Who We Are
Human Rights Watch Student Task Force (STF), launched in 1999, is a youth leadership-training program that brings together high school students and educators and empowers them to advocate for human rights issues, especially the rights of children.
What We Do
“I learned so much about the world from STF, to always strive to be a better person, and to uphold my beliefs. I know that in the future, I will fight for human rights both out in the world and in my own community. This experience is something I will never forget, and I look forward to bringing what I’ve learned to the next stage of my life.”
Gowri VadmalSTF Alumni 2020
“Thanks to STF, I became aware of social justice issues and made me realize how essential advocacy is to accomplish and effect changes.”
Chris CapronSTF Alumni 2011
“As a high schooler it is very difficult to feel like you can make a difference. You are old enough to have opinions and motivation to make change, but oftentimes people underestimate your abilities and write your efforts off. This is why STF is so special. STF gives high schoolers the opportunity to really make change.”
Emma DezarnSTF Alumni 2018
“STF helped me find a strength I didn’t know I had in myself to stand as a role model and actively engage the world around me.”
Kanchan Wali-RichardsonSTF Alumni 2008
How We Work
Human Rights Campaigns
STF’s annual human rights campaign coordinate with the HRW Children’s Rights Division and other HRW divisions through the office in Los Angeles. Previous campaigns include the Global Refugee Crisis, End Military Use of Schools, Right to Education, Child Farm Workers and Juvenile Justice Reform. (See past STF human rights campaigns and toolkits.) Our current campaign is Human Rights and the Climate Crisis.
STF members learn about the campaign themes by attending three annual STF workshops, plus weekly chapter meetings. They are then able to “educate to advocate” by hosting guest speakers, film screenings, tabling events, all-school assemblies, faculty and classroom presentations, art exhibits and experience tents. Every campaign features an advocacy strategy. Actions range from raising human rights awareness of public officials and international diplomats to campaigning for human rights policies in classrooms, school districts and City Councils.
Every year, STF works with students and teachers in public and private schools to reach out to over 34,000 students across Southern California. Student members develop leadership skills, learn to defend and protect global human rights and become skilled communicators on behalf of children’s rights.
School chapters establish their own core leadership teams, including a teacher advisor, that work closely with the STF office to learn about human rights, prepare weekly agendas, lead meetings, engage members, plan events and advocacy on campus, work with school faculty, liaise with other STF chapters and reach out beyond their own campus communities.
Launched in 2021, STF’s Ambassadors Program incorporates interested students beyond Southern California and/or who are just getting started on their campus. They engage virtually and receive the same support and resources described in the Traditional Chapters section above. The program connects student leaders from different schools and an STF team member in weekly virtual meetings where they collaborate on ways to implement the STF annual campaign at each campus and engage students and teachers in their advocacy.