Robert L. Bernstein

Robert L. Bernstein (In Memoriam 1923—2019)

Founding Chair, 1978-1998; Former Chairman & President, 1966-1990, Random House

“Bob Bernstein thought big. He believed citizens could take on entrenched dictatorships and get them to change their ways. He also thought small, by focusing on victims of abuse. He never let us forget the word ‘human’ in Human Rights Watch.”

—Jeri Laber, Co-founder, Human Rights Watch

Bob Bernstein, who died in May 2019, was a leading publisher who devoted his life to the defense of human rights and free expression. In the late 1970s, Bob convened the small group of activists that ultimately became Human Rights Watch. Bob served as our first board chair, then founding chair emeritus. Bob’s legacy includes the Bernstein fellowships for aspiring activists at Yale and New York Universities. We will miss Bob’s creative activism and his ability to inspire others to join the human rights cause.