© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Kenneth Roth, govt director of Human Rights Watch, poses after an interview with Reuters in Geneva, Switzerland, January 12, 2021. Image taken January 12, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse//File Picture
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The celebrated Kennedy Faculty at Harvard College stated on Thursday it has reversed a choice to not award a fellowship to the previous head of Human Rights Watch (HRW) after coming beneath hearth earlier this month over the transfer.
The varsity’s Carr Middle for Human Rights Coverage final 12 months approached Kenneth Roth, who served as HRW’s govt director from 1993 to 2022, and agreed on the phrases of a fellowship, in response to each Roth and the Carr Middle. The fellowship was topic to approval by Kennedy Faculty Dean Douglas Elmendorf.
Kathryn Sikkink, a human rights educational on the Kennedy Faculty, informed The Nation journal earlier this month that Elmendorf informed her he rejected the appointment due to what he known as HRW’s “anti-Israel bias.”
In an e-mail to the group on Thursday, shared by a Harvard Kennedy Faculty spokesperson, Elmendorf stated he believed he had made an error.
“Within the case of Mr. Roth, I now consider that I made an error in my determination to not appoint him as a Fellow at our Carr Middle for Human Rights… We’ll prolong a proposal to Mr. Roth to function a Fellow. I hope that our group will be capable to profit from his deep expertise in a variety of human rights points,” Elmendorf stated.
The choice to not award a fellowship to Roth, first reported by The Nation, drew criticism from some alumni, the American Civil Liberties Union and HRW itself. Freedom of expression advocacy group PEN America stated the choice “raises critical questions concerning the credibility of the Harvard program itself.”
Elmendorf within the e-mail stated his earlier determination to not award the fellowship had not been influenced by donors or “made to restrict debate on the Kennedy Faculty about human rights in any nation.”
Roth didn’t instantly reply to a Reuters request for touch upon Thursday.
Final week, he informed Reuters he believed the choice had been made to keep away from upsetting rich donors to the college who assist Israel, and known as on the Kennedy Faculty to “reaffirm its dedication to educational freedom.”
Some pro-Israel teams, together with outstanding Jewish organizations in america just like the American Jewish Committee, have stated HRW and different rights teams have proven bias towards Israel of their reporting, specifically by labeling the remedy of Palestinians and the decades-long Israeli army occupation of the West Financial institution as “apartheid,” as HRW did in 2021.