HALL OF FAME – THUNDER ON THE RIGHTS – by Brad Pitt
Because he directs the hardest-hitting and most fearless human-rights organization in the world, Human Rights Watch. Because his name sends a chill down the spine of human-rights abusers, making them think twice about the potential cost of their repression. Human Rights Watch turns 30 this year, and if its first 15 years established the New York–based group as a stinging critic of abusive governments on the left and the right, its second 15 years, under the deft command of Kenneth Roth, has seen Human Rights Watch go global. Roth, a former federal prosecutor, has quintupled the organization’s size and greatly expanded its impact. Funded entirely by private donations, it operates in some 80 countries, including the darkest and most oppressed. At the heart of the group’s effectiveness: meticulous field research, which creates an incontrovertible record of human-rights crimes, coupled with hardheaded advocacy. As The Village Voice noted, this is where the real investigative journalism of our times is getting done. For example, Human Rights Watch’s many reports on the war in West Africa helped bring about the prosecution of the former Liberian president Charles Taylor by a United Nations special court this year—sending a wake-up call to dictators everywhere. With Radovan Karadzic, the alleged Bosnian Serb genocidaire, now awaiting trial in The Hague, and Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, facing charges, tyrants worldwide, such as Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, had better look out. Ken Roth is on the watch.