 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 human rights began with stories that his father told about escaping Nazi Germany in 1938. He graduated from Yale Law School and Brown University.
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.
Notably, billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros announced in 2010 his intention to donate US$100 million to HRW over a period of ten years. 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 budget from $48 million to $80 million. The donation was the largest in the organization's history.
Charity Navigator gave Human Rights Watch a four-star rating overall, but only a three-star rating in their financial rating.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.
|Program services||2011 Expenses (USD)|
|Europe and Central Asia||$4,123,959|
|Middle East and North Africa||$3,104,643|
|Health & Human Rights||$1,962,015|
|Management and general||$3,130,051|
Human Rights Watch published the following program and support services spending details for the financial year ending June 2008.
|Program services||2008 Expenses (USD)|
|Europe and Central Asia||$4,001,853|
|Middle East and North Africa||$2,258,459|
|Management and general||$1,984,626|
Some notable current and former staff members of Human Rights Watch have included:
- Robert L. Bernstein, Founding Chair Emeritus
- James F. Hoge, Jr., Chairman of the Board
- Kenneth Roth, Executive Director
- Jan Egeland, Deputy Director and the Director of Human Rights Watch Europe
- Minky Worden, Media Director
- Jamie Fellner, Senior Counsel for the United States Program of Human Rights Watch
- Scott Long, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Director
- Sarah Leah Whitson, 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
- Tae-Ung Baik, former research consultant
- Nabeel Rajab, member of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch's Middle East Division
Issues and campaigns
- Abolition of capital punishment worldwide
- Arms trafficking
- Child labor
- Child soldiers
- Extrajudicial killings and abductions
- Extraordinary rendition by the United States
- Gay rights
- Genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity
- Land mines
- Legal proceedings against human rights abusers
- Legalisation of abortion on demand
- Police brutality
- Rights of people with AIDS
- Safety of civilians in war; opposes use of cluster bombs
- Street children
- Trafficking in women and girls
- Women's rights
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 2013, was released in February 2013. Human Rights Watch has reported extensively on subjects such as the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 and the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Comparison with Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are the only two Western-oriented international human rights organizations operating worldwide in most situations of severe oppression or abuse. 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. 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 analysis 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.
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, HRW tends to "concentrate too much on places that the media already cares about", especially in disproportionate coverage of Israel.
HRW has been criticized by national governments, other NGOs, its founder and former Chairman Robert L. Bernstein, and the media. It has been accused by critics of being influenced by U.S. foreign policy, in particular in relation to reporting on Latin America; ignoring antisemitism in Europe or being antisemitic; biases in relation to the Arab–Israeli conflict; and unfair and biased reporting of human rights issues in Eritrea and Ethiopia. Accusations in relation to the Arab–Israeli conflict include claims that HRW is biased against Israel and requesting donations from Saudi Arabian citizens on the basis of its criticism of Israel; it has also been accused of unbalanced reporting on Palestinians by, Jonathan Cook and others. HRW has publicly responded to criticisms relating to its reporting on Latin America and in the context of the Arab–Israeli conflict.
- "Frequently Asked Questions". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
- "Financial Statements, Year Ended June 30, 2011". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2012-06-26.
- See page 16 for the Open Society Foundation's contribution
- "George Soros to Give $100 Million to Human Rights Watch". Human Rights Watch.
- "Our History". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
- Hellman-Hammett Grants,Human Rights Watch
- Human Rights Watch. "Five Activists Win Human Rights Watch Awards". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
- SocialSciences.in. "Human Rights Watch". Retrieved 23 February 2013.
- "Who We Are". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
- "Financial Statements. Year Ended June 30, 2008". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
- "Human Rights Watch Visit to Saudi Arabia". Human Rights Watch. 2009-07-17. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
- "Financials". Human Rights Watch. 2008-09-22. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
- Soros to give Human Rights Watch $100m. over 10 years
- Colum Lynch (2010-09-12). "With $100 million Soros gift, Human Rights Watch looks to expand global reach". Washington Post. "The donation, the largest single gift ever from the Hungarian-born investor and philanthropist, is premised on the belief that U.S. leadership on human rights has been diminished by a decade of harsh policies in the war on terrorism."
- George Soros gives $100 million to Human Rights Watch (The Guardian, Sept. 7, 2010)
- "Charity Rating - Human Rights Watch." Charity Navigator - America's Largest Charity Evaluator | Human Rights Watch. 
- Human Rights Watch: Our People
- Pilkington, Ed (2009-09-15). "Human Rights Watch investigator suspended over Nazi memorabilia". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-02-15.
- "Publications". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
- "Previous World Reports". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
- World Report 2013, Seven Stories Press.
- Rwandan genocide report,Human Rights Watch
- Congo report,Human Rights Watch
- Human rights group says activists detained in Sudan
- NGO Monitor research featured in Sunday Times: "Nazi scandal engulfs Human Rights Watch", March 28, 2010. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
- Russia investigates alleged Chechnya atrocities (The Guardian, Feb. 25, 2000)
'No Jenin massacre' says rights group (BBC, May 3, 2002)
Libyan human rights in the spotlight (BBC, January 20, 2003)
- Naiman, Robert (2009-08-21). "Latin America Scholars Urge Human Rights Watch to Speak Up on Honduras Coup". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2009-08-22. Retrieved 2009-08-22.
- Steve Miller and Joseph Curl (2004). "Aristide accuses U.S. of forcing his ouster". Washington Times. Retrieved 2005-12-26.
- "Aristide related articles". Democracy Now. Retrieved 2006-07-21.
- Emersberger, Joe (2006-03-29). "Haiti and Human Rights Watch". Z Communications. Archived from the original on 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- Council on Hemispheric Affairs, 12 January 2009, Scholars Respond to HRW’s Kenneth Roth’s Riposte on Venezuelan Human Rights
- Grandin, Greg; Adrienne Pine (2009-08-22). "Over 90 Experts Call on Human Rights Watch to Speak Out on Honduras Abuses". Common Dreams. Archived from the original on 2009-08-22. Retrieved 2009-08-22.
- Anti-Semitism in Europe: Fighting Back,Anti-Defamation League
- "Eritrea: Repression Creating Human Rights Crisis". Human Rights Watch. 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2009-08-21.
- Tesfamariam, Sophia (2009-04-29). "Human Rights Watch at Chatham House-A Peddlers Event". American Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-08-21.
- "A row over human rights". The Economist. 2009-02-05.
- Levy, Daniel (2009-07-20). "The "Swiftboating" of Human Rights Watch". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
- Keinon, Herb (2009-07-16). "Diplomacy: Israel vs. Human Rights Watch". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
- "False Allegations about Human Rights Watch’s Latest Gaza Report". Human Rights Watch. 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- Bernstein, David. "Human Rights Watch Goes to Saudi Arabia." The Wall Street Journal. 15 July 2009. 15 July 2009.
- Mujahed: “Human Rights Watch” is blatantly biased in favor of Israel Occupied Palestine, December 25, 2012
- Tom Porteus, 30 September 2008, New Statesman, HRW v Chavez II
- Human Rights Watch (2009-08-25). "Honduras: Rights Report Shows Need for Increased International Pressure". Human Rights Watch. Archived from the original on 2009-08-28. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- Derfner, Larry (2009-07-22). "Rattling the Cage: The smearing of human rights organizations". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
- Visit to Saudi Arabia and False Allegations of Human Rights Watch 'Bias' 
- "Human Rights Watch Visit to Saudi Arabia". Human Rights Watch.
- Whitson, Sarah Leah (September 22, 2006). "Hezbollah's Rockets and Civilian Casualties: A Response to Jonathan Cook". Counterpunch. Retrieved 2006-10-14.
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- Human Rights Watch (official website)
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