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Robert L. Bernstein

Robert L. Bernstein is an U.S. publisher and human rights activist.

The Yale Law School said:

  • He has devoted his life to the active defense of freedom of expression and to the protection of victims of injustice and abuse throughout the world. As one of the most influential voices in American publishing for over three decades, he is also a dominant force in the development of the international human rights movement.[1]

Career in PublishingModifica

Bernstein started as an office boy at Simon & Schuster in 1946, moved to Random House in 1956 and succeeded Bennett Cerf as President and CEO in 1966. He served as the President of Random House for 25 years. He published many great American authors, including William Faulkner, James Michener, Dr. Seuss, Toni Morrison and William Styron.

After being invited to the Soviet Union as part of a delegation from the Association of American Publishers, he became interested in writers whose work could not be published in their own countries. Beginning with Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner, he ensured that authors like Václav Havel, Jacobo Timerman and Wei Jingsheng were all published around the world.

Involvement in Human Rights MovementModifica

After his experience in Moscow in 1973, Bernstein returned to the U.S. and established the Fund for Free Expression, the parent organization of Helsinki Watch which later became Human Rights Watch. Bernstein served as the Founding Chair of Human Rights Watch until 1990 and thereafter as the Founding Chair Emeritus. Today, Human Rights Watch has a staff of nearly two hundred and covers some 70 countries. With offices in a dozen places, Human Rights Watch is renowned for advocacy on a broad range of issues, including women’s rights, children’s rights, international justice, the human rights responsibilities of corporations, refugees, arms transfers and free expression everywhere. He is also Chair Emeritus of the largest Chinese human rights organization, Human Rights in China, with offices in New York, Hong Kong and Brussels.

In October 2009 Bernstein wrote an OpEd for the New York Times criticizing Human Rights Watch for what he considered its unfair treatment of Israel. He argued that the organization he founded had "lost its critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields." He also noted the fact that Israel is the only free state in the area, and despite that, it is the one the organisation attacks the most.[2]

International RecognitionModifica

Bernstein has won numerous awards and honorary degrees, including the Florina Lasker Award from the New York Civil Liberties Union; the Human Rights Award from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights; the Spirit of Liberty Award from People for the American Way; the Barnard Medal of Distinction from Barnard College; the Curtis Benjamin Award for Distinguished Publishing from the Association of American Publishers; and, in 1998, the United States’ first Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award, which was presented by President Bill Clinton.

At Yale, Bernstein has been honored by friends and colleagues with the establishment of the Robert L. Bernstein Fellowships in International Human Rights at Yale Law School.[3] The fellowships are awarded annually to two or three Law School graduates devoted to advancing human rights protection around the world. Bernstein has lectured at Yale and served as a Gordon Grand fellow. Bernstein was also honored by New York University School of Law, which established the Robert L. Bernstein Fellowship in International Human Rights in 2006, annually providing an opportunity for a recent School of Law graduate to engage in full-time human rights work at Human Rights in China.[4]

He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from Swarthmore College, The New School, Bard College, Hofstra University, Bates College, Tougaloo College, and Yale University. He holds a B.S. degree from Harvard.

References Modifica

  1. Yale Law School, Biography of Robert L. Bernstein
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/opinion/20bernstein.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper
  3. Yale Law School, Bernstein Fellowship
  4. Human Rights in China, Robert L. Bernstein Fellowship in International Human Rights. [1]



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