Human rights organizations come in sizes large and small, some are government sponsored and some are non-governmental organizations (NGO), but all support the effort to make human rights a priority everywhere. Below are a list of some of the largest and most well-known organizations promoting human rights for everyone.
With a total of 3 million people involved through volunteerism and activism, Amnesty International is active in over 150 countries, and the American arm will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. The organization deliberately keeps itself separate from any government or corporate agenda. They aim to bring human rights to every person in the world regardless of race, religion, gender, or ethnicity. To achieve this end Amnesty International engages in lobbying, education and often works to free prisoners of conscience.
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch was originally named Helsinki Watch when it was founded in 1978 to ensure the Soviet Union complied with the Helsinki Accords. Their strategy of covering human rights violations in the media was effective and helped transform the Soviet Union. There were other “Watch” organizations that adopted similar strategies and goals in other regions. These organizations which were monitoring The Middle East, Africa, and Asia came together in 1988 to form Human Rights Watch. They monitor and condemn a wide variety of human rights abuses including torture, corruption and the use of children in the military.
The International Labour Organization (ILO)
The vast majority of UN member countries are a part of the ILO. The organization works to protect basic worker rights and improve security and fair pay, and prevent inhumane employment practices. To do this the ILO includes governments, employers and employees in its governing structure. Their main focuses are on ending forced labor and child labor and have made great strides with each.
Human Rights First
Formerly known as Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights, Human Rights First was founded in 1978 and is based in New York and Washington D.C. The organization seeks to protect refugees around the world and believe human rights are for everyone. Human Rights First often works to fight human rights violations within the United States and pushes the government to intervene abroad when it finds human rights violations. The organization itself admits that true change has to come from within a country and outside influence can only do so much.
United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation addresses a wide variety of human rights related causes including climate change, energy, technology, and women’s rights. Started in 1998, the foundation received a generous donation of $1 billion dollars from Ted Turner. The organization works closely with the UN and is the UN’s largest source of funding from private sources.
United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
A well known human rights organization, UNICEF works in developing countries to provide assistance to children and mothers. It was started in 1946 to provide humanitarian assistance to the countries that were destroyed during World War II. UNICEF is one of the most well funded human rights organizations and accepts contributions from both private donors and governments. UNICEF works with over 200 countries to give assistance in the form of medicines, shelter, educational supplies and more. In 2006, FC Barcelona became the first sports team to support an organization as opposed to being sponsored by an organization when they agreed to show the UNICEF logo on their jerseys and provide donations annually.
World Health Organization (WHO)
The World Health Organization is an agency of the United Nations that focuses exclusively on health issues throughout the world. WHO came into the spotlight recently with their work in Africa fighting the spread of ebola. WHO helps educate people on both communicable diseases like HIV and non-communicable disease like malnutrition. They were an integral part of the eradication of small pox.