Re: What do you believe?

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

I don’t have a fully formed philosophy. I don’t come to this out of any particular religious tradition. Indeed if anything, I’ve seen the consequences of religion as ideology; as a justification for trumping the rights of the individual. I’ve . . . I’ve . . . I’ve seen a lot of that, although I’ve also seen times where people, out of religious sentiment, come to the human rights cause and stand with its values. But I think that at a personal level, I’m probably more motivated by almost a Contian perspective. I really do tend to identify with the other person as if it’s myself. And I do at a pretty profound level think that I shouldn’t treat other people in any way that I wouldn’t want to be treated myself. And that basic sense of sort of fairness, or . . . or recognition of the human decency, or the . . . just the human being in any person I think is a lot of what pushes me. You know when I . . . when I see victims, when I speak to people around the world, I do have this tendency to identify with them and to recognize that there but for the grace of God go I, and that I should, you know, uphold their humanity if I want mine own respected. And . . . and that . . . I think that more than anything else – which is not so much religious, it’s just kind of a world view – is what tends to motivate me.

Recorded on: 8/14/07


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