Human Rights Watch

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


[edit] Profile

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 <ref>Hellman-Hammett Grants,Human Rights Watch</ref>.

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. <ref>Financial statement,Human Rights Watch</ref>

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. <ref>Kenneth Roth Bio,Human Rights Watch</ref>

[edit] Issues and campaigns

[edit] Recent

Human Rights Watch made recent headlines by criticizing 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 <ref>Middle east and North Africa,Human Rights Watch</ref>.

[edit] Publications

Human Rights Watch publishes reports on several topics <ref>Publications,Human Rights Watch</ref> 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 <ref>Rwandan genocide report,Human Rights Watch</ref> and the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo <ref>Congo report,Human Rights Watch</ref>.

[edit] Comparison with Amnesty International

Human Rights Watch is much smaller than Amnesty International. It is US-based, whereas Amnesty is UK-based. Human Rights Watch's main products are its crisis-directed research and lengthy reports, whereas Amnesty 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.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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[edit] External links

[edit] Human Rights Watch website

[edit] Critical viewpoints

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Human Rights Watch

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