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 Berlin, Brussels, Chicago,
Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San
Francisco, Tokyo, Toronto, and Washington D.C.
Rights Watch was founded under the name Helsinki Watch in 1978 to monitor the former
Union's compliance with the Helsinki Accords.
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 Eastern Europe, Helsinki
Watch contributed to the democratic transformations of 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 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, 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, the organization formally adopted the
all-inclusive name Human Rights Watch. In 1988, all of the
committees were united under one umbrella to form Human Rights
Robert Bernstein, one of the founders of HRW, has argued that "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." Jane Olson and Jonathan Fanton wrote "we were
saddened to see Robert L. Bernstein argue that Israel should be
judged by a different human rights standard than the rest of the
world" and "as long as open societies commit human rights abuses,
Human Rights Watch has a vital role to play in documenting those
violations and advocating to bring them to an end." Human Rights
Watch noted that Bernstein brought his concerns to the Human Rights
Watch Board of Directors in April 2009 and also noted that the
board unanimously rejected his view that Human Rights Watch should
report only on closed societies, and expressed its full support for
the organization's work.
Rights Watch criticized the Jordanian government for arresting elected officials who praised
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head
of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, at ceremonies
held in response to his death. Human Rights Watch
also spoke out against the mass killings and
government-imposed famines during the last
decade of former Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein's rule.
HRW denounced Spain for holding
hundreds of migrant children in emergency centers in the Canary Islands.
They were living in squalid, overcrowded
conditions and faced the risk of abuse from their custodians and
other children. The Canary Islands government, which runs the
facilities, replied in a statement that the report lacked "rigor"
and that "an internal investigation had failed to corroborate"
Human Rights Watch's findings.
In 2008, Venezuela expelled the organization for its criticism of
Human Rights Watch made headlines in September 2009 when its Middle
East military analyst, Marc Garlasco
was suspended with pay pending an investigation after several media
reports highlighted his interest in Second World War artifacts and
accused him of collecting Nazi
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". Corey Flintoff
that "critics of Human Rights Watch have suggested that Garlasco's
enthusiasm for Nazi-era badges and uniforms goes beyond historical
interest and makes him a Nazi sympathizer or anti-Semite."
Pursuant to the Universal Declaration of
, Human Rights Watch opposes violations of what it
considers basic human rights, which include capital punishment
and discrimination on
the basis of sexual
. 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 and generate coverage in local and international
. Issues raised by Human Rights
Watch in its reports include social and gender discrimination
, military use of children
, political corruption
, abuses in
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
set up in her name and that of her long-time companion, the
novelist Dashiell Hammett
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
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.
The current executive director of Human Rights Watch is Kenneth Roth
at a salary of $350,000. He has
held this position since 1993. Roth is a graduate of Yale Law School and Brown
father fled Nazi Germany
started working on human rights after the declaration of martial
law in Poland in 1981, and
later became engaged in Haiti.
Human Rights Watch is a founding member of the International
Freedom of Expression Exchange
, a global network of non-governmental organizations
that monitor censorship
Human Rights Watch employs more than 275 human rights professionals
comprised of country experts, lawyers, journalists, and
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.
HRW published the following program and support services spending
details for the financial year ending June 2008.
|Europe and Central Asia
|Middle East and North Africa
|Management and general
Some notable staff members of Human Rights Watch have
Issues and campaigns
Human Rights Watch World Report
Human Rights Watch publishes reports on several topics
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 and the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Comparison with Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty
are the only two western-oriented international
human rights organizations operating worldwide in most situations
of severe oppression or abuse. Though close allies, the two groups
play complementary roles, reflecting a division of labour . The
major differences lie in the groups’ structure and methods for
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
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.
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 less
analysis, and instead focus on specific abuses of rights.
There are some small differences in policy: for example, Human
Rights Watch believes that women should have the right to wear a
veil whereas Amnesty has no policy on this issue.
Criticism of Human Rights Watch may be classified into four major
categories: accusations of poor research methods producing
inaccurate reports, accusations of selection bias
, accusations of ideological
bias, and questions regarding their
funding practices. In the second category, Human Rights Watch has
been criticized for perceived biases that are anti-Israeli,
anti-Western, anti-China, anti-Serb
anti-Sri Lankan, ignoring anti-semitism, anti-Ethiopian government,
and pro-USA. In the third category, Human Rights Watch
was recently accused of using anti-Israeli sentiment to elicit
support while fund-raising in Saudi Arabia.
- The Guardian: Credible approach on human
- New York Times: Crossfire: A Rights Group and
- Human Rights Watch: Why We Report on 'Open'
- Middle east and North Africa,Human Rights
- Human Rights Watch says migrant children are at
risk in Canary Islands,International Herald
- Reuters News retrieved September 22, 2009
- Israelis See Clear Bias in Activist, New York
Times, John Schwartz, September 14, 2009
- Hellman-Hammett Grants,Human Rights
- Human Rights Watch: Our People
- Rwandan genocide report,Human Rights
- Congo report,Human Rights Watch
- Human rights group says activists detained in
Discrimination in the Name of Neutrality
- Human Rights Watch hell-bent on attacking Sri Lankan
- Human Right Watch is now trying to block the IMF
- Anti-Semitism in Europe: Fighting
- The government says Human Rights Watch got it Wrong. Really?
Economist Feb 7, 2009, p. 41
- ZNet |Haiti | Haiti and Human Rights Watch
- Keinon, Herb. "Diplomacy: Israel vs. Human Rights Watch."
Post. 18 July 2009. 18 July 2009.
- Bernstein, David. "Human Rights Watch Goes to Saudi Arabia."
The Wall Street Journal. 15
July 2009. 15 July 2009.