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|Headquarters||Empire State Building|
New York City, United States
|Focus||Human rights activism|
|Formerly called||Helsinki Watch|
|Headquarters||Empire State Building|
New York City, United States
|Focus||Human rights activism|
|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 Berlin, Beirut, 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 of 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.
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 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, 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.
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 four out of four-star overall rating .
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 this policy is violated by support from the Dutch government and a May 2009 fund raising trip to Saudi Arabia.
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.
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:
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 Human Rights Watch has published extensively on the subjects such as Rwandan Genocide of 1994 and the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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 United States government policy, in particular in relation to reporting on Latin America; ignoring anti-Semitism in Europe or being anti-Semitic; 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 that requesting or accepting donations from Saudi Arabian citizens causes it to be biased; it has also been accused of unbalanced reporting against Hezbollah in Lebanon and against Palestinian militant groups.
The Washington Post reports that Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the report was "one-sided and deeply flawed." Iraqi government spokesman, Ali Hadi al-Moussawi said that it "relied on sources that are inaccurate, biased and not factual." Writing in China Daily, Shen Hui says that "the report seriously lacks in objectivity and impartiality." Robin Sheppard, writing in The Jewish Chronicle, says that western governments should not believe report's message that "much like the revolutions that upended Eastern Europe in 1989, the Arab upheavals were inspired by a vision of freedom, a desire for a voice in one's destiny, and a quest for governments that are accountable to the public rather than captured by a ruling elite." Sheppard continues and says that it is not a 'vision of freedom' and that referring to 1989 is "dangerously misleading." Sheppard, however, is offering his own commentary when he says that "hostility to Israel is deeply intertwined with the kind of vitriolic mass antisemitism".
|It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Criticism of Human Rights Watch. (Discuss) Proposed since February 2011.|
Robert L. Bernstein, 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. 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."
Human Rights Watch made headlines in September 2009 when its Middle East military analyst, Marc Garlasco who led investigations into Israeli wars in Lebanon and Gaza, was found posing on the internet dressed in a sweat shirt with a German Iron Cross. After pressure from the media HRW suspended Marc with pay pending an investigation. Several media reports highlighted his interest in World War II 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, for his dual roles in both the terrorist organization PFLP, and the human rights organization, Al Haq. HRW’s decision to include Jabarin on its Mideast Board sparked criticism from Robert L. Bernstein, a founder of HRW, Stuart Robinowitz, a prominent New York attorney who has undertaken human-rights missions for the American Bar Association and Helsinki Watch (the predecessor to HRW) in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and El Salvador, and Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the president of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor.
In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, February 24, 2011, after the 2011 Libyan civil war intensified, Sarah Leah Whitson, 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 [Muammar Gaddafi] would learn new tricks, or that the announced reforms were anything more than an endless loop of promises made and broken.” Jeffrey Goldberg, writing in the Atlantic Monthly, took Whitson to task for her having had "something of a soft spot" for Gaddafi and his son.
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