World Report 2021

Our annual review of human rights around the globe

World Report 2021, Human Rights Watch’s 31st annual review of human rights practices and trends around the globe, reviews developments in more than 100 countries.

In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth calls on the incoming US administration to more deeply embed respect for human rights as an element of domestic and foreign policy to counter the “wild oscillations in human rights policy” that in recent decades have come with each new resident of the White House. Roth emphasizes that even as the Trump administration mostly abandoned the protection of human rights, joined by China, Russia and others, other governments—typically working in coalition and some new to the cause—stepped forward to champion rights. As it works to entrench rights protections, the Biden administration should seek to join, not supplant, this new collective effort.

The report reflects investigative work that Human Rights Watch staff undertook in 2020, usually in close partnership with human rights activists in the country in questions. It also reflects the work of our advocacy team, which monitors policy developments and strives to persuade governments and international institutions to curb abuses and promote human rights.

As in past years, the World Report does not include a chapter on every country where Human Rights Watch works, nor does it discuss every issue of importance. The absence of a particular country or issues often simply reflects staffing limitations and should not be taken as commentary on the significance of the problem. They are many serious human rights violations that Human Rights Watch simply lacks the capacity to address.

This year’s World Report is dedicated to the memory of Dan Baum and Mickey Spiegel, beloved colleagues whom we lost in 2020 but remember every day.

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