Re: What are today's greatest human rights crises?

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch since 1993, has investigated human rights abuses around the globe, with special expertise on issues of justice and accountability for atrocities committed in the quest for peace; military conduct in war under the requirements of international humanitarian law; counterterrorism policy including resort to torture and arbitrary detention; the human rights policies of the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations; and the human rights responsibilities of multinational businesses. Mr. Roth has published more than 100 articles and chapters on a range of human rights topics. Before joining HRW as deputy director in 1987, Mr. Roth was a federal prosecutor for both the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and the Iran-Contra investigation in Washington. He is a graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University.

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

There are many big human rights challenges today. On the one hand there are the mass atrocities – places like Darfur or Eastern Congo where . . . where many, many people are killed and displaced. There are highly repressive governments – say North Korea, or Burma, or Uzbekistan, or Turkmenistan – where just the severity of the government repression deserves attention. There are places where wars have become so chaotic that . . . that the lack of government is a problem. I think Iraq is an example of that. So in that sense there are many situations where . . . where violence and repression call out for urgent attention. But there are other, you know, quieter forms of abuse that we tend not to . . . you tend not to see in the headlines, but that nonetheless affect many, many people quite severely. And here I think about, say, the severe restrictions on the rights of women that exist in many parts of the world. I think about migrant workers who are forced to travel long distances, and in a foreign environment often are . . . exist completely without respect for rights, wholly at the whim of their employer. I think about, you know, children who may be drafted to be soldiers – you know physically seized and coerced to become soldiers. Or who have to serve as . . . as domestics in lieu of going to school. So there are many of these quieter issues that don’t get into the headlines, but that are also acute problems as well.

Recorded on: 8/14/07


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