Where are you located?
How large is the staff of Human Rights Watch?
How do you research human rights abuses?
How do you achieve change?
How do you decide which countries to focus on?
Why is it important to document human rights abuses?
Who relies on your reporting?
Who funds Human Rights Watch?
Does Human Rights Watch address social, cultural, and economic rights?
Does Human Rights Watch aid people suffering from poverty?
How do you decide which reports to translate into other languages?
What is the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival and how can I bring it to my town?
Do you help out individuals?
How can I make a difference?

Where are you located?

Human Rights Watch has its headquarters in New York City.  We also have offices in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Nairobi, Paris, San Francisco, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Washington D.C., and Zurich. Our researchers are based in these offices or live in or near the country on which they work.

How large is the staff of Human Rights Watch?

As of 2015, Human Rights Watch employs roughly 400 staffers. We also hire experts as consultants for specific projects. Our work is supplemented with the generous help of volunteers and pro bono legal counsel.

How do you research human rights abuses?

Our on-the-ground researchers constantly monitor human rights conditions in some 90 countries around the world. These researchers create the foundations of our work by talking with people who were either abused or who witnessed abuse. Human Rights Watch also speaks with local human rights advocates, journalists, country experts, and government officials. We publish our findings in more than 100 reports and hundreds of news releases each year. In times of crisis, we're at the forefront, releasing up-to-the-minute information and advocating for action.

How do you achieve change?

Because of our insider access and careful fact-checking, international media and concerned governments frequently reference our research. We partner with local human rights groups, making detailed recommendations to governments, rebel groups, international institutions, corporations, policymakers, and the press to adopt reforms. By exposing their actions, we put pressure on human rights abusers to stop violating rights. Our efforts lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted changes in policy, law, and public opinion.

How do you decide which countries to focus on?

We try to strike a balance between working in countries where the most atrocious human rights violations occur and those where we can bring about the most change. In assessing trouble spots, we take into consideration the severity of the crimes being committed, the numbers of those affected, and our potential to have impact. Our thematic divisions, such as those working on women's rights and children's rights, typically look at specific problems in one or more countries that reflect global concerns. We consider whether our researchers will be able to obtain current and accurate information, either by going to the site of the abuse or by interviewing refugees, exiles, and other knowledgeable sources. We also are in constant communication with reliable local organizations. Although we outline a plan of action each year, we stay flexible, knowing that unforeseen crises will unfold and that we will sometimes need to quickly deploy emergency researchers. The more resources we have, the more trouble spots we cover.

Why is it important to document human rights abuses?

When we investigate and expose human rights violations, we seek to hold oppressors accountable to their population, to the international community, and to their obligations under international law. We seek to build the case for changes in law or policy, to empower local activism, and to put a name to abusive behaviors that in some local contexts are not identified as such. We work to bring the worst abusers before courts at home or before international tribunals. We seek targeted sanctions - those that harm the abusers but not the population at large. We work to increase the price of human rights abuse. The more tyrants we bring to justice, the more potential abusers will reconsider committing human rights violations.

Who relies on your reporting?

Because of our meticulous field research and reputation for impartiality, reporters, columnists, broadcasters, and editors, as well as policymakers of concerned governments, the United Nations, and other intergovernmental entities worldwide rely on our reports, citing our findings in their work. Our staffers answer thousands of media inquiries each year.  

Who funds Human Rights Watch?

We are a fully independent non-governmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. In order to maintain our independence, we accept no money from any government, directly or indirectly.

Does Human Rights Watch address social, cultural, and economic rights?

While Human Rights Watch and most other international human rights organizations have historically focused on civil and political rights, we have increasingly taken on social, cultural, and economic rights in our research and reporting. We have given particular attention to health, education, and housing. As our strength lies in pressuring policymakers to change their practices, our approach has been to target arbitrary or discriminatory government policies that result in the violation of economic, social, or cultural rights.

Does Human Rights Watch aid people suffering from poverty?

We address some underlying causes of poverty, such as discrimination, armed conflict, and displacement. We also speak out against human rights violations that exacerbate humanitarian crises, such as a state-controlled media or violent attacks on humanitarian agencies. We push governments and international financial institutions to incorporate human rights concerns into their economic development strategies.

How do you decide which reports to translate into other languages?

Our reports are produced in English, but we recognize the great value in issuing our reports in other languages, and especially in producing translations for the people most affected by whatever abuse we're targeting. Most of our translation budget is dedicated to translating reports into languages where there is a large and interested readership, and in ensuring that our information is accessible to the relevant policymakers. In choosing which materials to translate, we opt for the documents that have the broadest reach and will make the greatest impact in non-English languages. Despite limited resources, we translate as much of our work as possible for our Arabic, French, and Spanish websites, with more limited content available in Chinese, German, Japanese, and Russian. We also translate many documents into other relevant languages. If you would like to volunteer or support our translation work, please contact us.

What is the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival and how can I bring it to my town?

Because film can educate and inspire a broad constituency of concerned supporters, Human Rights Watch created the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival to showcase fictional, documentary, and animated films or videos with a human rights theme.

Anyone interested in licensing the traveling festival can select from a minimum of three to a maximum of all the film titles in the package, at a cost of $300 per title. You can license the package for the duration of one week or up to one semester. You will receive support materials, like images and press kits, from Human Rights Watch. For information, please visit the Film Festival Web site.

Do you help out individuals?

We do not represent individuals in legal matters or take on individual cases. When we receive such requests, we try to suggest organizations that can help.

How can I make a difference?

We rely on the generosity of individuals, and by donating money, you help us send researchers into the field, apply pressure on governments, rebel groups, corporations and other influential groups, and encourage the media to raise awareness about human rights. Knowledge is power, so sign up for our newsletter and stay informed. Assist our advocacy efforts by going to the Action Center link on our website and sending e-mails to important policymakers, pressuring them to make changes important to you. If you'd like to get more deeply involved, contact our Membership Desk at donorservice@hrw.org.

I have a question that is not answered on this page. Will you answer it?

Sure! If you have a question, just send it to us. We try to answer as many inquiries as we can.