Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an independent organization dedicated to protecting and defending human rights across the globe. HRW aims to give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their actions. This organization conducts investigations and engages in advocacy that builds pressure on lawmakers and on the general public to support human rights.
HRW has operated for more than 30 years and has received Charity Navigator’s highest rating of four stars. It was founded in 1978 as part of Helsinki Watch, an organization designed to support the citizens groups formed throughout the Soviet bloc to monitor government compliance with the 1975 Helsinki Accords.
Its members began using the “naming and shaming” approach, publicly describing human rights abuses in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, as a way to foster change. In 1981, during the bloody civil wars in Central America, America’s Watch was created for the same purpose. In the 1980s, Asia Watch, Africa Watch, and Middle East Watch were added, until they were merged and took the name Human Rights Watch in 1988. In 1997, HRW shared the Nobel Peace Prize for its work as a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which was a leader in pushing forward the 2008 treaty banning cluster munitions.
HRW publishes reports on human rights issues across the globe. Its website (www.hrw.org) offers a search feature so that interested persons can browse by region or topics. General topics include arms, business, children’s rights, counter-terrorism, disability rights, health, international justice, economic, social and cultural rights, LGBT rights, migrants, press freedom, refugees, terrorism, torture, the United Nations, and women’s rights. In addition to regular updates related to each of these topics, HRW has published many lengthier reports and multimedia exposes. Each year, the organization authors the “State of the World’s Human Rights” report and sponsors a human rights film festival.
In regard to schools and education, HRW authored an important piece documenting and critiquing the use of corporal punishment in the United States. Its news reports regularly offer scathing criticism of harsh punishments and abuse in other countries. Reports also document students’ inability to obtain education in countries such as Israel and Pakistan, where fighting prohibits them from attending school. In addition, HRW has documented sexual abuse in schools, terrorist attacks against schools, and discrimination against students.
- Human Rights Watch: www.hrw.org