Human Rights Watch is an international NGO based in New York City, USA, that works with human rights issues.
The organization was started under the name Helsinki Watch in 1978 to monitor the Soviet Union's compliance with the Helsinki Accords. Other watch organizations were started to cover other parts of the world. They were united in 1988 and formed Human Rights Watch.
Whereas most other groups are focused on advocacy and public pressure , HRW's specialty is the production of reports, to establish the details needed for others to do advocacy work. Major issues raised by the organization in its reports include social and gender discrimination, government corruption, and abuses in criminal justice systems in many nations.
Human Rights Watch was one of six international NGOs that founded the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers in 1998. HRW later spun of several regional Watch groups, e.g., Americas Watch,..., and Index on Censorship, a UK-based group monitoring the freedom of the press around the globe.
Human Rights Watch is also a member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, a virtual network of non-governmental organisations that monitors free expression violations worldwide and campaigns to defend journalists, writers and human rights activists.
Like most human rights groups, Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty.