Human Rights Watch has announced a ten-year, $100 million challenge grant from the Open Society Foundations to expand the group's global presence so it can more effectively protect and promote human rights around the world.
The terms of the grant — the largest ever awarded by the Open Society Foundations — stipulate that Human Rights Watch must raise an additional $100 million in private contributions. The grant, matching funds, and additional fundraising will support the implementation of the organization's strategic plan to become a truly global organization. To achieve that goal, the organization will increase its annual budget from $48 million to $80 million within five years in order to staff advocacy offices in key regional capitals around the world and will deepen its research on countries of concern, with a focus on influencing emerging powers in the global South to push a pro-human rights agenda.
The plan also will allow Human Rights Watch to fill significant gaps in its reporting network, especially in parts of Africa and Asia, and develop relationships with journalists who can reach local audiences. The organization currently has a staff of nearly three hundred in some ninety countries around the world.
"Human Rights Watch is one of the most effective organizations I support," said Open Society Foundations founder and chairman George Soros. "Human rights underpin our greatest aspirations: they're at the heart of open societies....Human Rights Watch can have even greater impact by being genuinely international in scope. [It] must be present in capitals around the globe, addressing local issues, allied with local rights groups, and engaging with local government officials. In five years' time it aims to have as much as half its income and a majority of its board members come from outside the United States."