Source Description

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Human Rights First is a non-profit, non-partisan international human rights organisation that “believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence“ (Human Rights First Website,, accessed on 25 March 2008).
“Human Rights First was founded in 1978 as the Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights to promote laws and policies that advance universal rights and freedoms.“ (Human Rights First Website,, accessed on 25 March 2008)
It is based in New York and Washington DC.
Target group:
National and international policymakers, UN, NGOs, media, general public.
Human Rights First objective is to “fight for equality and for freedom of thought, expression, and religion”; “support people who struggle to promote these principles within their own societies”; “work to hold accountable under the law those who violate these principles”; “strive to ensure the security of individuals and to protect against the arbitrary exercise of state power”; “confront human rights challenges with strategic responses” and “build a global movement of people who share these principles“ (Human Rights First Website,, accessed on 25 March 2008).
According to the statement provided on its website, Human Rights First does not accept government funding in order to maintain independence (Human Rights First Website,, accessed on 25 March 2008).
Human Rights First activities are funded by foundations, individuals, law firms and corporations. The major donors are: The Atlantic Philanthropies; Andi and Tom A. Bernstein; FLC – A Foundation of Donor Advised Funds; Ford Foundation; Francis W. Hatch; Huyler C. Held; JEHT Foundation; the Kaplen Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; John Merck Fund; the Oak Foundation; Open Society Institute; the Picower Foundation; Jay & Kelly Sugarman Foundation; Deborah Miller and William D. Zabel (Human Rights First: 2005 – 2006 Annual Report,, accessed on 25 March 2008).
Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: Most countries of the world (where Human Rights First aid and/or attention is needed) such as Sudan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Colombia, Russian Federation, Iran, Cuba, Indonesia.
Thematic focus: Crisis and war conflicts; genocide and other crimes against humanity; detention and interrogation practices; access to counsel; summary deportations; justice and accountability; discrimination, anti-Semitism and hate crimes; prosecutions; torture; and other human rights concerns and abuses.
Reporting methodology:
Reports are primarily written by members of Human Rights First staff (directors, consultants, assistants, researchers, advisors) in cooperation with other experts in a respective issue, such as lawyers, judges, professors, scholars, journalists and human rights activists who provide essential information, assistance, critical insights and advice.
Information contained in reports is gained by various means, including meetings with representatives from international organisations and the non-profit community, academia, the legal community and the media; court records; government reports; declassified documents and other documentary sources.
Some reports are results or follow-ups of broader programmes, projects or surveys, such as the 2007 Hate Crime Survey; Lifeline for Iraqi refugees; Ending Contractor Impunity in Iraq and Afghanistan; Detainee Abuse and Accountability Project. Some projects are undertaken jointly by Human Rights First and several other organisations or institutions (Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law, Human Rights Watch, etc).
Note: Information on reporting methodology is gathered from information provided in “acknowledgements” of various HRF reports.
Publication cycle:
Reports, press releases and statements are published on an irregular basis.
Navigation of website:
Home: Latest reports, programmes and calls for action; it is possible to search for information choosing an issue.
Media Room: Press releases and new reports.
Program: Information selected on the basis of programmes realised by Human Rights First.
Additional references:
NGO Monitor (an Israeli NGO): Human Rights First: Without political bias, 19 June 2007 (accessed on 25 March 2008)
Source Watch: Human Rights First (accessed on 25 March 2008)
Charity Navigator (US non-profit-organisation that evaluates American charities): Human Rights First (accessed on 25 March 2008)