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Human Rights Watch is an international nongovernmental organization (INGO) focused on defending human rights. Established in 1978, the organization has gained a reputation for being one of the most effective human rights NGOs in the world. The organization’s activities focus on investigating, documenting, and advocating for policies to prevent human rights violations.

Objectives, Structure, and Funding

The organization was established in 1978 as Helsinki Watch. This name referred to the organization’s focus on supporting citizens’ groups throughout the Soviet Union to monitor the government’s adherence to the 1975 Helsinki Accords. Soviet bloc governments that failed to comply with these accords were publicly named and shamed, and in so doing Helsinki Watch increased international attention on the violations carried out in this region. Other “Watch committees” were established ...

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