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The Work of Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch continued to focus on identifying the root causes of deplorable human rights violations in Africa. Human Rights Watch also dedicated significant resources toward improving relationships with local human rights groups and exploring ways of working together.

Human Rights Watch stepped up a three-track approach to expanding cooperation with local African nongovernmental organizations, striving to develop relationships with them based on interdependence, long-term commitment, and solidarity. A key strategic goal was to increase local NGOs' influence throughout the human rights movement in Africa by facilitating their access to Human Rights Watch's wide range of expertise.

First, in the context of massive human rights violations in the Great Lakes area, Human Rights Watch implemented a Great Lakes NGO field initiative to strengthen the research, networking, and advocacy capacity of NGOs. Second, Human Rights Watch promoted an African Fellows program that trained experienced human rights activists. The program developed the skills of those activists by exposing them to international partners, advanced research methodologies, and the international advocacy arena. Last, Human Rights Watch remained committed to protesting abuses against human rights activists in Africa.

Human Rights Watch continued to cover all of sub-Saharan Africa and expanded monitoring of French-speaking countries, but focused intensively on a nucleus of countries: Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia. Additionally, the Africa division undertook cross-country, thematic research on arms flows, resources and corporate responsibility, national human rights commissions, the rights of children and women, refugees and the internally displaced, and prisons. Human Rights Watch maintained field offices in Kigali and Freetown-in Rwanda and Sierra Leone respectively-and created a new field office in Bujumbura, Burundi.

The Africa division fielded investigative missions to Angola, DRC, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia, and also collaborated with the Arms, Children's Rights and Women's Rights divisions in their work on Angola, DRC, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

Concerned that noncombatants, refugees, and internally displaced persons were under severe attack, the Africa division published numerous reports and briefing documents on Angola, Burundi, DRC, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone to raise international awareness.

Moreover, given the sporadic nature of high-level international attention devoted to Africa, it was especially important to ensure that Human Rights Watch policy recommendations focus on political rights issues as well as security and economics. Human Rights Watch remained active in advocating for aid conditionality at the World Bank Consultative Group (CG) meetings for Zambia. In July, Human Rights Watch launched a report at the CG meeting in Lusaka to encourage donors to continue to make balance of payments support conditional uponimprovements in human rights practices. Human Rights Watch's information formed the basis of policy recommendations to guide donors' aid programs to these countries, and made clear recommendations to the governments in question.

The Africa division devoted significant resources toward advocacy during the year, especially targeting the United States and British governments, the U.N., and the E.U.. The Africa division's advocacy efforts focused on Angola, Nigeria and the crises in the Great Lakes, particularly Burundi and DRC, where it played a major role in providing information and analysis about a range of human rights abuses.

Human Rights Watch was called to testify before U.S. congressional committees on four occasions, dealing with the situation in Sudan and the ongoing crisis in the Great Lakes. Human Rights Watch held numerous briefings for congressional staff about its research and implications of U.S. policy. These analyses were also presented to administration officials on numerous occasions in official roundtables and in a series of meetings held with officials of the Department of State, the National Security Council, and the Pentagon.

In regular meetings, briefings, and submissions at the U.N., Human Rights Watch advocated for human rights. The organization continuously expressed concerns to the Security Council and the secretary-general about events in Sierra Leone. Human Rights Watch underlined the need for the U.N. to establish a criminal process to bring gross abusers of human rights to justice, to strengthen the U.N. mandate and capacity to protect civilians in Sierra Leone, and to address violations of the U.N. arms embargo by Sierra Leonean rebels. Human Rights Watch remained active in pressing the E.U., the OAU and the Commonwealth to focus on human rights issues, especially those with a bearing on Angola, DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan.

Human Rights Watch focus on the need for accountability for human rights abuses stressed the need for justice at the national and international level in order to stop the cycles of violence in Africa. The Africa division worked with intergovernmental organizations, governments, and local human rights activists to compel abusers to adhere to internationally recognized human rights standards.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

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