Human Rights Watch


Alternate Names: Africa Watch, Helsinki Watch
Duration: 1978 - present
Location: New York, United States


In 1978, under the direction of founder and former chair Robert L. Bernstein, Human Rights Watch (HRW) was established as Helsinki Watch (HW). HW's mission was to monitor the compliance of the former Soviet Union and the other communist bloc countries with the human rights provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. As the organization has grown, it has formed other watch committees to cover other regions of the world including Africa. In 1988, all of the committees were united under one organization to form Human Rights Watch. These watch committees produce research reports on violations of international human rights norms as set out by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally-accepted human rights norms. These reports are intended to draw international attention to human rights abuses and to put pressure on governments and international organizations to reform. In the ensuing years, besides issuing reports, HRW has also expanded its collaborative lobbying efforts to expose human rights abuses throughout the world. Human Rights Watch, for example, was one of six international NGOs that established the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers in 1998. In turn, it is also the co-chair of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a global coalition of civil society groups that have successfully lobbied to introduce the Ottawa Convention, a treaty that prohibits the use of anti-personnel landmines. Finally, HRW is an original member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, a global network of nongovernmental organizations that monitor censorship worldwide.

Organizational Archive


Title: Human Rights Watch Archives
Time Span: 1952 - 2003 (Bulk, 1978 - 1994) Later material will be added.
Description: The Human Rights Watch archive offers a unique, comprehensive view of human rights conditions in more than 70 nations around the world during the last two-and-a-half decades, and provides a complete picture of the investigative, public education, and lobbying activities of this world-renowned organization. It includes administrative files, public relations documents, as well as case and country files. Materials include correspondence and e-mail communications, professional and personal field notes, testimonies and interviews, material on research methodology, addresses and contact lists, confidential interoffice memos, legal and advocacy material, internal planning and policy material, declassified government and United Nations documents, published and unpublished human rights reports from individuals and fellow non-governmental organizations (NGOs), press clippings and news releases, as well as regional maps, posters and audiovisual material. Another category of documents consists of HRW reports and briefing papers, as well as press releases and open letters to heads of state, governments and various government agencies.
Housed At: Columbia University Libraries, Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research, Human Rights Organization Archives
Location: 535 West 114th Street, 6th Floor, New York, New York,10027, United States
Catalog/Finding Aid: view
Restrictions: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library Reading Room. Please consult the Rare Book and Manuscript Library for further information. Some parts of the HRW Records are restricted. Restrictions are noted in scope and content notes and indicated in the contents list. Access to restricted material may only be granted with the written permission of HRW. Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish, reproduce, exhibit, and create any derivative work, compilation or digitized version based on, or to use for any other purpose than research and photocopying for personal, scholarly and/or other non-commercial purposes, all or part of such materials must be obtained in writing from HRW. Requests should include a detailed description of the proposed publication.
Phone: 212-854-3630
Reference Email: chrdr@columbia.edu
Related Website: http://library.columbia.edu/locations/chrdr.html