Human Rights Watch honors human rights defenders from around the world with our highest tribute, the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism. The award is named after Dr. Alison Des Forges, senior adviser to Human Rights Watch's Africa division for almost two decades, who died in a plane crash in New York on February 12, 2009. Des Forges was the leading expert on the 1994 Rwanda genocide and its aftermath. Human Rights Watch's award commemorates her outstanding commitment to, and defense of, human rights. It celebrates the valor of people who put their lives on the line to protect the dignity and rights of others.
Read about past human rights defenders honored by Human Rights Watch