After thirty years at the head of the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), the American Kenneth Roth will leave the management of the NGO in August, HRW announced on Tuesday 26 April.
“It’s time to pass the torch”, the 66-year-old director of HRW said on Twitter, without giving a specific reason or detailing his future plans. He was pleased to have, with his teams, “is building a leading force in the defense of the rights of people around the world”.
I am privileged to have headed Human Rights Watch for three decades. With my colleagues and our supporters, we have… https://t.co/hL6IXMOgpg
Under the direction of this American lawyer, “HRW has grown from a team of approximately 60 people with a budget of $7 million to a staff of 552 covering more than 100 countries with a budget of almost $100 million”écrit HRW in a statement.
Nobel Peace Prize in 1997
In 1997, the organization was co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for its action against anti-personnel landmines. Under his leadership, writes HRW, the organization documented war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia, the former Yugoslavia, Peru, and played “an important role in the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2001”despite strong resistance from the United States.
Mr. Roth has also “globalised advocacy activities” of HRW by establishing offices in Brussels, London, Tokyo, Sydney, Johannesburg… After the attacks of September 11, 2001, HRW documented and revealed the use of “ black sites » (« black sites »), where US officials interrogated and tortured suspected terrorists.
In 30 years, “Kenneth Roth inevitably made a lot of enemies”recalls the press release. “Although Jewish (and having a father who fled Nazi Germany when he was 12), he was attacked for Human Rights Watch’s criticism of Israeli government abuses »recalls HRW.
Rwanda also strongly criticized HRW after the organization reported on the crackdown under President Paul Kagame, and the Chinese government has “sanctioned” Mr. Roth and expelled him from Hong Kong in 2020, recalls the organization.
Tirana Hassan, director of HRW’s programs division, has been named interim executive director.