The face of Human Rights

Kenneth Roth is the executive director of Human Rights Watch, a post he has held since 1993. The largest U.S.-based international human rights organization, Human Rights Watch investigates, reports on, and seeks to curb human rights abuses in some 70 countries. From 1987 to 1993, Mr. Roth served as deputy director of the organization. Previously, he was a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Iran-Contra investigation in Washington. He also worked in private practice as a litigator.

Mr. Roth has conducted human rights investigations around the globe, devoting special attention to issues of justice and accountability for gross abuses of human rights, standards governing military conduct in time of war, the human rights policies of the United States and the United Nations, and the human rights responsibilities of multinational businesses. A graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University, Mr. Roth was drawn to the human rights cause in part by his father’s experience fleeing Nazi Germany in 1938. He began working on human rights after the declaration of martial law in Poland in 1981, and soon also became deeply engaged in fighting military repression in Haiti.

In his ten years as executive director of Human Rights Watch, the organization has greatly expanded its geographic reach, adding special projects devoted to refugees, children’s rights, academic freedom, international justice, AIDS, gay and lesbian rights, and the human rights responsibilities of multinational corporations. Under Roth’s leadership, Human Rights Watch has grown eight-fold in size and vastly expanded its reach : it now operates in more than 80 countries, among them some of the most dangerous and oppressed places on Earth.

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