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A Study of the Origin of Human Rights Watch, a Human Rights Organization

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Human Rights Watch is a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization consisting of about 400 staff members around the world (“About”: Human Rights Watch). Human Rights Watch was established in 1978 and is well known for its accurate fact-finding, unbiased reporting, practical use of media, and targeted advocacy. HRW is frequently in partnership with local human rights groups. (“About”: Human Rights Watch). Human Rights Watch meets with governments, the United Nations, and regional groups like the African Union and European Union, institutions and corporations. As an organization that is heavily invested in Nigeria, Human Rights Watch would like to see an arrangement that includes increased spending in the Delta region and enhanced legal and political protections for all Nigerians, and specifically the citizens of the area (ICONS: Scenario Introduction). This non-governmental organization has been specifically critical of Nigeria, and has released many reports regarding the situation of political and ethnic minorities (ICONS: Scenario Introduction). A long term security goal of the Human Rights Watch is to aid the Nigerian Government in providing adequate civilian protection (“Nigeria”: Human Rights Watch). Another long term security goal implemented by the Human Rights Watch is to focus on the sufficiency of efforts to ensure accountability for major crimes before domestic courts (“Nigeria”: Human Rights Watch). A short term security goal of HRW is to improve the quality of life for the Ogoni people in Niger Delta.

Some specific crises that the HRW organization recognizes are “military misconduct, abuses of the legal system, mistreatment of women, and the struggle of the Ogoni” (ICONS: Role Sheet for Human Rights Watch). Some long term economic goals to resolve these issues “include calls for independent legal inquiry on past abuses in the region, increased equity in resource distribution, and international pressure on the government and oil companies to insure that steps are taken to alleviate the crisis” (ICONS: Role Sheet for Human Rights Watch). Economic issues are of less concern for HRW, however, a fair outcome of economic issues will affect the security dimension. A short term economic goal for the HRW is to create an abundance of jobs in order to establish communities where businesses can thrive, schools can be built, and violence can decrease.

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B). Human Rights Watch Organization deals with international and domestic political situations regarding Nigeria. The domestic political situation in Nigeria is that their government is going through a transition into democracy, so HRW has been monitoring the new government on many issues such as “mistreatment of prisoners and the situation in the Niger Delta” (ICONS: Participation Information). HRW has been very influential in bringing the issues that they recognize to international attention. The corruption of the government proves to be an influential obstacle standing in the way of Human Rights Watch’s goals. Nigeria ranks as the thirty-third most corrupt country in the world. The Nigerian government’s corruption is proven as the country gains significant revenue from their massive oil production, yet their economy fails to improve because many government officials pocket the money. The corruption of the government hinders the achievement of HRW’s goals because the government would lose significant revenue if they were on board with HRW. Election rigging proves to be a significant issue in the country that potentially hinders HRW’s success. Because of the election rigging, the same corrupt leaders are elected, making the government very difficult to change. The international recognition of the issues in Nigeria aids Human Rights Watch in achieving their goals because it encourages other NGO’s to get involved and make a difference in the country. The Nigerian Government will most likely not be supportive of HRW’s goals. The Nigerian government is reliant on oil exports, so any incoming organization that supports the rights of the citizens could potentially disrupt the country’s oil exports and cause further distress for the government. The Nigerian military will most definitely not support Human Rights Watch’s goals because they have few regards for human rights. HRW has published recent reports on Nigeria regarding military misconduct. Similar to the Nigerian government, the Nigerian Military is heavily involved with “issues related to the exploitation of the oil resources of the Delta Region (ICONS: Participant Information). Human Rights Watch would like to see increased spending in the Delta region and improved protection for all Nigerians. The Nigerian military does little to protect the citizens of Nigeria. For example, a militant group called the Boko Haram carries out vicious attacks on civilians, yet “Nigerian security forces have neither taken adequate steps to protect civilians during operations against Boko Haram, nor to protect the rights of rescued hostages” (hrw.org). HRW has been very critical of the role of the military in the government of the country. Shell oil would most likely not support HRW’s goals because they know that HRW would like to see increased spending in the Delta region, and HRW pressures oil companies to take steps to resolve the issue of human rights abuses in the Delta region. However, it is well-known that Shell oil is concerned about their public opinion, so by striking a deal with HRW, their public opinion could possibly improve. The IMF would most likely support HRW’s goals because they are very involved with issues dealing with the exploitation of oil. The Ogoni people most definitely support the goals of HRW because they are heavily invested in improving human right in their area. The Ogoni people lack many basic social services, so they are heavily supportive of HRW’s goals in the area. Greenpeace supports HRW’s goals because they oppose Shell Oil and care deeply for human rights. They have a similar goal to establish rights for the Ogoni people. HRW has the Coalition of Women’s Group’s support because they are both concerned with the mistreatment of women in Nigeria.

C). HRW would like to see adequate civilian protection in Nigeria, so our strategic plan to fulfill this goal is send a proposal to the Nigerian government in which we commend them on their involvement in human rights and ask them to continue their involvement by increasing citizen protection through the Nigerian military. We will approach the Nigerian government with warm regards because they are heavily pressured by all NGO’s. HRW will attempt to achieve its goal of creating more jobs by partnering with the Nigerian government to ensure that the distribution of resources is equal. This could create more jobs because it would allow communities to grow. With the growth of communities comes the growth of schools, and in return could help HRW achieve its goal of bettering education in Nigeria.

HRW is willing to compromise on issues regarding the education in Nigeria. There are more vital human rights that need to be dealt with before tackling the lack and corruption of Nigerian education. We are also willing to compromise on environmental issues because we understand that Greenpeace will be involved with decreasing pollution. HRW would rather focus on issues regarding human rights for the Ogoni people, one of our important security goals. Another security goal that we will not compromise on is the provision of adequate citizen protection by the government. HRW will issue reports criticizing the Nigerian military for their abuse of civilians and long standing corruption. This could turn them away from any agreement with us, but it could also make them more agreeable because our criticizing reports would “undercut military support” (ICONS: Role Sheet). We plan to issue a report commending progress by the Nigerian government in order to alleviate some of their international pressure. Hopefully, this action will make them more agreeable regarding our future proposals. We plan to issue a special report on the Ogoni struggle which will draw attention to the conditions of the Delta. Unfortunately, Shell oil, IMF, and the Nigerian government will be bitter about this report. We plan to issue a special report on the Coalition of Women’s Groups in order to focus attention on the struggle of women. Again, Shell oil, IMF, and the Nigerian government will resent this decision.

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