26 Hum. Rts. Q. 63 (2004)
Defending Economic Social and Cultural Rights: Practical Issues Faced by an International Human Rights Organization

handle is hein.journals/hurq26 and id is 73 raw text is: HUMAN RIGHTS QUARTERLY
Defending Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights: Practical Issues
Faced by an International
Human Rights Organization
Kenneth Roth*
ABSTRACT
International organizations like Human Rights Watch are legitimately
urged to pay more attention to economic, social and cultural rights. But
practical prescriptions are often simplistic-typically involving only the
rhetorical invocation of these rights. The strength of organizations like
Human Rights Watch is not their rhetorical voice but their shaming
methodology-their ability to investigate misconduct and expose it to
public opprobrium. That methodology is most effective when there is
relative clarity about violation, violator, and remedy. That clarity is best
achieved when misconduct can be portrayed as arbitrary or discriminatory
rather than a matter of purely distributive justice.
Over the last decade, many have urged international human rights organiza-
tions to pay more attention to economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights. I
agree with this prescription, and for several years Human Rights Watch has
* Kenneth Roth is the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, a post he has held since
1993. Human Rights Watch investigates, reports on, and seeks to curb human rights abuses
in some seventy countries. From 1987 to 1993, Roth served as deputy director of the
organization. Previously, he was a federal prosecutor in New York and Washington and a
private litigator. He has conducted human rights investigations around the globe, devoting
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 over seventy articles and chapters on a wide range of human rights
topics.
Human Rights Quarterly 26 (2004) 63-73  2004 by The Johns Hopkins University Press

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