Why the U.S.?
“After 200 years...she's still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom...”
— Ronald Reagan
“We sit on a conspicuous stage...we are going to hold the imagination of the world.”
— John F. Kennedy
“America did not invent human rights... human rights invented America.”
— Jimmy Carter
America was founded on core ideals we all share.
Justice Optimism Freedom Independence Democracy Equality Courage
start scrolling
Throughout our history, these ideals have been tested, time and time again.
But America was defined in the moments when our leaders held fast to these ideals.

Even when it was


Even when it was


At these moments,

they looked beyond political parties,

rallied support from across the country,

rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

At these moments, our leaders stood for our ideals and

championed human rights around the world.

This is American leadership at its best.

And every generation must hold our leaders to this shared commitment.

Human Rights First holds American leaders to our values by building bipartisan coalitions, seeking unlikely allies, and offering pragmatic solutions to pressing human rights challenges. We believe our leaders want to do what's right, but they can't do it without us. Learn more about who we are.

+ + +
Start from Top

General David M. Maddox, USA (Ret.)

Member of Human Rights First's Coalition of Retired Generals and Admirals

"If anyone had said to me you're gonna get involved with a human rights organization, I would have laughed. But I got asked what my view was about torture and the treatment of prisoners and if I supported any of the [2008] presidential candidates. I said no. They said good, if you said yes, you're not invited."

Play Video

Eileen Donahoe

Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council

"As an intern for Human Rights First, I had a chance to work on a project on how human rights should be the foundation for American foreign policy. As it turns out, I've come full circle in this opportunity to be U.S. Ambassador the U.N. Human Rights Council where my responsibility was to be an advocate for human rights and U.S. principles."

Play Video

Jennifer S. Geetter

Partner, McDermott Will & Emery LLP

"Asylum seekers stood up for ideals we take for granted—for justice, freedom, belief—and they've paid an incredible price for it. It's our opportunity as Americans to welcome them in a new adopted home."

Play Video