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At a Glance
This Record Group is arranged into 6 series.
Materials include correspondence and e-mail communications, mission reports, testimonies and interviews, addresses and contact lists, confidential interoffice memos, legal and advocacy material, internal planning and policy material, declassified government and United Nations documents, published and unpublished human rights reports from individuals and fellow non-governmental organizations (NGOs), press clippings and news releases, and maps. Another category of documents consists of HRW reports and briefing papers, as well as press releases and open letters to heads of state, governments and various government agencies.
Materials related to missions contain unpublished information on sources, cases, and the state of affairs in various countries. They include professional and personal mission notes taken by AW country researchers during investigative missions, testimonies by and interviews with victims of various human rights abuses, pre-mission and post-mission memos, addresses and contact lists.
Thematically, these documents deal with the various political and social transitions in Asia. The papers comprise such human rights advocacy initiatives as the attempt to alleviate the plight of political prisoners and refugees; the promotion of freedom of expression; the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre; the suppression of political violence in Indonesia and Sri Lanka; and the effect of Aids and prostitution on women.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
The records of Human Rights Watch are restricted unless they have been vetted and cleared for use by HRW. Specific restriction status is noted in the finding aid for each folder (open, vetted; restricted until ___; unvetted). If you wish to request boxes from this collection that have not been vetted, please send an email to email@example.com detailing the collection, series, box, and folder numbers in which you are interested, as well as a brief description of your research needs. Once Human Rights Watch has reviewed the request, the researcher will be contacted with specific instructions. Please submit requests at least two months in advance of your research visit.
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes.
Permission to publish, reproduce, exhibit, and create any derivative work, compilation or digitized version based on, or to use for any other purpose than research and photocopying for personal, scholarly and/or other non-commercial purposes, all or part of such materials must be obtained in writing from HRW. Requests should include a detailed description of the proposed publication.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Human Rights Watch Records, Record Group, Box Number; Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
3 Records152.5 linear ft. 1st accession accumulation, 1985-97
Ownership and Custodial History
This material was originally deposited at the University of Colorado at Boulder by Human Rights Watch in the 1990s. The material was deposited with the Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 2006.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed Christopher M. Laico 2008.
Finding Aid written by Christopher M. Laico.
2012-11-26 xml document instance created by Christopher M. Laico
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
2019-12-10 Folder status updated based on December 2019 HRW review. kws
2020-01-03 Folder status updated based on January 2020 HRW review. kws
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
This Record Group contains the records of Human Rights Watch/Asia (AW). Established in 1985, Asia Watch monitors and promotes the observance of internationally recognized human rights norms in Asia. Since its founding, AW has kept refining a three-pronged strategy of documentation, campaigning, and lobbying to expose abuses in the region. By the late 1980s, this strategy came to fruition with regard to China. To illustrate, even before the Tiananmen Square Massacre, AW had been working with Chinese human rights groups to support efforts to record the plight of Chinese political prisoners. In early May 1989, in turn, an AW mission traveled to Beijing in order to speak with pro-democracy demonstrators. These labors were combined with first-hand reports and lobbying campaigns before Congress. Asia Watch China Specialist, Robin Munro, for example, wrote an eyewitness account of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. AW executive staff, in turn, became vocal advocates for sanctions against China on Capitol Hill. Finally, AW set up a branch headquarters in Hong Kong. This office enabled AW to tap into the extensive information-gathering network in Hong Kong. It also facilitated work on behalf of pro-democracy activists who escaped there after the massacre.
Through the 1990s, through their three-pronged model, AW had expanded the number of countries it covered, the issues it addressed and the advocacy techniques it employed in the region. AW, for example, began seeking allies within the NGO and business communities in Europe and Japan in order to bring more direct pressure on human rights offenders in Asia.