Human Rights First

Our Mission

2012 Annual Report

On human rights, the United States must be a beacon. Activists fighting for freedom around the globe continue to look to us for inspiration and count on us for support. Upholding human rights is not only a moral obligation; it’s a vital national interest. America is strongest when our policies and actions match our values.

Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. We believe American leadership is essential in the struggle for human rights so we press the U.S. government and private companies to respect human rights and the rule of law. When they don’t, we step in to demand reform, accountability and justice. Around the world, we work where we can best harness American influence to secure core freedoms.

We know that it is not enough to expose and protest injustice, so we create the political environment and policy solutions necessary to ensure consistent respect for human rights.  Whether we are protecting refugees, combating torture, or defending persecuted minorities, we focus not on making a point, but on making a difference.  For over 30 years, we’ve built bipartisan coalitions and teamed up with frontline activists and lawyers to tackle issues that demand American leadership.

Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. To maintain our independence, we accept no government funding.

2012 Annual Report»

2012 Audited Financials»

Previous Annual Reports»

What We Do

Human Rights First is an independent advocacy organization that challenges our country to live up to its ideals. We press American institutions—including government and business—to respect human rights, seeking to close the gap between values and action. Around the world, we foster American influence to secure core freedoms through the rule of law.


Our Programs

Crimes Against Humanity»
We challenge the enablers of mass atrocities. We put pressure on governments and companies whose activities fuel the world’s worst crimes.

Business and Human Rights»
Because companies can be part of the problem, we hold them accountable for rights violations. Because they can be part of the solution, we work with them to stand up to repressive governments and support human rights.

Fighting Discrimination»
We combat violence motivated by racism, antisemitism, homophobia, and other forms of intolerance.

Human Rights Defenders»
We work with frontline activists to support human rights defenders around the world who risk their lives fighting for change.

Refugee Protection»
We help secure refuge for the persecuted. We connect refugees with pro bono lawyers and we advocate protection for displaced people.

Law and Security»
Because respect for human rights is essential to peace and security in the world, we are working to end torture, close Guantánamo, bring terrorism suspects to justice, and hold private security contractors accountable.
Our Work with Retired Military Leaders»