Human Rights Watch: The Politics of Fear

Human Rights Watch: The Politics of Fear

How have the politics of fear affected global developments in recent years? Which rustles are real and which are imagined? And who benefits from stoking our anxieties?

In a new Human Rights Watch report, executive director Kenneth Roth identifies fear as a factor in many human rights challenges of our time. Fear of war and torture have driven unprecedented numbers of asylum-seekers from their homes. At the same time, fear has influenced many governments in rich countries to close their borders to those seeking refuge.

Meanwhile, authoritarian governments have become increasingly anxious about the strengthening of civil society with the rise of social media. Civil society, Roth argues, is under more aggressive attack than at any time in recent memory. Fear is behind crackdowns across the world on freedom of speech and expression.

In conversation with Emily Howie, Roth discusses human rights in an increasingly anxious, interconnected world.


Portrait of Emily Howie

Emily Howie

Emily Howie has worked with the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) since 2009 protecting human rights in Australian foreign policy, defending democratic freedoms such as the right to vote as well as anti-racism and minority rights issues.  She also works on accountability for Australia’s actions overseas such as border protection measures and military cooperation, including Australia’s involvement in the US drone program.

Portrait of Kenneth Roth

Kenneth Roth

Kenneth Roth is the executive director of Human Rights Watch, one of the world's leading international human rights organisations, which operates in more than 90 countries. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch in 1987, Roth served as a federal prosecutor in New York and for the Iran-Contra investigation in Washington, DC. A graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University, Roth has conducted numerous human rights investigations and missions around the world. He has written extensively on a wide range of human rights abuses, devoting special attention to issues of international justice, counterterrorism, the foreign policies of the major powers, and the work of the United Nations.

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