Andy Nahas, President of The Prospect Fund and Kenneth Roth, HRW Executive Director first met at the CGI 2007 annual meeting. CGI provided the perfect opportunity to come together over shared goals and a vision for a world in which human dignity is valued. Such dignity is enhanced by the CGI goals of giving more people access to education, health, and nutrition, and a sustainable living environment, the attainment of which are accelerated when people are empowered with more information regarding human rights, especially in their own language.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) is attempting to enlist more governments to serve as a moral voice and source of pressure for human rights advancement around the world. To accomplish this goal, HRW has recently expanded its media outreach and policy advocacy in key, influential capitals across the globe, including Paris, Berlin, Cairo, and Johannesburg, and it is now actively pursuing similar presences in Tokyo and Delhi. To communicate effectively in these capitals, HRW will need to translate more of its research findings and recommendations into French, German, Arabic, Japanese, and Hindi, among other languages, to better engage the media, policymakers, and the general public in efforts to halt the abuses that HRW investigates and exposes.
Similarly, with the rise of the internet, HRW has an enormous opportunity to communicate with people who have been victims of human rights abuse and create a dialogue about respect for human rights in places that violate these rights. The internet also provides a means to convey information about human rights concerns where they are not often discussed in the press. But HRW cannot contribute to these important discussions, nor make its work available to the growing numbers of people globally who get their news online, without translating more of its reports, press releases, editorials, and advocacy documents.
The expansion of HRW's translation capacity will allow the organization's work to be more accessible to government officials, journalists, and the general public, through both the internet and targeted media outreach. HRW can be a more successful advocacy organization if it can communicate directly with policymakers and their constituents in their own language.
With sufficient funding, Human Rights Watch will enhance its translations capacity by:
Hiring full-time, professional web editors who can oversee each of the foreign-language pages of the HRW website and market the pages from these sites to contacts in the media, government, and rights community. These editors would keep HRW's foreign-language websites as vibrant and up-to-date as its English site. Staff would be based in HRW's New York headquarters or in relevant regional offices, work 40 hours per week, and would be permanently employed by HRW assuming additional funding.
Maintaining a stable of translators in the myriad languages in which translations are needed. Although HRW has used volunteer translators on occasion, experience has demonstrated that professional translations are inevitably more timely and reliable. Translators would be based domestically and internationally, however their work hours and length of employment would vary based on individual translation needs.
Hiring a translation coordinator to efficiently manage the translation of material across the organization and ensure quality control and legal accuracy in various languages. The translation coordinator would be based in HRW's New York office, work 40 hours per week, and would be permanently employed by HRW assuming additional funding.
MEASURE OF SUCCESS
In all of the work that it conducts worldwide, Human Rights Watch is committed to rigorous, transparent, and consistent self-evaluation. When looking at its impact, HRW determines whether or not it has met its goals to bring about positive change for those facing human rights violations. The organization continually solicits input on its progress from key interlocutors, local human rights partners, and critics to measure the efficacy of its strategies and to ensure optimum allocation of resources.
If abuses that Human Rights Watch has investigated and reported on decrease, the work has been successful. Often, since it takes a great deal of time to bring entrenched human rights abuses to an end, HRW considers interim criteria for evaluation. These include:
Whether it has succeeded in generating prominent press coverage about the abuses
Whether other governments and institutions have acted on these revelations by protesting the abuses or exerting diplomatic or economic pressure on abusers
Whether it has succeeded in building or protecting outspoken indigenous opposition to abuses
Whether the abusing entity or group engages with HRW - ideally by beginning a constructive dialogue
Whether new policies aimed at ending abuses are implemented
Whether the abuses HRW has investigated and reported on decrease or come to an end
HRW will launch its new website in July 2008, which will also improve the efficiency of foreign language sites by reducing the need for extensive HTML coding and allowing web editors to spend more time translating material and promoting the organization's work in non-English markets. Assuming the availability of sufficient funding, HRW will hire:
- a full-time translation coordinator to oversee translation and vetting of material across the organization and manage various foreign language web editors (August 2008);
- full-time, professional web editors for Spanish and French language sites (Fall 2008). Web editors will be responsible for translation and vetting, in addition to marketing and promotion of individual foreign language sites.
SEEKING: Financial resources, implementing partners, media/marketing opportunities.
Human Rights Watch has embarked on a bold Global Challenge campaign to deepen its research capacity in areas where it is too thinly staffed. The campaign also seeks to expand the organization's advocacy capacity in key regional centers including São Paolo, Cairo, Nairobi, and Bangkok. To fully implement this strategic plan, Human Rights Watch needs to grow its team of activists by nearly one-third. Based in the countries they cover, these staff members will build vital bridges with local officials, policy-makers, and the media.