Conflicts and repression have forced record numbers of people to flee their homes and seek safe haven in other countries. They arrive in countries already facing growing discontent from people who feel left behind by technological change and the global economy. Beyond the major humanitarian challenge posed, this movement of people into this volatile context has sparked a pernicious reaction.
Political discourse across Europe, the United States, and elsewhere now regularly demonizes Muslims and scapegoats refugees. Polarizing “us-versus-them” rhetoric no longer resides on only the fringe but has moved dangerously close to the center. Leaders have now come to power spouting a shocking disregard for basic human rights.
In partnership with those who share its values, Human Rights Watch is combating these profound new challenges. We are fighting the explosion of racism, xenophobia, and intolerance that is threatening the very fabric of democratic government. We are standing up for human rights and the rule of law when some political leaders seek to impose their vision of the majority will.
Human Rights Watch has the tools to meet these threats. We have proven expertise investigating human rights violations reliably and credibly even in circumstances that are deeply contested. We have extensive experience communicating our message widely to the public through traditional and social media, injecting sober facts and principles even when incendiary rhetoric is dominating discourse. And we have a long record of achieving concrete change by generating intense pressure on those in power. These are the tools we use to protect the rights of those most vulnerable to abuse—refugees, women, children, people with disabilities, sexual minorities—and everyone else.
Thank you for joining us to promote respect for human rights around the globe.
Hassan Elmasry Bob Kissane Kenneth Roth
Board Co-Chair Board Co-Chair Executive Director
Human Rights Watch defends the rights of people worldwide. We scrupulously investigate abuses, expose the facts widely, and pressure those with power to respect rights and secure justice. Human Rights Watch is an independent, international organization that works as part of a vibrant movement to uphold human dignity and advance the cause of human rights for all.
Human Rights Watch launched its Korean affiliate on February 14, 2017. As a registered charity in Seoul, we will benefit the community by advancing education on human rights issues through publications, lectures, film screenings, and awards. We actively organize and participate in broad public awareness and outreach campaigns to expose human rights abuses and share these findings with Korean media, policy makers, and the public.
We conduct advocacy in Seoul to increase Human Rights Watch’s visibility and ensure that our findings reach those who can implement change on the highest level.
We are an independent, nongovernmental organization, that accepts no government funding and is supported solely by contributions from private individuals and foundations in South Korea and across the globe.
Human Rights Watch researchers uncover human rights violations by deploying immediately to the sites of abuse and speaking firsthand with victims, witnesses, and authorities to investigate and document abuses. By raising our findings in local and global media and with governments and international institutions, we generate intense global pressure on decision-makers for action and raise the cost for perpetrators of committing abuse. We work with local activists to make sure their voices are heard on the international level, and we use our incontrovertible evidence to secure justice for victims.
To learn more about Human Rights Watch’s research and advocacy on a wide range of pressing human rights issues in Korea, please visit the following country research pages: North Korea and South Korea.
How We Work
Human Rights Watch began in 1978 with the creation of Helsinki Watch, designed to support the citizens groups formed throughout the Soviet bloc to monitor government compliance with the 1975 Helsinki Accords. Helsinki Watch adopted a methodology of publicly "naming and shaming" abusive governments through media coverage and through direct exchanges with policymakers.
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 abuses by government forces, but applied international humanitarian law to investigate and expose war crimes by rebel groups.
In rapid succession in the 1980s, Asia Watch (1985), Africa Watch (1988), and Middle East Watch (1989) were added to what was then known as "The Watch Committees." In 1988, the organization formally adopted the all-inclusive name Human Rights Watch.
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Support Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. To ensure our independence, we do not accept government funds, directly or indirectly. Donations made in Korea benefit our work worldwide.