Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch

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Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization
Non-governmental organization
A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

 that conducts research and advocacy
Advocacy
Advocacy is a political process by an individual or a large group which normally aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions; it may be motivated from moral, ethical or faith principles or simply to protect an...

 on human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

. Its headquarters are in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and it has offices in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

, Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

, Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

, Johannesburg
Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

, London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, San Francisco, Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

, Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, and Washington.

History



Human Rights Watch was founded as a private American NGO in 1978, under the name of Helsinki Watch
Helsinki Watch
Helsinki Watch was a private American NGO devoted to monitoring Helsinki implementation throughout the Soviet bloc. It was created in 1978 to monitor compliance to the Helsinki Final Act...

, to monitor the former Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

's compliance with the Helsinki Accords
Helsinki Accords
thumb|300px|[[Erich Honecker]] and [[Helmut Schmidt]] in Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe held in Helsinki 1975....

. 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 vassal state
Vassal state
A vassal state is any state that is subordinate to another. The vassal in these cases is the ruler, rather than the state itself. Being a vassal most commonly implies providing military assistance to the dominant state when requested to do so; it sometimes implies paying tribute, but a state which...

s in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

, 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
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

. 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
International humanitarian law , often referred to as the laws of war, the laws and customs of war or the law of armed conflict, is the legal corpus that comprises "the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions, as well as subsequent treaties, case law, and customary international law." It...

 to investigate and expose war crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

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 then known as "The Watch Committees." In 1988, all of the committees were united under one umbrella to form Human Rights Watch.

Profile


Pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

, Human Rights Watch opposes violations of what it considers basic human rights, which include capital punishment
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
LGBT social movements
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender social movements share inter-related goals of social acceptance of sexual and gender minorities. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies have a long history of campaigning for what is generally called LGBT rights, also called gay...

. Human Rights Watch advocates freedoms in connection with fundamental human rights, such as freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

 and the press
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

.

Human Rights Watch produces research reports on violations of international human rights norms
International human rights law
International human rights law refers to the body of international law designed to promote and protect human rights at the international, regional and domestic levels...

 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 and generate coverage in local and international media
News media
The news media are those elements of the mass media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public.These include print media , broadcast news , and more recently the Internet .-Etymology:A medium is a carrier of something...

. Issues raised by Human Rights Watch in its reports include social and gender discrimination
Discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

, torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

, military use of children
Military use of children
The military use of children takes three distinct forms: children can take direct part in hostilities , or they can be used in support roles such as porters, spies, messengers, look outs, and sexual slaves; or they can be used for political advantage either as human shields or in...

, political corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

, abuses in criminal justice
Criminal justice
Criminal Justice is the system of practices and institutions of governments directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, or sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts...

 systems, and the legalization of abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

. Human Rights Watch documents and reports violations of the laws of war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 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
Financial assistance
Financial assistance in law refers to assistance given by a company for the purchase of its own shares or the shares of its holding companies. In many jurisdictions such assistance is prohibited or restricted by law...

. The Hellman/Hammett grants are financed by the estate of the playwright Lillian Hellman
Lillian Hellman
Lillian Florence "Lily" Hellman was an American playwright, linked throughout her life with many left-wing causes...

 in funds set up in her name and that of her long-time companion, the novelist Dashiell Hammett
Dashiell Hammett
Samuel Dashiell Hammett was an American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories, and political activist. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade , Nick and Nora Charles , and the Continental Op .In addition to the significant influence his novels and stories had on...

. 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
Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers
The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers is a UK-based non-governmental organization that was formed to prevent the recruitment and exploitation of children in warfare and to ensure their reintegration into larger society by means of research, advocacy, and capacity building...

 in 1998. It is also the co-chair of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
International Campaign to Ban Landmines
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines is a coalition of non-governmental organizations working for a world free of anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions, where mine and cluster munitions survivors see their rights respected and can lead fulfilling lives.The coalition was formed in...

, a global coalition of civil society groups that successfully lobbied to introduce the Ottawa Treaty
Ottawa Treaty
The Ottawa Treaty or the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, officially known as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, aims at eliminating anti-personnel landmines around the world. , there were 158...

, a treaty that prohibits the use of anti-personnel landmines.

Human Rights Watch is a founding member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange
International Freedom of Expression Exchange
The International Freedom of Expression eXchange , founded in 1992, is a global network of around 90 non-governmental organisations that promotes and defends the right to freedom of expression....

, a global network of non-governmental organizations that monitor censorship
Censorship
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

 worldwide. It also co-founded the Cluster Munition Coalition
Cluster Munition Coalition
The Cluster Munition Coalition is an international civil society movement campaigning against the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions. Cluster munitions are a type of explosive weapon widely stockpiled by more than 80 states...

, 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
Kenneth Roth
Kenneth Roth is an American attorney and has been the executive director of Human Rights Watch since 1993.-Background:Kenneth Roth, a graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University, was drawn to human rights causes through his Jewish father's experience of fleeing Nazi Germany in 1938...

, who has held the position since 1993. Roth conducted investigations on abuses in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 after martial law was declared 1981. He later focused on Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

, 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
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 in 1938. He graduated from Yale Law School
Yale Law School
Yale Law School, or YLS, is the law school of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Established in 1824, it offers the J.D., LL.M., J.S.D. and M.S.L. degrees in law. It also hosts visiting scholars, visiting researchers and a number of legal research centers...

 and Brown University
Brown University
Brown University is a private, Ivy League university located in Providence, Rhode Island, United States. Founded in 1764 prior to American independence from the British Empire as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations early in the reign of King George III ,...

.

Human Rights Watch has been deemed an accredited charity by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, a national charity monitoring organization that is associated with the Better Business Bureau system . Charity Navigator, an organization that evaluates individual charity institutions and subsequently publishes reports detailing aspects such as income statements and organizational efficiency, gave Human Rights Watch a two out of four-star overall rating .

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. According to NGO Monitor
NGO Monitor
NGO Monitor is a non-governmental organization based in Jerusalem, Israel whose stated aim is to generate and distribute critical analysis and reports on the output of the international NGO community for the benefit of government policy makers, journalists, philanthropic organizations and the...

 this policy is violated by support from the Dutch government and a May 2009 fund raising trip to Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

.

Notably, billionaire
Billionaire
A billionaire, in countries that use the short scale number naming system, is a person who has a net worth of at least one billion units of a given currency, usually the United States dollar, Euro, or Pound sterling. Forbes magazine updates a complete list of U.S. dollar billionaires around the...

 financier and philanthropist George Soros
George Soros
George Soros is a Hungarian-American business magnate, investor, philosopher, and philanthropist. He is the chairman of Soros Fund Management. Soros supports progressive-liberal causes...

 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, the highest number of stars possible.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 2008.
Program services 2008 Expenses (USD)
Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

$5,532,631
Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

$1,479,265
Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

$3,212,850
Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

$4,001,853
Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 and North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

$2,258,459
United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

$1,195,673
Children's Rights
Children's rights
Children's rights are the human rights of children with particular attention to the rights of special protection and care afforded to the young, including their right to association with both biological parents, human identity as well as the basic needs for food, universal state-paid education,...

$1,642,064
International Justice $1,385,121
Woman's Rights $1,854,228
Other programs $9,252,974
Supporting services
Management and general $1,984,626
Fundraising $8,641,358

Notable staff


Some notable current and former staff members of Human Rights Watch have included:
  • Robert L. Bernstein
    Robert L. Bernstein
    -Career in Publishing:Bernstein started as an office boy at Simon & Schuster in 1946, moved to Random House in 1956 and succeeded Bennett Cerf as President and CEO in 1966. He served as the President of Random House for 25 years. He published many great American authors, including William...

    , Founding Chair Emeritus
  • James F. Hoge, Jr.
    James F. Hoge, Jr.
    James Fulton Hoge, Jr. was the editor of Foreign Affairs and the Peter G. Peterson Chair at the Council on Foreign Relations. His principal areas of expertise are U.S...

    , Chairman of the Board
  • Kenneth Roth
    Kenneth Roth
    Kenneth Roth is an American attorney and has been the executive director of Human Rights Watch since 1993.-Background:Kenneth Roth, a graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University, was drawn to human rights causes through his Jewish father's experience of fleeing Nazi Germany in 1938...

    , Executive Director
  • Minky Worden
    Minky Worden
    Minky Worden is an American human rights advocate and author who is the Media Director of Human Rights Watch.Worden joined Human Rights Watch in 1998. Before that, she lived and worked in Hong Kong as an adviser to Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee and worked at the U.S. Department of Justice in...

    , Media Director
  • Jamie Fellner
    Jamie Fellner
    Jamie Fellner is Senior Counsel for the United States Program of Human Rights Watch. The U.S. Program focuses on human rights violations within the United States. From 2004-2009 she also served on the U.S...

    , Senior Counsel for the United States Program of Human Rights Watch
  • Scott Long, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Director
  • Sarah Leah Whitson
    Sarah Leah Whitson
    Sarah Leah Whitson is an American human rights activist and director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch.-Early life and education :Whitson was reared by a mother who was born in the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem's Old City...

    , Middle East and North Africa Director
  • Joe Stork
    Joe Stork
    Joe Stork is an American political activist and Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch. He holds an M.A. in International Affairs/Middle East Studies from Columbia University.-Career:...

  • Marc Garlasco
    Marc Garlasco
    Marc Garlasco is an American former senior military expert for Human Rights Watch who specialized in battle damage assessment, military operations, and interrogations for the Emergencies Division...

    , former staff member
  • Sharon Hom
    Sharon Hom
    Sharon Kang Hom is currently Executive Director of Human Rights in China and professor of law emerita, City University of New York School of Law. She was named by the Wall Street Journal as one of 2007's for their impact on business.-Biography:...


Issues and campaigns


  • Abolition of capital punishment
    Capital punishment
    Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

     worldwide
  • Arms trafficking
  • Child labor
    Child labor
    Child labour refers to the employment of children at regular and sustained labour. This practice is considered exploitative by many international organizations and is illegal in many countries...

  • Child soldiers
    Military use of children
    The military use of children takes three distinct forms: children can take direct part in hostilities , or they can be used in support roles such as porters, spies, messengers, look outs, and sexual slaves; or they can be used for political advantage either as human shields or in...

  • Extrajudicial killings
    Extrajudicial punishment
    Extrajudicial punishment is punishment by the state or some other official authority without the permission of a court or legal authority. The existence of extrajudicial punishment is considered proof that some governments will break their own legal code if deemed necessary.-Nature:Extrajudicial...

     and abductions
  • Extraordinary rendition by the United States
  • Gay rights
    LGBT social movements
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender social movements share inter-related goals of social acceptance of sexual and gender minorities. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies have a long history of campaigning for what is generally called LGBT rights, also called gay...

  • Genocide
    Genocide
    Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

    , war crime
    War crime
    War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

    s and crimes against humanity
    Crime against humanity
    Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings...

  • Land mine
    Land mine
    A land mine is usually a weight-triggered explosive device which is intended to damage a target—either human or inanimate—by means of a blast and/or fragment impact....

    s
  • Legal proceedings against human rights abusers
  • Legalisation of abortion on demand
    Pro-choice
    Support for the legalization of abortion is centered around the pro-choice movement, a sociopolitical movement supporting the ethical view that a woman should have the legal right to elective abortion, meaning the right to terminate her pregnancy....

  • Rights of people with AIDS
    AIDS
    Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

  • Safety of civilian
    Civilian
    A civilian under international humanitarian law is a person who is not a member of his or her country's armed forces or other militia. Civilians are distinct from combatants. They are afforded a degree of legal protection from the effects of war and military occupation...

    s in war; opposes use of cluster bomb
    Cluster bomb
    A cluster munition is a form of air-dropped or ground-launched explosive weapon that releases or ejects smaller sub-munitions. Commonly, this is a cluster bomb that ejects explosive bomblets that are designed to kill enemy personnel and destroy vehicles...

    s
  • Street children
    Street children
    A street child is a child who lives on the streets of a city, deprived of family care and protection. Most children on the streets are between the ages of about 5 and 17 years old.Street children live in junk boxes, parks or on the street itself...

  • Torture
    Torture
    Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

  • Trafficking in women
    Human trafficking
    Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery...

     and girls
  • Women's rights
    Women's rights
    Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...



Publications


Human Rights Watch publishes reports on several topics and compiles annual reports, World Report, presenting an overview of the worldwide state of human rights. The next publication, World Report 2012, is being released in February 2012 by Seven Stories Press
Seven Stories Press
Seven Stories Press is an independent publishing company. Located in New York City, the company was founded by editor Dan Simon in 1995 after he parted company with Four Walls Eight Windows. The company was named for its seven founding authors: Annie Ernaux, Gary Null, the estate of Nelson Algren,...

 Human Rights Watch has published extensively on the subjects such as Rwandan Genocide
Rwandan Genocide
The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people in the small East African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of approximately 100 days through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate...

 of 1994 and the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

.

Comparison with Amnesty International


Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 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
International sanctions
International sanctions are actions taken by countries against others for political reasons, either unilaterally or multilaterally.There are several types of sanctions....

 to be levied against certain countries, recently calling for punitive sanctions against the top leaders in Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 who have overseen a killing campaign in Darfur
Darfur
Darfur is a region in western Sudan. An independent sultanate for several hundred years, it was incorporated into Sudan by Anglo-Egyptian forces in 1916. The region is divided into three federal states: West Darfur, South Darfur, and North 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
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

of London wrote that HRW has "all but eclipsed" Amnesty International. According to The Times, instead of being supporting 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.

Criticism



Human Rights Watch has been criticized in the media and accused of engaging in weak research and propagating false reports. Robert Bernstein, a founder and former chairman of the Human Rights Watch, is one such critic of the organization’s current research practices. In a New York Times article, Bernstein condemns the institution for no longer placing emphasis on the distinction between open and closed societies; this, he argues, is particularly discernible in its reports on the Middle East. Bernstein argues that Iran and most Arab regimes are notoriously autocratic and closed. While civil liberties vary across the region, the rule of law
Rule of law
The rule of law, sometimes called supremacy of law, is a legal maxim that says that governmental decisions should be made by applying known principles or laws with minimal discretion in their application...

 is less common than a state of emergency
State of emergency
A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, alert citizens to change their normal behaviours, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. It can also be used as a rationale...

. Israel's history of democracy for its citizens includes a free press, elections and a variety of human rights and political organizations. Some argue this means Israel should be held to a higher standard. Bernstein, however, Human Rights Watch's reproaches of Israel for international law violations fail to stress the country's democratic nature. . Bernstein also censures the organization for depending on unreliable sources in its research, claiming that its reporting “often relies on witnesses whose stories cannot be verified and who may testify for political advantage or because they fear retaliation from their own rulers” .. This offense in the institution’s research methods makes it impossible to know where and when international laws are actually being violated.
Outside of the accusations the Human Rights Watch has received for its poor research practices, the organization is also under strong speculation of using selection bias, particularly regarding Israeli affairs. There has been wide insistence that the organization’s consistently intense coverage of Israeli violations and simultaneous neglect of other human rights abusing regimes is an issue that must be confronted. This apparent bias is particularly evident when comparing the organization’s coverage of Israel to that of Kashmir. The Human Rights Watch has released four reports over the last twenty years on the dissidence in Kashmir, a region known for its wide-scale systematic murders and over 80,000 conflict-related deaths within that time frame. This, compared to the five detailed reports that the institution has issued on Israel within a mere fourteen months .

Recent controversies


Robert L. Bernstein
Robert L. Bernstein
-Career in Publishing:Bernstein started as an office boy at Simon & Schuster in 1946, moved to Random House in 1956 and succeeded Bennett Cerf as President and CEO in 1966. He served as the President of Random House for 25 years. He published many great American authors, including William...

, a founder and former chairman of HRW, argued in October 2009 that "Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective" on events in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

. Bernstein argued that "[t]he region is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region." Tom Porteus, director of the London branch of Human Rights Watch, replied that the organization rejected Bernstein's "obvious double standard. Any credible human rights organisation must apply the same human rights standards to all countries."

Strong criticism against Human Rights Watch was caused by the Organization's declarations in favour of CIA illegal actions of Extraordinary rendition towards suspected terrorists.

Human Rights Watch made headlines in September 2009 when its Middle East military analyst, Marc Garlasco
Marc Garlasco
Marc Garlasco is an American former senior military expert for Human Rights Watch who specialized in battle damage assessment, military operations, and interrogations for the Emergencies Division...

 who led investigations into Israeli wars in Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 and Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

, was found posing on the internet dressed in a sweat shirt with a German Iron Cross
Iron Cross
The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

. After pressure from the media HRW suspended Marc with pay pending an investigation. Several media reports highlighted his interest in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 artifacts and accused him of collecting Nazi memorabilia. Garlasco has said that the allegations of Nazi sympathies were "defamatory nonsense, spread maliciously by people with an interest in trying to undermine Human Rights Watch's reporting." HRW has said the charges leveled against Garlasco are "demonstrably false" and fit "into a campaign to deflect attention from Human Rights Watch's rigorous and detailed reporting on violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by the Israeli government".

In February 2011, HRW appointed Shawan Jabarin to their Mideast Advisory Board. Jabarin is a very controversial figure, labeled "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by the Israeli Supreme Court
Supreme court
A supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, instance court, judgment court, high court, or apex court...

, for his dual roles in both the terrorist organization PFLP, and the human rights organization, Al Haq
Al Haq
Al-Haq is an independent Palestinian human rights organization founded in 1979 and based in Ramallah in the West Bank. It monitors and documents human rights violations by all parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, issuing reports on its findings and producing detailed legal studies.Al-Haq...

. HRW’s decision to include Jabarin on its Mideast Board sparked criticism from Robert L. Bernstein
Robert L. Bernstein
-Career in Publishing:Bernstein started as an office boy at Simon & Schuster in 1946, moved to Random House in 1956 and succeeded Bennett Cerf as President and CEO in 1966. He served as the President of Random House for 25 years. He published many great American authors, including William...

, a founder of HRW, Stuart Robinowitz, a prominent New York attorney who has undertaken human-rights missions for the American Bar Association
American Bar Association
The American Bar Association , founded August 21, 1878, is a voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students, which is not specific to any jurisdiction in the United States. The ABA's most important stated activities are the setting of academic standards for law schools, and the formulation...

 and Helsinki Watch
Helsinki Watch
Helsinki Watch was a private American NGO devoted to monitoring Helsinki implementation throughout the Soviet bloc. It was created in 1978 to monitor compliance to the Helsinki Final Act...

 (the predecessor to HRW) in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and El Salvador, and Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the president of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor
NGO Monitor
NGO Monitor is a non-governmental organization based in Jerusalem, Israel whose stated aim is to generate and distribute critical analysis and reports on the output of the international NGO community for the benefit of government policy makers, journalists, philanthropic organizations and the...

.

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, February 24, 2011, after the Libyan civil war intensified, Sarah Leah Whitson
Sarah Leah Whitson
Sarah Leah Whitson is an American human rights activist and director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch.-Early life and education :Whitson was reared by a mother who was born in the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem's Old City...

, head of the Middle East and North Africa division of HRW, acknowledged the absence of human rights reforms in Libya and said “With no progress on any institutional or legal reforms. For sure, most Libyans we spoke with never had much faith that Moammar Qaddafi would learn new tricks, or that the announced reforms were anything more than an endless loop of promises made and broken.” Jeffrey Goldberg
Jeffrey Goldberg
Jeffrey Mark Goldberg is an American journalist. He is an author and a staff writer for The Atlantic, having previously worked for The New Yorker. Goldberg writes principally on foreign affairs, with a focus on the Middle East and Africa...

, writing in the Atlantic Monthly, took Whitson to task for her having had "something of a soft spot" for Qaddafi and his son.

See also


  • American Freedom Campaign
    American Freedom Campaign
    The American Freedom Campaign is an organization that has as its goal to put restoration of the Constitution on the agenda for Democratic presidential candidates, roughly parallel to the goal of the American Freedom Agenda for Republican candidates, although Democratic and Republican candidates...

  • Avocats Sans Frontières
    Avocats Sans Frontières
    Avocats Sans Frontières , also known as Advocaten Zonder Grenzen is an international non-governmental organization contributing to the creation of fair and equitable societies, in which the law and its institutions serve the most vulnerable groups and individuals...

  • Democracy Watch (International)
    Democracy Watch (International)
    Democracy Watch is a website which promotes direct voting, without the use of representatives as intermediaries.-External links:* *...

  • Freedom House
    Freedom House
    Freedom House is an international non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C. that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights...

  • Helsinki Committee for Human Rights
    Helsinki Committee for Human Rights
    The Helsinki Committees for Human Rights exist in many European countries as volunteer, non-profit organizations devoted to human rights and presumably named after the Helsinki Accords...

  • Human Rights First
    Human Rights First
    Human Rights First is a nonprofit, nonpartisan human rights organization based in New York City and Washington, D.C....

  • International Freedom of Expression Exchange
    International Freedom of Expression Exchange
    The International Freedom of Expression eXchange , founded in 1992, is a global network of around 90 non-governmental organisations that promotes and defends the right to freedom of expression....

  • US Human Rights Network
    US Human Rights Network
    The US Human Rights Network is a national network composed of over 200 self-identified grassroots human rights organizations and over 700 individuals working to strengthen what they regard as the protection of human rights in the United States...


External links