“We Target the World's Worst Crimes”: Creating Symbols of Justice in Human Rights Watch's Annual Report 2012
Through an interdisciplinary methodology that brings a critical analysis of the Report’s rhetoric into dialogue with interviews with HRW report writers, this paper examines how the Report creates a narrative in which HRW symbolises an effective response to human rights violations. The Report employs a human rights aesthetic to create visual and textual symbols that denote the work of justice in a legalised, global form. Framing the organisation as part of an international justice movement, the Report positions HRW as exemplary within that movement, an actor who has proven to be indispensible in bringing about justice through its research into, and witnessing of, rights violations. My analysis will demonstrate how the Report’s creation of a symbolic lexicon of justice is co-constitutive with HRW’s own self-representation, a self-fashioning that produces the organization as an ideal NGO within the international human rights regime.