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Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East andNorth Africa division, is a general expert on WhitsonMiddle East and North Africa issues. She has led landmark investigations of human rights conditions in Libya and Saudi Arabia and numerous advocacy missions in the region, and overseen over 20 research missions and edited the resulting reports. She has published articles on the Middle East in international and regional publications. Prior to her work at Human Rights Watch, she conducted several human rights missions in region, including missions examining the impact of war and sanctions on the Iraqi civilian population, elections in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, and human rights issues in southern Lebanon. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Whitson worked as an attorney in New York for Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Law School. Whitson is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Black Swan of the Middle East
Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director, Middle East and North Africa Division Human Rights Watch

Robert L. Bernstein  has devoted his life to the active defense of freedom of expression and to the protection of Bernsteinvictims of injustice and abuse throughout the world.  As one of the most influential voices in American publishing for over three decades, he is also a dominant force in the development of the international human rights movement.

Mr. Bernstein started as an office boy at Simon & Schuster in 1946, moved to Random House in 1956 and succeeded Bennett Cerf as President and CEO in 1966.  He headed Random House for 25 years.  He published many great American authors, including William Faulkner, James Michener, Dr. Seuss, Toni Morrison and William Styron.

After being invited to the Soviet Union as part of a delegation from the Association of American Publishers, he became interested in writers whose work could not be published in their own countries.  Beginning with Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner, he ensured that authors like Vaclav Havel, Jacobo Timerman and Wei Jinsheng were all published around the world.

After his experience in Moscow in 1973, Mr. Bernstein returned to the U.S. and established the Fund for Free Expression, which eventually grew into Human Rights Watch.  Today, Human Rights Watch has a staff of nearly two hundred and covers some 70 countries.  With offices in a dozen places, Human Rights Watch is renowned for superb research and extremely effective advocacy on a broad range of issues, including women’s rights, children’s rights, international justice, the human rights responsibilities of corporations, refugees, arms transfers and free expression everywhere.  Mr. Bernstein served as Chair for twenty years and remains active as Founding Chair.  He is also Chair Emeritus of the largest Chinese human rights organization, Human Rights in China, with offices in New York and Hong Kong.

Are Human Rights Organizations Helping or Hurting Relations between Israel, Palestine and the Arabs?

Robert L. Bernstein, Publisher and Human Rights Activist

In 2004, former Marine Captain Brian Steidle accepted a contract position with the Joint Military Commission in the SteidleNuba Mountains of Sudan working on the North-South ceasefire, now a peace treaty.  Within seven months he worked his way up from a Team Leader to the Senior Operations Officer.  Brian was then invited to serve in Darfur as an unarmed military observer and U.S. representative to the African Union.  He was one of only three Americans serving with a coalition of African countries monitoring the ceasefire between the two African rebel groups and the Government of Sudan.  After six months, Brian’s conscience would no longer allow him to stand by without taking further action, and he became convinced that he could be more effective by bringing the story of what he witnessed to the world.

Since Brian's return from Darfur, he has spoken at over 500 public awareness events in communities and at universities across the country.  He has testified in the US Congress and the UK Parliament, and continues to advise Non-Governmental Organizations, Government Agencies and the International Criminal Court on such subjects as intelligence gathering, NGO operations, AU effectiveness, war crimes, and Sudanese Government military operations.   

Save Darfur Coalition sponsored a special speaking tour in Spring 2006 which took Brian 22,000 miles across our nation for over 50 events.  He has spoken before the UN Human Rights Commission, the British House of Commons, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Senate Republican Steering Committee, and he has officially testified before the Human Rights and Africa Subcommittee of the Congressional Foreign Relations Committee. He remains an advisor to numerous NGOs regarding their policies on Darfur.

Brian currently serves as the Executive Director of  HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere), a non-profit organization he founded with his wife Andi Scull Steidle.  HOPE is an energy conscious humanitarian organization focused on involving artists and their contributions in campaigns, programs and events to support existing social projects that promote education and growth around the world.

Hope for Darfur

Brian Steidle, former Marine Captain and executive director of HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere)

As Media Director of Human Rights Watch, Minky Worden works with the world’s journalists to help them cover Wordencrises, wars, human rights abuses and political developments in more than 70 countries worldwide.

Before joining Human Rights Watch in 1998, Ms. Worden lived and worked in Hong Kong as an adviser to Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee and worked at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. as a speechwriter for the U.S. Attorney General and in the Executive Office for US Attorneys.

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Ms. Worden speaks Cantonese and German. An elected member of the Overseas Press Club's Board of Governors, she is also on the Advisory Board of Seven Stories Press.

She is the editor of China's Great Leap: The Beijing Games and Olympian Human Rights Challenges (Seven Stories, May 2008) and the co-editor of Torture (New Press, 2005). She regularly publishes analysis in opeds and speaks on topics including human rights in China, Sudan and Vietnam. More background on China’s Great Leap is here:

Recent op-ed pieces on China were published in The Times of London and the International Herald Tribune

Ms. Worden regularly speaks at panel and forum discussions on human rights and does interviews for radio and television, including ABC, NPR’s All Things Considered and the Brian Lehrer Show. Human Rights Watch’s website is

An Evening with Minky Worden
Minky Worden, Media Director Human Rights Watch

Natan Sharansky is an internationally renowned human rights activist, political leader, and author.

During the Cold War, Sharansky became active in the human rights movement led by Andre Sakharov, as well as one of Sharanskythe most prominent Jewish dissidents in the Soviet Union. He was a founding member and spokesman of the Helsinki Monitoring Group, which reported on Soviet compliance with international agreements. His fight for freedom during nine years of imprisonment by the Soviet police state was a milestone in the global struggle for human rights. It was in Russia that Shirley Goldstein became acquainted with Sharansky. She was very influential in getting his case (and the case of many other dissidents) known to the free world. Mr. Sharansky was released on February 11, 1986, emigrated to Israel and arrived in Jerusalem on that very day.

Since his arrival to Israel he became active in the integration of Soviet Jews and formed the Zionist Forum , an organization dedicated to helping new Israelis and education and educating the public about absorption issues. In 1994, he co-founded Peace Watch – an independent non-partisan group committed to monitoring the compliance to agreements signed by Israel and the PLO. He also served as Associate Editor of “The Jerusalem Report”. In 1996, he formed the political party Yisrael B’Aliya dedicated to accelerating the absorption of the massive numbers of Russian immigrants into Israeli society.

From 1996 to 2005, Sharansky served as Minister, as well as Deputy Prime Minister in all of the successive governments. In November 2006 Natan Sharansky resigned from the Israeli Knesset and assumed the position of Chairman of the newly established Institute for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem..

His Memoir, Fear no Evil, was published in the United States in 1988 and has been translated into nine languages. His most recent book The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror attracted wide-spread attention.

He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the United States Congress the Presidential Medal of Freedom..

An Evening with Natan Sharansky
Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Institute for Strategic Studies, The Shalem Center

The Goldstein Lecture on Human Rights 2006, "Claims – legitimate and exaggerated – about Human Rights in MarksDevelopment,"  will be presented by Stephen P. Marks, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health and Visiting Professor School of Law City University of Hong Kong. The lecture will be held Thursday, October 19, 2005, 7:00 p.m. at the Milo Bail Student Center Dodge Room.

The Program on Human Rights in Development was established as part of the FXB Center on Health and Human Rights in 1999. Since September 2006, it moved to the Department of Population and International Health. In addition to follow up to the Dutch-funded project on the Right to Development, the work plan of the Program on Human Rights in Development includes the Nobel book, the UNICEF project, the UNESCO project, the implementation of economic social and cultural rights project, the China-India project, the High-level Task force and miscellaneous publications.

Human Rights in Development Competing Claims and Economic Empowerment
Stephen P. Marks, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health and Visiting Professor, School of Law City University of Hong Kong

Jerry Fowler is the first staff director of the Committee on Conscience, which guides the genocide prevention efforts of Fowlerthe United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

He previously was legislative counsel for the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, where he worked on a broad array of human rights issues, including international justice and refugee and asylum policy.

His publications include the essay, “Out of that Darkness: Preventing Genocide in the 21st Century,” in the 2nd edition of Century of Genocide: Eyewitness Accounts and Critical Views (Routledge, 2004). He also directed the short film A Good Man in Hell: General Romeo Dallaire and the Rwanda Genocide, based on a program at the Museum.

Mr. Fowler has taught at George Mason University Law School and George Washington University Law School, and has been a Scholar-in-Residence at American University’s summer Human Rights Institute. He is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Princeton University.

From 1983 to 1987, he was stationed in Germany as an officer in the United States Army. From 1993 to 1995, he served as Special Litigation Counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Genocide Emergency Sudan: Who will survive today?

Jerry Fowler, J.D. Staff Director Committee on Conscience, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Dr. David Chandler is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of ChandlerWestminster, London.  Dr. Chandler's research interests are in post-Cold War transformations of the international sphere at the level of both ideas and institutional practice. He is currently working on a book on the relationship between NGOs and states in international relations and co-editing a book on global civil society.

He is a graduate of Manchester University, holds a LLB (Bachelor of Legal Letters/ Legum Baccalaureus) from the University of Northumbria; a master's degree in the history of ideas, and a Ph.D. in international social policy from Leeds Metropolitan University. 

He is the author of From Kosovo to Kabul: Human Rights and International Intervention (2002) and Bosnia: Faking Democracy after Dayton (1999, 2000), and the editor of Rethinking Human Rights: Critical Approaches to International Politics (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2002). He has contributed to many journals, including the International Journal of Human Rights, Radical Philosophy, WeltTrends: Zeitschrift for internationale Politik, Political Studies, Global Dialogue, British Journal of Politics & International Relations, Current History, Democratization, International Peacekeeping, and New Left Review. He has contributed to edited volumes including South Eastern Europe: Weak States and Strong International Support (2003), Debating Cosmopolitics (2003), and Europe in the World: The Future for EU Foreign and Development Policies (2003).

Human Rights: Morality versus Power
David Chandler, Senior Lecturer Centre for the Study of Democracy University of Westminster, London

Dr. William F. Schulz was appointed Executive Director of Amnesty International. (USA) in March,1994. An ordained SchulzUnitarian Universalist minister, he came to Amnesty after serving for fifteen years with the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA), the last eight (1985-93) as President of the Association.

As President of the UUA, Dr. Schulz was involved in a wide variety of international and social justice causes. He led the first visit by a U. S. Member of Congress to post-revolutionary Romania in January, 1991, two weeks after the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu. That delegation was instrumental in the subsequent improvement in the rights of religious and ethnic minorities in Romania.

Dr. Schulz spent February, 1992, in India in consultation with the Holdeen India Fund, a fund dedicated to ending communal violence and to the political and economic empowerment of women, bonded laborers and others. He led fact-finding missions to the Middle East and Northern Ireland and was instrumental in his denomination's opposition to U. S. military aid to El Salvador.

In 1997 he led an Amnesty mission to Liberia to investigate atrocities committed during the civil war there and returned to Northern Ireland with the human rights organization in 1999 to insist that human rights protections be incorporated into the peace process. During his years with Amnesty he has traveled extensively, both in the US and abroad.

From 1985-93 he served on the Council of the International Association for Religious Freedom, the oldest international interfaith organization in the world. Throughout his career he has been outspoken in his opposition to the death penalty and his support for women's rights, gay and lesbian rights and racial justice, having organized, participated in demonstrations and written extensively on behalf of all four causes.

He has appeared frequently on radio and television, including "60 Minutes," "20/20," "The Today Show," "Good Morning, America," "All Things Considered," "Talk of the Nation," "ABC World News," "Larry King Live," "Politically Incorrect," and on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, FOX News and Bloomberg News. He has published and is quoted widely in newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Review of Books, The Nation, The National Interest and Parade and is the author of several books, including Finding Time_and Other Delicacies and Transforming Words: Six Essays on Preaching. In April, 2001 his latest book entitled In Our Own Best Interests: How Defending Human Rights Benefits Us All was published by Beacon Press.

Tainted Legacy: 9/11 and the Ruin of Human Rights
Dr. William Schulz, Executive Director, Amnesty International

Jo Becker is the Children's Rights Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch, an independent organization that Beckerconducts regular, systematic investigations of human rights abuses in some seventy countries around the world. Ms. Becker represents Human Rights Watch before the press, government officials, and the general public, and works with other non-governmental and international organizations to stop abuses against children, including the use of children as soldiers, hazardous child labor, and ill-treatment during detention.

Ms. Becker was the founding chairperson of the International Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers and serves on the steering committee of the U.S. Campaign to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. She has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the issue of child soldiers and recently returned from a three-week investigative mission along the Thai-Burma border to document child recruitment in Burma. 

Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Miami Herald and numerous magazines. She is also author of Human Rights Watch reports on the detention of unaccompanied minors by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service and worldwide violence against children.

Prior to joining the staff of Human Rights Watch, Ms. Becker was the executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), a national interfaith peace and justice organization.

Easy Targets: Children and Human Rights
Jo Becker, Children's Rights Division Advocacy Director Human Rights Watch

LaShawn R. Jefferson has been working for HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH (HRW) for the past eight years. She is JeffersonDirector of the Women's Rights Division of HRW. Ms. Jefferson's first report for HRW, which was published in 1994, focused on the use of rape as a weapon of terror in Haiti. Her most recent report (Summer 2001) is the result of investigating labor rights violations against female maquiladora (export processing ) workers and live-in domestics in Guatemala.

Among her many other projects around the world, Ms. Jefferson has investigated pregnancy-based discrimination in Mexico, the use of sexual violence against women arrested for alleged political crimes in Peru, and the sexual and domestic violence against Burundi women in refugee camps in western Tanzania.

Ms. Jefferson was a member of the HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH delegation to the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, as well as the NGO Parallel Conference held at the same time. She also worked with a coalition of women's rights activists to urge Congress to pass legislation to protect the rights of trafficking victims. The success of her efforts came in October of 2000 when then President Clinton signed into law the "Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000" (H.R. 3244)

China's Great Leap: What Olympic Legacy for Human Rights in China?
Lashawn R. Jefferson, Director of the Women's Rights Division, Human Rights Watch

Kenneth Roth is the executive director of Human Rights Watch, a post he has held since 1993. From 1987 to 1993 Rothhe served as deputy director of the organization. Previously, he was a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and the Iran-contra investigation in Washington. He also worked in private practice as a litigator.

Mr. Roth has conducted human rights investigations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. He has devoted special attention to issues of justice and accountability for gross abuses of human rights, standards governing military conduct in time of war, the human rights policies of the United States and the United Nations, and the human rights responsibilities of multinational businesses. He has written extensively on a range of human rights topics in publications such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, the Nation, and the New York Review of Books. He appears often in the major media, including NPR, the BBC, CNN, PBS, and the principal U.S. networks. He has testified repeatedly before the U.S. Congress as well as before the French Parliament and the United Nations.

A graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University, Mr. Roth was drawn to the human rights cause in part by his father's experience fleeing Nazi Germany in 1938. He began working on human rights after the declaration of martial law in Poland in 1981, and soon also became deeply engaged in fighting military repression in Haiti. In his seven years as executive director of Human Rights Watch, the organization has doubled in size while adding special projects devoted to refugees, children's rights, academic freedom, international justice, and the human rights responsibilities of multinational corporations.

An Evening with Kenneth Roth
Kenneth Roth, Executive Director Human Rights Watch

"Human Rights in China is the most hated organization in China," says Xiao Qiang. "We put the issue on the map. It never goes away."

As its executive director for the past eight years, Xiao has helped the nonprofit organization grow into an influential xiaoauthority in China. Founded by a group of Chinese scholars in 1989, the group monitors human rights abuses and spreads human rights awareness inside and outside China. Xiao's lanky frame and rebellious long hair have also become a fixture at congressional hearings and international forums, where he speaks as a champion of dissidents and go-between for them and their audience.

The nerve center of Xiao's work is on the 33rd floor of the Empire State Building. The corporate-looking office with an impressive view of Manhattan is a great leap from the cramped quarters the group shared with another nonprofit for about six years. But there's nothing fancy about Xiao's work space. A flag inked with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights hangs near his computer. A replica of the Goddess of Democracy made by Tiananmen students (its torch-bearing arms were snapped off in transit from China to his office) sits on his desk. Maps of the world and of his country adorn his wall.

Beijing's desire to squash popular unrest is likely to lead to further erosion of human rights, says Xiao. Though China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights last October, it swiftly followed through with a new round of political crackdowns. Xiao considers that a slap in the face for the Clinton administration, which has had a policy of engagement that Xiao feels turns a blind eye to human rights violations in favor of commercial and diplomatic interests.

In protest, Xiao's group last month asked Washington to suspend a two-day human rights summit with China. It went on as scheduled. Likewise, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's visit to Beijing went on as planned Monday. It is expected to pave the way for the first official U.S. visit of Chinese Premiere Zhu Rongji in April.

"The U.S. human rights policy against China needs to have some teeth, which it doesn't right now," Xiao says.

Over the years, Xiao's group has become quite polished and professional. It has a budget of about $350,000 from membership dues and grants, half a dozen staff members, a steady supply of bilingual volunteers and a new office in the heart of Manhattan. Another one in Hong Kong opened in 1996. Few start-up dissident groups can compete with Xiao's impressive board of directors, composed of prominent China experts and established human rights advocates. For government testimony, American politicians know of few others to call on.

"They are not the only human rights organization, but in terms of influence in American, probably they have the biggest," said Luo Daren, chief of Mandarin services at Voice of America.

One fifth of the nonprofit's budget goes toward helping political prisoners find legal recourse. Its most famous beneficiary is the outspoken activist Wei Jingsheng, the poster child of the Chinese democracy movement who spent 18 years in prison. The bulk of Western reports on Wei's case was based on the trial documentation produced by his staffers, Xiao says. Among the many petitions they drafted on behalf of political prisoners, one for Wei had about 2,000 signatures, including more than 20 Nobel laureates.

On the tenth anniversary of the crackdown at Tiananmen Square
Xiao Qiang, Champion of Democracy