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section heading icon     advocates

This page highlights international human rights advocacy groups and observers. 

It covers -

Broader questions regarding the nature of advocacy are explored here.

section marker icon     HRW

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) is a nongovernment organisation that originated in 1978 as Helsinki Watch, monitoring Soviet bloc compliance with human rights provisions of the Helsinki Accords. During the 1980's extended its coverage of human rights abuses to the rest of the world. It has offices in Brussels, London, Moscow, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tashkent, Toronto and Washington. Spending in 2005 was around US$25 million.

section marker icon     AI

London-based Amnesty International (AI) undertakes

research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights.

It claims some 1.8 million members, supporters and subscribers in over 150 countries and territories.

AI objectives are -

  • Reform and strengthen the justice sector
  • Abolish the death penalty
  • Protect the rights of defenders
  • Resist human rights abuses in the ‘war on terror’
  • Uphold the rights of refugees and migrants
  • Promote economic, social and cultural rights for marginalized communities
  • Stop violence against women
  • Protect civilians and close the taps that fuel abuses in conflict

section marker icon     ASF

Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) is an Brussels-based nongovernment organisation with a budget in 2002 of around € 4 million. Funding is predominantly from the EU.

It is concerned with support for specific judicial processes related to major tragedies (eg in Rwanda) and the democratisation of justice (eg Burundi and Timor-Leste), along with involvement of voluntary lawyers

in sensitive or emblematic trials or when the rights of the defense are in danger in countries where the official speech on human rights does not reflect reality (for instance, ASF has led projects in Togo, Tunisia, Lebanon, Morocco, Bolivia, Colombia and Guinea).

Lawyers Without Borders (LWB) is an independent organisation based in the US.

section marker icon     Privacy International

London-based Privacy International (PI) is an international human rights group formed in 1990 as a watchdog on surveillance and privacy invasions by governments and corporations. PI campaigns and research cover issues ranging from wiretapping and national security, to ID cards, video surveillance, data matching, medical privacy, and freedom of information and expression.

section marker icon     Freedom House

US-based Freedom House was founded in 1941 by George Field (1904-2006), Wendell Willkie, Dorothy Thompson and Herbert Bayard Swope. After initial opposition to Nazism it criticised human rights abuses in the USSR and PRC, was an early proponent of US civil rights legislation and condemned the Ku Klux Klan and McCarthyism. It is currently best known for issuing annual assessments of freedom, rating every nation and citing some nations and regimes for praise or condemnation.

section marker icon     others

Other bodies include -

  • Article 19 - the global campaign for free expression
  • International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) -
    Paris-based umbrella organisation with priorities of protecting human rights, assisting victims , mobilising the community of States, supporting local NGO's capacity for action and raising awareness
  • Center for Economic & Social Rights (CESR)
  • Human Rights First (HRF), formerly Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights - a New York-based international organisation that promotes laws and policies that advance universal rights and freedoms.
  • Globalwitness - which emphasises relationships between human rights abuses, corruption and natural resource exploitation
  • Interights - the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights, a London-based body that aims to enforce human rights through law, strengthen human rights jurisprudence and mechanisms through use of international and comparative law, and empower legal partners to protect human rights

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version of March 2008
© Bruce Arnold | caslon analytics