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Human Rights Watch - Defending Human Rights Worldwide

What is HRW

HRW- Human Rights watch. HRW is an NGO which conducts research and fights for Human Rights world over and its headquarters are based in the United States- New York City. It’s an independent NGO which is ‘supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide’.

Job description

According to Human Rights Watch:

  • We stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice.
  • We investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable.
  • We challenge governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law.
  • We enlist the public and the international community to support the cause of human rights for all.

HRW fights for basic Human Rights, such as capital punishment and discrimination based on sexual orientation. They also advocate freedom of religion and freedom of press. Issues Raised by HRW include Academic freedom, AIDS and Human Rights, Arms, Caste Discrimination, Child soldiers, Corporations and Human Rights, Counterterrorism, Diplomatic Assurances, Drugs and Human Rights, Economics Social and cultural rights, Free Expression on the Internet, Human Rights Defenders, International Criminal Court, International Justice, Labor and Human Rights, Lesbian and Gay rights, Press freedom, Prison conditions and treatment of prisoners, Racism and Human rights, Refugees, Religious freedom, Terrorism, Torture and Abuse, Opportunism Watch: Repression in the name of Anti- Terrorism, Women’s Rights.

HRW sends fact finding missions to different parts of the world in order to collect data on these and other issues pertaining to Human Rights. After collection of data, they present this data in dozens of books and publications. This helps to bring the issue under the radar of local and international media. HRW also sends delegations to meet up with government officials and policymakers in order to persuade them to change their policies and practices.


Helsinki Watch was setup in 1978, in order to monitor the compliance of the soviet block to the Helsinki Accords. In 1980’s Americas watch was set up in order to observe Human Rights violations in Central America. The organization grew in 1988 when all the ‘watch’ committees united to cover other regions of the world, thus HRW was born.

Recent Action

Human Rights Watch recently made headlines by criticizing the Jordanian government for their arrest of official who praised Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Human Rights Watch was also involved in the criticism of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s rule, for his mass killings and government-imposed famines. HRW also announced that migrant children held in emergency centers in the Spanish Canary Islands were living in ‘squalid, overcrowded condition’; these claims were rejected by the Canary Islands government.

Prominent Cases and Impacts of HRW

Conflict between Georgia and Russia in August 2008 brought HRW into action once more. The conflict took place in the region of South Ossetia. Both parties gave inaccurate accounts of the death toll and conditions that people of the region had to bear due to the conflict. HRW sent a fact finding mission and provided accurate figures on the death toll; which initially was thought to be a lot higher. The information provided by HRW had an impact on the war, initially Russian troops stood idle as Ossetian forces plundered ethnic Georgian Villages, but after the HRW exposed the plundering, Russian troops acted to stop the plunderers. HRW also exposed the use of cluster ammunition by Russia and Georgia. This resulted in Georgia considering a treaty to ban the use of this weapon.

One of the biggest successes of HRW was getting the congress to pass a law that permitted the US to prosecute foreign military commanders who recruit child soldiers. The Act allows the US to prosecute any US citizen and non-citizen, who knowingly recruits a soldier under the age of 15 and it prompts action against such a person if he/she is on US soil. This has already had an affect on Sri Lankan rebel leaders who cancelled the trip to the US after the legislation was passed.

Recent Publications

  • Not the Way Forward

The UK’s Dangerous Reliance on Diplomatic Assurances

  • A Way Forward for Workers’ Rights in US Free Trade Accords
  • Returns at Any Cost

Spain’s Push to Repatriate Unaccompanied Children in the Absence of Safeguards

  • Breaking the Grip?

Obstacles to Justice for Paramilitary Mafias in Colombia

  • Torture and Impunity in Jordan’s Prisons

Reforms Fail to Tackle Widespread Abuse

  • "Why Am I Still Here?"

The 2007 Horn of Africa Renditions and the Fate of Those Still Missing

  • Mixed Results

US Policy and International Standards on the Rights and Interests of Victims of Crime

  • The Ismailis of Najran

Second-class Saudi Citizens

  • A Decade Under Chávez

Political Intolerance and Lost Opportunities for Advancing Human Rights in Venezuela

  • Iran: Rights Crisis Escalates

Faces and Cases from Ahmadinejad’s Crackdown




Human Rights Watch
New York NY
United States 10018



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