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Home > Human Rights & Humanitarian Law > Who is behind Human Rights Watch? > Human Rights Watch in Service to the War Party

Human Rights Watch in Service to the War Party - Edward S. Herman and David Peterson and George Szamuely, February 2007
Human Rights Watch as a Political Instrument of the Liberal Cosmopollitan Elite of the United States of America - Oleg Popov, 16 November 2004 "...Jimmy Carter's "liberal" Administration in the person of his national security advisor Zbigniev Brzezinski considered propaganda of the ideas of "freedom of speech, human rights and democracy" in common context of geopolitical opposition and ideological struggle between the USA and the USSR. Accordingly, the "workers of ideological front" (Freedom House, Rand Corp., Council for Foreign Relations, US Institute for Peace, Voice of America, Radio Liberty and other governmental organizations and research centers) propagandized the ideas of human rights striving for creation of favorable "subjective" conditions of political and ideological changes in Eastern European countries in the direction needed by the US.

Western human rights activists-liberals (many of them had shared anti-capitalist and even socialist views) regarded the "introduction" of universal ideas of human rights in the USSR as a necessary element of the struggle for "liberation of the whole mankind" a kind of missionary activities. For the same reason they wanted to defend human rights in any country of the world, no matter what kind of political and block orientation it was possessed. In other words, American human rights activists didn't appear only as US citizens troubling about American interests but as defenders of human rights worldwide. This wing of realists-liberals is often called by American public a "liberal cosmopolitan" wing...

The financing of all the branches of HRW was generally provided by Jewish charity funds such as Aaron Diamond Foundation, Jacob M. Kaplan Fund, Revson Foundation and Scherman Foundation. As in 70s, the Ford Foundation continued financing HRW too. Among new "donors" there appeared well-known multimillion philanthropic funds such as MacArthur Foundation, John Merck Fund and J. Mertz-Gilmore Foundation. Financing had also been provided by the Fund for Free Expression, established by Robert L. Bernstein at the beginning of 70s. At the same time the list of its activists included the names of well-known writers, scientists, artists (Arthur Miller, Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike etc.) and managers of large charity funds (already mentioned Dorothy Cullman, Irene Diamond and Mark Kaplan).

And the step, which decided the fate of HRW and influenced not only the character of its activities and the choice of objects to criticize but the very mission of the organization was its "alliance" with stockjobber-billionaire George Soros. Soros joined HRW not only himself. His wife Susan, the shareholders of his Quantum Fund multimillionaires John Gutfreund and John Studzinski, Fiona, the wife of the manager of his fund billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller, even the employees of companies and funds managed by Soros, well-known politologists Barnett Rubin and William D. Zabel, and also Warren Zimmerman, a diplomat became members of the Advisory Committee of HRW and its branches..." more

Council on Foreign Relations

Human Rights & Humanitarian Law

Who is behind Human Rights Watch?

[Courtesy: http://web.inter.nl.net/users/Paul.Treanor/HRW.html]

Paul Treanor

"...For a century there has been a strong interventionist belief in the United States - although it competes with widespread isolationism. In recent years attitudes hardened: human-rights interventionism became a consensus among the 'foreign policy elite' even before September 11. Human Rights Watch itself is part of that elite, which includes government departments, foundations, NGO's and academics. It is certainly not an association of 'concerned private citizens'. HRW board members include present and past government employees, and overlapping directorates link it to the major foreign policy lobbies in the US... Human rights are not the only ideology of intervention. The 'civilising mission', which justified 19th century colonisation, is another example.The point is that human rights can serve a geopolitical purpose, which is unrelated to their moral content...."

Under President Clinton, Human Rights Watch was the most influential pro-intervention lobby: its 'anti-atrocity crusade' helped drive the wars in ex-Yugoslavia. Under Bush it lost influence to the neoconservatives, who have their own crusades, and it is unlikely to regain that influence in his second term. But the 'two interventionisms' are not so different anyway: Human Rights Watch is founded on belief in the superiority of American values. It has close links to the US foreign policy elite, and to other interventionist and expansionist lobbies.

No US citizen, and no US organisation, has any right to impose US values on Europe. No concentration camps or mass graves can justify that imposition. But Human Rights Watch finds it self-evident, that the United States may legitimately restructure any society, where a mass grave is found. That is a dangerous belief for a superpower: European colonialism shows how easily a 'civilising mission' produces its own atrocities. The Belgian 'civilising mission' in the Congo, at the time promoted as a noble and unselfish enterprise, killed half the population. Sooner or later, more people will die in crusades to prevent a new Holocaust, than died in the Holocaust itself. And American soldiers will continue to kill, torture and rape, in order to prevent killings, torture and rape.

For a century there has been a strong interventionist belief in the United States - although it competes with widespread isolationism. In recent years attitudes hardened: human-rights interventionism became a consensus among the 'foreign policy elite' even before September 11. Human Rights Watch itself is part of that elite, which includes government departments, foundations, NGO's and academics. It is certainly not an association of 'concerned private citizens'. HRW board members include present and past government employees, and overlapping directorates link it to the major foreign policy lobbies in the US. Cynically summarised, Human Rights Watch arose as a joint venture of George Soros and the State Department. Nevertheless, it represents some fundamental characteristics of US-American culture.

The September 11 attacks confirmed the interventionism of the entire foreign policy elite - not just the highly visible neoconservatives. More important, the public response illustrated the almost absolute identification of Americans with their own value system. Without any apparent embarrassment, President Bush declared that a war between good and evil was in progress. Ironically, that mirrors the language of the Islamic fundamentalists. It implies a Crusader mentality, rather than the usual pseudo-neutrality of liberal-democratic political philosophy. A society which believes in its own absolute goodness, and the absolute and universal nature of its own values, is a fertile ground for interventionism.

Human rights are part of the American value system, but they are also especially useful as an 'ideology of justification' in wartime. Such an ideology should ideally meet some criteria. First, it should not be a simple appeal to self-interest. Simply stating "We own the world!" or "We are the master race, submit to us!" is not good propaganda. As a slogan, 'war on terrorism' is also inadequate, since it is too clearly an American war, against the enemies of America. For propaganda purposes, an appeal to higher values is preferable.

Second, these higher values should be universal. This is why Islamism would probably fail as an interventionist ideology: it is specific to Islam. A geopolitical claim to intervene in support of Islamic values can be answered simply by saying: "We are not Muslims here". The doctrine of universal human rights is, by definition, universal and cross-cultural.

Third, the ideology should appeal to the population of the super-power. In the United States, for historical reasons, 'rights doctrines' have become part of its political culture. It would be pointless for a US President to justify a war by appealing to Islam, or royal legitimacy, because very few Americans hold these beliefs. Most Americans do believe in rights theories - and very few know that these theories are disputed.

Fourth, if possible, the ideology should appeal to the 'enemy' population. It should ideally be part of their values. That is difficult, but the doctrine of human rights has succeeded in acquiring cross-cultural legitimacy. This does not mean it is inherently right - but simply that no non-western cultures have an answer to the doctrine. The government of China, for instance, fully accepts the concept of human rights, and claims to uphold them. So when it is accused of human rights violations, it can do nothing but deny, on this issue it is perpetually on the defensive. Acceptance of your values by the enemy population could be seen as the Holy Grail of war propaganda: if the enemy leadership is incapable of presenting an alternative value system, it will ultimately collapse.

Human rights are not the only ideology of intervention. The 'civilising mission', which justified 19th century colonisation, is another example.The point is that human rights can serve a geopolitical purpose, which is unrelated to their moral content. It is not possible to show that 'human rights' exist, and most moral philosophers would not even try. It might not be a very important issue in ethics anyway - but it is important in politics and geopolitics. And geopolitics is what Human Rights Watch is about - not about ethics. HRW itself is an almost exclusively US-American organisation. Its version of human rights is the Anglo-American tradition. It is 'mono-ethical' - recognising no legitimate ethical values outside its own. However, the human-rights tradition is not, and can never be, a substitute for a general morality. Major ethical issues such as equality, distributive justice, and innovation, simply don't fit into rights-based ethics.

Ethical values are not, in themselves, culturally specific. However, this ethical tradition has become associated with the United States. It is dominant in the political culture, it has become associated with the flag and other national symbols, and it is capable of generating intense national emotion. It emphasises the universal rights set out in the American Declaration of Independence and its Constitution. In a sense the US was 'pre-programmed' as an interventionist power. Universal human rights, by their nature, tend to justify military intervention to enforce those rights. Expansionists, rather than isolationists, are closest to the spirit of the American Constitution, with its inherently interventionist values. In fact, most US-Americans believe in the universality and superiority of their ethical tradition. Interventionist human-rights organisations are, like the neoconservative warmongers, a logical result. Human Rights Watch is not formally an 'association for the promotion of the American Way of Life' - but it tends to behave like one.

Human Rights Watch operates a number of discriminatory exclusions, to maintain its American character, and that in turn reduces internal criticism of its limited perspective. Although it publishes material in foreign languages to promote its views, the organisation itself is English-only. More seriously, HRW discriminates on grounds of nationality. Non-Americans are systematically excluded at board level - unless they have emigrated to the United States. HRW also recruits its employees in the United States, in English. The backgrounds of the Committee members (below) indicate that HRW recruits it decision-makers from the upper class, and upper-middle class. Look at their professions: there are none from middle-income occupations, let alone any poor illegal immigrants, or Somali peasants.

Human Rights Watch can therefore claim no ethical superiority. It is itself involved in practices it condemns elsewhere, such as discrimination in employment, and exclusion from social structures. It can also claim no neutrality. An organisation which will not allow a Serb or Somali to be a board member, can give no neutral assessment of a Serbian or Somali state. It would probably be impossible for this all-American, English-only, elite organisation, to be anything else but paternalistic and arrogant. To the people who run HRW, the non-western world consists of a list of atrocities, and via the media they communicate that attitude to the American public. It can only dehumanise African, Asians, Arabs and eastern Europeans. Combined with a tendency to see the rest of the world as an enemy, that will contribute to new abuses and continuing civilian deaths, during America's crusades.

Who runs the HRW Europe Committee?

Human Rights Watch is organised approximately by continent. The Europe section was established in 1978, originally named 'Helsinki Steering Committee' or 'Helsinki Watch'. It is the core of the later Human Rights Watch organisation. In the late 1970's, human rights had become the main issue in Cold War propaganda, after Soviet concessions at the Helsinki summit (1975), allowing human rights monitoring. Western governments encouraged 'private' organisations to use this concession - not out of moral concern, but as a means of pressuring the Soviet Union. HRW was one of these 'private' organisations: in other words, it began as a Cold War propaganda instrument.

The committee is now called the Europe and Central Asia Advisory Committee. It is still affiliated with the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, which co-ordinates the "Helsinki committees". The membership now includes fewer ex-diplomats than in the 1990's, more academics, and a few HRW donors. This web page and other similar publicity, has probably influenced the change in style. (By appointing his tax lawyer to the HRW Board, Soros exposed himself to ridicule and charges of cronyism). The list below is the March 2004 version.

Peter Osnos, chair

George Soros' publisher. He is Chief Executive of Public Affairs publishers.
Alice Henkin, Vice Chair
Human Rights lawyer, Director of the Justice and Society Program at the Aspen Institute. Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the most influential elite foreign-policy lobby. The President and CEO of the Aspen Institute is Walter Issacson, who is also Chairman and CEO of CNN News.
Henri Barkey
Professor of International Relations at Lehigh University, advised the State Department on Turkish and Kurdish issues. Married to Ellen Laipson, former Special Assistant to Madeleine Albright, when Albright was UN Ambassador. Considered anti-Turkish by some Turkish media. See: Columnist on US Plans for Cyprus, 1999.
Jonathan Fanton, ex-member
Chair of the HRW International Committee until 2003, and still a member. President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, itself a HRW donor. Former Vice President of the University of Chicago, in 1982 appointed as President of the New School for Social Research, now the New School University. He is active in building US academic contacts with eastern Europe, directed at the new pro-western elites, see the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies (TCDS) page.
Morton Abramowitz, ex-member
A link to the foreign policy establishment, one of several at HRW. Abramowitz was U.S. Ambassador to Turkey (1989-91) and Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (1985-89), among other posts: see his personal details at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he is a Fellow. The CFR is the heart of interventionist US policy since 1921 (and hated by the isolationist right). He directed the CFR Balkan Economic Task Force, which published a report on "Reconstructing the Balkans".
Stephen Del Rosso
Ex-diplomat, also member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Works for the Carnegie Corporation as 'Senior Program Officer' International Peace and Security, and before that for the Pew Trust. See his biography at the Carnegie website - a typical international affairs career.
Barbara Finberg
A donor of HRW, see the list below. A retired vice president with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, who donated $1 million to Stanford University.
Felice Gaer
Human rights specialist at the American Jewish Committee, and Chairperson of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which is primarily active against Islamic countries and China. According to this JTA report, Gaer praised Madeleine Albright for her "outstanding human rights record", apparently meaning that she would not allow any criticism of Israel's housing policy in Jerusalem. Gaer was also chair of the Steering Committee for the 50th anniversary of the UN Human Rights Declaration, see this biography:
"Ms.Gaer is Director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights. Author, speaker, and activist, she is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Board of Directors of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, a member of the International Human Rights Council at the Carter Center, ...Vice President of the International League for Human Rights."

In 1999, Felice Gaer was a non-governmental member of the United States delegation to a United Nations Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva, where (according to the Voice of America) she denounced Sudan, saying the the U.S. "cannot accept those who invoke Islam or other religions as justification for atrocious human rights abuses." More interesting ( with hindsight) is this speech at the Geneva meeting, where she suggested the UN should no longer investigate prison rapes in the US: "we would urge the Special Rapporteurs to focus their attention on countries where the situation is the most dire and the abuses the most severe."

The disclosures about abuse of prisoners in Iraq illustrate the ethical problem here. One thing you can't say, is that 'America doesn't treat its own prisoners like that'. Americans do treat their fellow citizens like that - in American jails, which have a consistently bad record on prisoner abuse. But Felice Gaer suggested that it somehow isn't as bad, if the US authorities do such things. The United States, she said, was committed to human rights and... "When violations occur, we have the mechanisms and protections in place to prosecute."

In reality, US authorities responded as at Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo Bay: they obstructed outside investigators. The Report of the mission to the United States of America on the issue of violence against women in state and federal prisons says:

"...on the eve of her visit to Michigan, the Special Rapporteur received a letter dated 12 June 1998 from the Governor of Michigan informing her that she would not be allowed to ... visit any of the women's prisons... The Special Rapporteur found this refusal particularly disturbing since she had received very serious allegations of sexual misconduct occurring at Florence Crane Women's Facility and Camp Branch Facility for Women in Coldwater, Michigan, as well as at Scott Correctional Facility for Women in Plymouth, Michigan."

Virginia and California also obstructed the Special Rapporteur. Felice Gaer knew that, because the report had already been published. She was lying when she told the UN that "we welcome outside investigations". Instead of condemning the obstruction, she diverted attention to abuses in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and China. The United States, she explained, is an open, democratic society.

That sounds like Donald Rumsfeld speaking about Abu Ghraib. It is dangerous attitude: it implies that America can ultimately do no wrong, since its open society is a perfect defence against abuse of power. Human Rights Watch does promote that attitude - that 'human rights abuse' is essentially something done by foreigners, and that American institutions are somehow immunised against it. Now, the US soldiers who abused and killed prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan don't see themselves as comparable to the previous regimes: they see themselves as the good guys, defenders of a system which is infinitely better. Certainly under wartime conditions, that attitude inevitably leads to abuses.

So Human Rights Watch itself must accept some of the blame, for what happened to the prisoners. HRW divides humanity in two: on the one side are the supporters of American values. On the other, worthless criminal barbarian rapists and torturers. In this logic 'human rights' does not imply that Iraqi prisoners should be treated with respect, but rather the opposite. From "our torture is different" it's a small step to "our torture is acceptable because it is anti-torturer" and then another small step to "human rights means torturing torturers". Or their friends, or their family, or the subversives who want to appease them...

Michael Erwin Gellert
Vice Chairman of the Board at Fanton's New School for Social Research. Partner in the private investment company Windcrest Partners, and Chairman of the Board of the Carnegie Institute. Gellert is or was a director of Premier Parks Inc., owner of the Six Flags and Walibi theme park chains.
Paul Goble
Director of Communications and political commentator at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Cold War propaganda transmitters that survived the end of the Cold War. From their website: "Free Europe, Inc., was established in 1949 as non-profit, private corporations to broadcast news and current affairs programs to Eastern European countries behind the Iron Curtain. The Radio Liberty Committee, Inc., was created two years later along the same lines to broadcast to the nations inside the Soviet Union. Both were funded principally by the U.S. Congress, through the Central Intelligence Agency, but they also received some private donations as well. The two corporations were merged into a single RFE/RL, Inc. in 1975."

It is still funded by the US Government, through Congressional appropriation.

Bill Green, ex-member
Former Republican member of Congress, a trustee of the New School for Social Research (where Fanton is President), with many other public and business posts: see the biography at the American Assembly, an academic/political think-tank.
Stanley Hoffman
A pro-interventionist theorist (of course that means US intervention, not a Taliban invasion of the US). Professor at Harvard, see his biography. Note that his colleagues include Daniel Goldhagen, who openly advocated occupation of Serbia, to impose a US-style democracy: see A New Serbia.
Jeri Laber
Longtime HRW staff member, since the Helsinki Watch period. Now an advisor, without executive tasks,
Kati Marton, ex-member
President of the Committee to Protect Journalists. However this 'protection' did not extend to journalists killed by NATO bombing of the Belgrade TV studios: she declined to condemn it. This may, perhaps, have something to do with not embarrassing her husband: Richard C. Holbrooke, former Special Envoy to Yugoslavia, and US Ambassador to the United Nations. For an idea of the social world behind Human Rights Watch, and a glimpse of of how US foreign policy is made, see this article about their cocktail parties...

Dick Holbrooke, who's been U.N. ambassador since August, has a different idea of what sort of people the suite should be filled with. Tonight, he's hosting a dinner for General Wesley Clark, the granite-faced, soft-spoken nato chief, who is leaving his post in April. .... Dressed in a formal pin-striped suit, crisp white shirt, and red tie, Holbrooke still manages to look comfortably rumpled -- his unruly hair is the secret to this effect -- as he banters his way around the room. Introducing Clark to billionaire financier George Soros and Canadian press lord Conrad Black, Holbrooke teasingly calls the general, whose formal title is supreme Allied commander for Europe, "The Supreme,"...
Holbrooke's wife, the author Kati Marton, is equally adept at the art of the cocktail party. Dressed in an elegant white pantsuit, she ushers guests into the dining room, where four tables are set for a meal of crab cakes and sautéed duck. Marton and Holbrooke, who have been giving twice-a-week diplomatic dinners, have a carefully choreographed act. "I give the opening toast, which is unorthodox in the U.N. village," she explains. "Richard and I are making the point we're doing this together."
Ambassador A-List, from the January 3, 2000 issue of New York Magazine.

As 'journalist protector', Kati Marton lobbied for the Soros-funded B92 radio in Belgrade, which played a central role in the opposition under Milosevic, at least until his last year in power. The campaign for B92 is illustrative of the symbiotic relationship of interventionist lobbies and interventionist governments. Marton was lobbying to protect an 'independent' radio station which was already part-funded by the US government (National Endowment for Democracy). Partly as a result, it got even more western funding.

Immediately after the station was banned, Ivor Roberts, the British ambassador, showed his support by visiting its offices on the fifth floor of a run-down socialist-style building in downtown Belgrade. Carl Bildt, then the international High Representative in charge of the civilian side of the Dayton peace agreement in Bosnia, the US State Department, and Kati Marton of the Committee to Protect Journalists also made protests on behalf of the station.

Internet technology and international pressure proved to be effective weapons against Milosevic. After two days he withdrew his edict forbidding B-92 to broadcast. It seems likely that he was convinced that lifting the ban would win Western praise and deflect international attention from his electoral fraud. Immediately afterward, B-92 was able - through funds provided equally by the BBC, the British Foreign Office, USAID, the European Union, and George Soros's Open Society Foundation-to gain access to a satellite that linked twenty-eight independent local radio stations, covering 70 percent of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which is now made up of Serbia and Montenegro.
1997 article from the New York Review of Books

Prema Mathai-Davis, ex-member
A token non-westerner, an Indian immigrant. She was, however, also CEO of the YWCA (Young Womens Christian Association), which is as American as can be.
Jack Matlock, ex-member
US Ambassador to the Soviet Union during its collapse, 1987-1991. Author of Autopsy On An Empire: The American Ambassador's Account of the Collapse of the Soviet Union (Random House, 1995).

Member of the large Board of Directors of the Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council is more than a pro-NATO fan club: it supports an expansionist US foreign policy in general. Note their recent paper (in pdf format) Beyond Kosovo, a redesign of the Balkans within the framework of the proposed Stability Pact.

The Atlantic Council is a delight for corporate-conspiracy theorists. Yes, it is all paid for by the Rockefeller foundation, the Soros foundation, the Nuclear Energy Institute, Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop, Exxon, British Nuclear Fuels, the US Army and the European Union. And, no surprise to conspiracy fans, Matlock attended the 1996 Bilderberg Conference.

Walter Link
Chairman of the Global Academy Institute for Globalization, Human Rights, and Leadership - obviously not a man to limit the scope of his activities. Promoter of the Blue Planet Run, a global foot-race starting in San Francisco, which will improve the global water supply. That's what it says at the website anyway. The Academy is associated with the futurist John Naisbitt.
Michael McFaul
Hoover Institution Fellow at Stanford University. See his biography. A lobbyist for the 'democratisation' of Russia, and relatively hostile to the Putin government. Note, that there is no lobby in Russia, that seeks to decide the form of government of the United States.
Sarah E. Mendelson
Senior Fellow at the Center For Strategic and International Studies. Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Chechnya specialist. See her CV.
Karl Meyer
Editor of World Policy Journal, published by the World Policy Institute. The WPI supports an expansionist and interventionist American foreign policy: it is part of Jonathan Fanton's New School University.
Joel Motley
Also on the main HRW Board. Managing Director, Carmona Motley, Inc. Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, where he was a member of their Task Force on Non-Lethal Technologies. This is what Mr. Motley wants to do the poor, to improve their human rights:

- jamming or destruction of communications, together with the ability to transmit television and radio programs of ones choice, potentially useful for reducing inflammatory, sometimes genocidal, messages or separating murderous rulers from army and populace;
- slickums and stickums to impede vehicle or foot traffic;
- highly obnoxious sounds and smells, capable of inducing immediate flight or temporary digestive distress.

That would have helped in Somalia, concludes the CFR Task Force. Needless to say there was no Somali on the Task Force either. Motley is also on the Advisory Board of LEAP, an educational charity, where they develop courses in, among other things, conflict resolution. Their website doesn't say whether the children are trained to use digestive distress agents.

Herbert Okun
Career diplomat, former Special Advisor on Yugoslavia to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Deputy Co-Chairman of the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia. Member of the Board of the Lawyers Alliance for World Security (LAWS) and its affiliate the Committee for National Security (CNS) which gives this biography:

Ambassador Herbert Okun is the U.S. member and Vice-President of the International Narcotics Control Board, and Visiting Lecturer on International Law at Yale Law School. Previously, he was the Deputy Chairman on the U.S. delegation at the SALT II negotiations and led the U.S. delegation in the trilateral U.S.-U.K.-USSR Talks on the CTBT. From 1991 to 1993 Ambassador Okun was Special Advisor on Yugoslavia to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Personal Envoy of the U.N. Secretary General, and Deputy Co-Chairman of the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia. He also served as Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN from 1985 to 1989 serving on the General Assembly, the Disarmament Committee and the Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Amb. Okun was also U.S. Ambassador to the former German Democratic Republic.

He was from 1990-97 Executive Director of the Financial Services Volunteer Corps, "a non-profit organization providing voluntary assistance to help establish free-market financial systems in former communist countries", see his biography at International Security Studies at Yale University, where he is also a board member. This Corps is a de facto agency of USAID, see how it is listed country-by-country in their report. Although it is not relevant to Human Rights Watch, this curriculum vitae gives a good impression of the kind of international elite created by such programs.

Okun is also a member emeritus of the board of the European Institute in Washington, an Atlanticist lobby. It organises the European-American Policy Forum, the European-American Congressional Forum, and the Transatlantic Joint Security Policies Project. Okun is a special advisor to the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict funded by the Carnegie Corporation. (It links pro-western international elite figures advocating a formal structure for control of states by the "international community").

Okun was a member of a Task Force (including Bianca Jagger and George Soros) on war criminals: see their report . Although it also demands "UN Sanctions Against States Harboring Indicted War Criminals" it is unlikely that the Task Force members meant the man quoted at the start of their report, President Clinton.

A curiosity: this human rights supporter is accused of an attempt to destroy the right to free speech, in his post at the International Narcotics Control Board: see A Duty to Censor: U.N. Officials Want to Crack Down on Drug War Protesters in the libertarian Reason Magazine.

Jane Olson
Represents HRW Southern California on the main HRW Board, see her biography. One of the few who are simply human rights activists, although her views are clearly 100% acceptable to the US Government. She was appointed a member of the U.S. delegation to the 1991 Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in Moscow. The biography notes that she "...participated in many investigation delegations to the former USSR, Yugoslavia, the Caucasus, Cuba, Vietnam and Cambodia". There is even a photo gallery: Jane with helmet in front of an armoured car in Bosnia, Jane at Tianmen Square, Jane in Red Square, Jane celebrates Ukrainian independence, Jane in Cambodia with Queen Noor of Jordan.

Again note, that US citizens consider it normal to travel to Europe, to decide on Europe's 'Security and Cooperation'. However, there is absolutely no equivalent "Conference on North American Security and Cooperation", where Europeans arrive, to tell Americans what to do. And no Bosnians are allowed to drive armoured vehicles around the United States.

Hannah Pakula
Author, member of the Freedom to Write Committee at PEN, the international writers organisation. Widow of film director Alan Pakula. Co-organiser of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.
Kathleen Peratis
Also Chair of the HRW Women's Rights Advisory Committee. Lawyer in New York, see the biography. She is a member of the Advisory Committee of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom - Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, which campaigns for a dual-state solution in Israel. Also a Board Member at B'nai Jeshurun, "a Zionist congregation"

"Collectively and individually, BJ members love and support the State of Israel. The continuing violence in Israel deepens our commitment as it saddens our hearts. We pray together for peace. At the same time, we assume our obligation as sacred communities to take action that will both encourage ongoing dialogue about the situation and explore the myriad ways that we - collectively and individually - can support Israel fulfill the vision put forth in its Declaration of Independence."

Peratis ... is listed in the 1995 donor's list.

Barnett Rubin
Academic and Soros-institutes advisor. Director of the "Center for Preventive Action" at the Council on Foreign Relations.The center is funded by the US Government through USIP, and by the Carnegie Corporation as part of their program Preventing Deadly Conflict. "Preventive Action" means intervention.

He is a member of the centers South Balkans Working Group, and edited a 1996 Council on Foreign Relations study Towards Comprehensive Peace in Southeast Europe: Conflict Prevention in the South Balkans. Rubin is an Afghanistan specialist, also on the Board of the Asia division of HRW. He authored and edited several works on Afghanistan. Rubin apparently had a curious attitude to the Taliban, he saw them as a bulwark against Islamic radicalism. No doubt he changed his attitude after 11 September 2001. See this letter to NPR, entitled Afghanistan Whitewash:

While the Lyden-Rubin conversation made no mention of US support for the Taliban, they referred several times to US "pressure" on the Taliban to now respect human rights. This is a total white wash which distorts the historical record beyond recognition.

Rubin is on the Advisory Board of the Soros Foundation Central Eurasia Project. He is an advisor of the Forced Migration Project of Soros' Open Society Institute, and he is also on the Board of the Soros Humanitarian Fund for Tajikistan. Perhaps most interesting is that the U.S. Institute of Peace (a de facto government agency) gave him a grant to research "formation of a new state system in Central Eurasia".
Barnett Rubin articles on Central Asia

This may be repetitive, but note once again that there are absolutely no Foundations or Institutes in Central Asia, which pay people to design "new state systems" in North America. For people like Rubin "human rights" mean simply that the US designs the world. See this article at the Soros Central Asia site, The Political Economy of War and Peace in Afghanistan, advocating a de facto colonial government in Afghanistan financed by oil revenues. He wasn't talking about the present Karzai government, which meets the description, but about the Taliban regime. Although they might prefer to forget this now, western foreign policy circles did consider recognising the Taliban, in a sort of oil-for-sharia swop.

Rubin is also a member of the US State Department Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad. The Final Report of this Committee also sums up what the United States can do, when it finds religious freedom has been infringed. The list begins at "friendly, persuasive: open an embassy" and ends with "act of war".

Rubin was also involved in the 1997 New York meeting, where the United States attempted to create a unified Yugoslav opposition, with among others Vuk Draskovic. The effort failed at the time: the opposition never united until Milosevic fell.

Colette Shulman
Womens' rights specialist. Works for the US 'National Council for Research on Women', where she is editor of 'Women's Dialogue', a Russian-language magazine for Russian women. Does the Russian Federation have a national research council which publishes English-language magazines for American women? I doubt it: it is the American obsession to redesign the rest of the world, in detail.
Leon Sigal, also known as Lee Sigal
Director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council, specialist on North Korea, author of 'Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea'. It is not clear why he is on the Europe Advisory Committee, instead of the Asia committee. See his biography:

...member of the editorial board of The New York Times from 1989 until 1995. In 1979 he served as International Affairs Fellow in the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs at the Department of State and in 1980 as Special Assistant to the Director. He was a Rockefeller Younger Scholar in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution from 1972-1974 and a guest scholar there in 1981-1984. From 1974 to 1989 he taught international politics at Wesleyan University as a professor of government. He was an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs from 1985 to 1989 and from 1996 to 2000, and visiting lecturer at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School in 1988 and 2000.

Sigal is a member of the Board of Advisors at Globalbeat Syndicate, part of the New York University Dept of Journalism.

Malcolm Smith
Senior Consultant, former President, at General American Investors Company, Inc.
George Soros
In some ways the 'Osama bin Laden' of the human rights movement - a rich man using his wealth, to spread his values across the world. See this overview of his role in Eastern Europe: George Soros: New Statesman Profile (Neil Clark, June 2003). The Public Affairs site gives this short biography of George Soros, chief financier of HRW and of numerous organisations in eastern Europe with pro-American, pro-market policies.

George Soros was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1930. In 1947 he emigrated to England, where he graduated from the London School of Economics. While a student in London, Mr. Soros became familiar with the work of the philosopher Karl Popper, who had a profound influence on his thinking and later on his philanthropic activities. In 1956 he moved to the United States, where he began to accumulate a large fortune through an international investment fund he founded and managed.

Mr. Soros currently serves as chairman of Soros Fund Management L.L.C., a private investment management firm that serves as principal investment advisor to the Quantum Group of Funds. The Quantum Fund N.V., the oldest and largest fund within the Quantum Group, is generally recognized as having the best performance record of any investment fund in the world in its twenty-nine-year history.

Mr. Soros established his first foundation, the Open Society Fund, in New York in 1979 and his first Eastern European foundation in Hungary in 1984. He now funds a network of foundations that operate in thirty-one countries throughout Central and Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union, as well as southern Africa, Haiti, Guatemala, Mongolia and the United States. These foundations are dedicated to building and maintaining the infrastructure and institutions of an open society. Mr. Soros has also founded other major institutions, such as the Central European University and the International Science Foundation. In 1994, the foundations in the network spent a total of approximately $300 million; in 1995, $350 million; in 1996, $362 million; and in 1997, $428 million. Giving for 1998 is expected to be maintained at that level.

Soros Foundations Network

Open Society Institute Staff Directory

Privatization Project

Open Society Institute Budapest

Marco Stoffel
Founder and director of the Third Millennium Foundation. Although it sounds harmless, the Foundation promotes a pseudo-ethical theory aimed at children, in which morality is reduced to 'empathy'. It also funds some human rights research.
Ruti Teitel
Professor of Constitutional Law at the New York Law School, see his biography. In the last few years he has specialised in the Constitutions of eastern European countries, and advised on the new Ukrainian constitution.
Mark von Hagen
Director of the Harriman Institute - an International Relations institute of Columbia University in New York. A Soviet and post-Soviet specialist, with a long list of publications, see his profile at the institute website.
Patricia M. Wald
US Judge, appointed to the Yugoslavia Tribunal (ICTY) in The Hague, until 2001. See this interview. Incidentally, the Soros Foundation also paid for the equipment of the Tribunal - so much for its judicial impartiality.
Mark Walton
This is apparently a British specialist in human rights and mental health, but I can not link him definitively to HRW.
William D. Zabel
George Soros legal advisor, on foundation and charity law. A estate and family financial lawyer for the rich at Schulte, Roth, and Zabel. His biography lists his involvement with these Soros Foundations: "Newly Independent States and the Baltic Republics, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Central European University and Open Society Fund". See this biographical article originally from the National Law Journal:
When fate knocks, rich ring for Zabel

He is a trustee of Fanton's New School of Social Research, and member of the Advisory Board of the World Policy Institute at the New School.

Zabel is a director of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights is one of the partners in the "Apparel Industry Partnership", a group set up by the Clinton administration and the US clothing and footwear industries to defuse criticism of conditions in their factories. The (not particularly radical) US trade union federation refuses to co-operate with it.

Zabel is also on the Board of Doctors of the World, the USA branch of Médecins du Monde, founded by Bernard Kouchner in 1980. Kouchner was later appointed the UN Representative ( the "governor") in Kosovo - and he has been suggested as a possible 'UN Governor' in Iraq. Despite the name, Médecins du Monde is a purely western organisation, see the affiliate list.

Warren Zimmermann
US Ambassador to Yugoslavia during its break-up, author of Origins of Catastrophe: Yugoslavia and Its Destroyers. A Cold-War career diplomat, long active in US human rights campaigns against eastern Europe. See this site for an extreme pro-Bosniac assessment of his book by Branka Magas, alleging he appeased Milosevic: "In the event, by pursuing Yugoslavia's unity rather than supporting Slovenia and Croatia in their demands for either the country's confederal transformation or its peaceful dissolution, the United States helped ensure its violent break-up". (I think it is logically consistent with US values and interests, that the US supported one policy around 1990 and another in Kosovo. The real problem is that so many people in Europe expect the US to design their states and write their Constitutions. It is because of this attitude, that people like Zimmermann, and organisations like HRW, can flourish) Zimmermann is now a professor of Diplomacy at Columbia University. If you think the 'amoral diplomat' is a stereotype, look at how his 1997 Contemporary Diplomacy course taught future diplomats:

Imagine that you are a member of Secretary Albright's Policy Planning Staff. She has asked you to write a strategy paper for one of the following diplomatic challenges:
- Dealing with NATO expansion and with the countries affected;
- Crafting a more energetic and assertive US approach to the Israeli-PLO deadlock;
-Raising the American profile in sub-Saharan Africa;
- Developing a US initiative to improve relations with Cuba;
- Forging an American approach to Central Asia and its energy wealth;
- Making better use of the UN and other multilateral organizations like OSCE;
- Weighing the relative priorities between pursuing human rights and keeping open lucrative economic opportunities;
- Increasing interest in, and support for, US foreign policy among the American people.

With Barnett Rubin, Zimmermann is a member of the Advisory Board of the Forced Migration Project at Soros Open Society Institute.

With Felice Gaer, Zimmermann is also on the Board of the quasi-commercial International Dispute Resolution Associates. (Peacemaking has become big business, but IDR is also funded by the US Government through the USIP).

He is a Trustee of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs

HRW Council

The Human Rights Watch 'Council' is primarily a fund-raising group. However, its members no doubt expect some influence on HRW policy, for their $5 000 minimum donation. The Council describes itself as "...an international membership organization that seeks to increase awareness of human rights issues and support for Human Rights Watch."

At first Council membership was secret, but the list is now online: it partly overlaps with Board and Advisory Committee members. The interesting thing about the Council is that it shows how much HRW is not international. It is Anglo-American, to the point of caricature. The Council is sub-divided onto four 'regional committees'. You might expect a division by continents (the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia-Pacific). But instead the 'regions' of the HRW global community are New York, Northern California, Southern California, and London. There is also a three-person 'Europe Committee At-Large' but it does not appear to organise any activities.

Although Human Rights Watch claims to act in the name of universal values, it is an organisation with a narrow social and geographical base. If HRW Council members were truly concerned about the welfare of Africans, Tibetans or eastern Europeans, then they would at least offer them an equal chance to influence the organisation. Instead, geographical location and the high cost restrict Council Membership to the US and British upper-middle-class.

HRW Donors

Taken from an older version of the HRW website, this 1995 list is apparently the only information available. In the United States, HRW is not legally obliged to disclose who donates money. About half its funds come from foundations, and half from individual donors, in total about $20 million.

In its Annual Reports, HRW always claims that it "accepts no government funds, directly or indirectly." However, that was a lie according to the 1995 list, and it is still a lie. The Dutch Novib - now part of the Oxfam group - is a government-funded aid organisation, and in turn it funded the activities of Human Rights Watch Africa in the Great Lakes region and Angola. Oxfam itself is primarily funded by the British government and the European Union, see their annual report. It is also funded by the United States Agency for International Development, USAID. Oxfam in turn partly funds Novib, so some of that money finds it way to HRW. Both Oxfam and Novib funded the HRW report on the Rwanda genocide. So, if it is as accurate as HRW's claim not to accept any indirect government funding, look elsewhere for the truth.


Dorothy and Lewis Cullman
The Aaron Diamond Foundation
Irene Diamond
The Ford Foundation
The Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett Fund
Estate of Anne Johnson
The J. M. Kaplan Fund
The Fanny and Leo Koerner Charitable Trust
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
The John Merck Fund
The Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation
Novib, The Dutch Organization for Development Corporation,
The Overbrook Foundation
Donald Pels
The Ruben and Elisabeth Rausing Trust
The Rockefeller Foundation
Marion and Herbert Sandler, The Sandler Family Supporting Foundation
Susan and George Soros
Shelby White and Leon Levy

DONORS OF $25,000 - $99,999

The Arca Foundation
Helen and Robert Bernstein
Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Bronfman, Jr.
Nikki and David Brown
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Compton Foundation, Inc.
Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Davis
The Dr. Seuss Foundation
Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller
Jack Edelman
Epstein Philanthropies
Federation Internationale des Ligues des Droits de L'Homme
Barbara Finberg
General Service Foundation
Abby Gilmore and Arthur Freierman
Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund
Katherine Graham, The Washington Post Company
Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation
Hudson News
Independence Foundation
The Isenberg Family Charitable Trust
The Henry M. Jackson Foundation
Robert and Ardis James
Jesuit Refugee Service
Nancy and Jerome Kohlberg
Lyn and Norman Lear
Joshua Mailman
Medico International
Moriah Fund, Inc.
Ruth Mott Fund
Kathleen Peratis and Richard Frank
Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation
Ploughshares Fund
Public Welfare Foundation, Inc.
Anita and Gordon Roddick
Edna and Richard Salomon
Lorraine and Sid Sheinberg
Margaret R. Spanel
Time Warner Inc.
U.S. Jesuit Conference
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Edie and Lew Wasserman
Maureen White and Steven Rattner
Malcolm Wiener and Carolyn Seely Wiener
The Winston Foundation for World Peace

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