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Human Rights Watch
History and Background

More than 240 dedicated professionals work for Human Rights Watch around the world. We are lawyers, journalists, academics, and country experts of many nationalities and diverse backgrounds. We often join forces with human rights groups from other countries to further our common goals. A growing cadre of volunteers supports us.
Human Rights Watch is the largest human rights organization based in the United States. Human Rights Watch researchers conduct fact-finding investigations into human rights abuses in all regions of the world. Human Rights Watch then publishes those findings in dozens of books and reports every year, generating extensive coverage in local and international media. This publicity helps to embarrass abusive governments in the eyes of their citizens and the world. Human Rights Watch then meets with government officials to urge changes in policy and practice -- at the United Nations, the European Union, in Washington and in capitals around the world. In extreme circumstances, Human Rights Watch presses for the withdrawal of military and economic support from governments that egregiously violate the rights of their people. In moments of crisis, Human Rights Watch provides up-to-the-minute information about conflicts while they are underway. Refugee accounts, which were collected, synthesized and cross-corroborated by our researchers, helped shape the response of the international community to recent wars in Kosovo and Chechnya.

Human Rights Watch started in 1978 as Helsinki Watch, to monitor the compliance of Soviet bloc countries with the human rights provisions of the landmark Helsinki Accords. In the 1980''s, Americas Watch was set up to counter the notion that human rights abuses by one side in the war in Central America were somehow more tolerable than abuses by the other side. The organization grew to cover other regions of the world, until all the "Watch" committees were united in 1988 to form Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch is based in New York, with offices in Brussels, London, Moscow, Paris, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tashkent, Toronto, and Washington. We often set up temporary offices in regions where we''re conducting intensive investigations, and our researchers regularly travel to the countries they cover, unless security concerns prevent it. In cyberspace, Human Rights Watch is located at www.hrw.org. Human Rights Watch tracks developments in more than 70 countries around the world. We also follow issues in women''s rights, children''s rights, and the flow of arms to abusive forces. Other special projects include academic freedom, the human rights responsibilities of corporations, international justice, prisons, drugs, and refugees. Any and all parties to conflict may find themselves the target of Human Rights Watch. We have exposed abuses by governments and rebels; by Hutu and Tutsi; by Serb, Croat, Bosniak Muslim, and Kosovar Albanian; by Israelis and Palestinians; by Christians and Muslims in the islands of Indonesia and the sands of the Sudan. We frequently call on the United States to support human rights in its foreign policy -- but we also report on human rights abuse inside the United States, such as prison conditions, police abuse, the detention of immigrants, and the death penalty.

Human Rights Watch believes that international standards of human rights apply to all people equally, and that sharp vigilance and timely protest can prevent the tragedies of the twentieth century from recurring. At Human Rights Watch, we remain convinced that progress can be made when people of good will organize themselves to make it happen.

It is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world.

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.

Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. It accepts no government funds, directly or indirectly.

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