Executive Director, Human Rights Watch
"The Dynamics of Human Rights and the Environment" - September 20, 2007
"The human rights movement and the environmental movement
are and should be political allies.
Kenneth Roth has held the post of executive director of Human Rights Watch since 1993. From 1987 to 1993, 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.
Roth has conducted human rights investigations around the world, 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. He has written more than 80 articles and chapters on a range of human rights topics in such publications as the New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, International Herald Tribune and New York Review of Books. He also regularly appears in the major media and speaks to audiences around the world.
A graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University, 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 13 years as executive director of Human Rights Watch, the organization has quadrupled in size while greatly expanding its geographic reach and adding special programs devoted to refugees, children's rights, international justice, AIDS, gay and lesbian rights, human rights emergencies, terrorism and counterterrorism, and the human rights responsibilities of multinational corporations.
Human Rights Watch, which started in 1978 as Helsinki Watch to monitor the compliance of Soviet bloc countries, is the largest human rights organization based in the United States. Human Rights Watch investigates, reports on and seeks to curb human rights abuses in some 70 countries. Its researchers conduct fact-finding investigations into human rights abuses in all regions of the world. Human Rights Watch then publishes those findings in dozens of books and reports every year, generating extensive coverage in local and international media. This publicity helps to embarrass abusive governments in the eyes of their citizens and the world. Human Rights Watch then meets with government officials to urge changes in policy and practice - at the United Nations, the European Union, in Washington and in capitals around the world. In extreme circumstances, Human Rights Watch presses for the withdrawal of military and economic support from governments that egregiously violate the rights of their people. In moments of crisis, Human Rights Watch provides up-to-the-minute information about conflicts while they are underway. Refugee accounts, which were collected, synthesized and cross-corroborated by our researchers, helped shape the response of the international community to recent wars and outbreaks of violence worldwide.