(New York) – Neil Rimer, a Human Rights Watch board member since 2009, is joining Amy Rao as co-chair of the organization’s international board of directors. Rao, a tech entrepreneur, took on this role in October 2019, succeeding former co-chairs Hassan Elmasry and Robert Kissane.
Rimer steps into this leadership role as Human Rights Watch tackles the considerable human rights issues around the coronavirus pandemic and related global economic downturn. At the same time, Human Rights Watch continues its efforts to address the challenges posed by authoritarian populist leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose government threatens human rights worldwide, the climate crisis, wartime atrocities, and the record 65 million people displaced from their homes.
Rimer, who was born in Montreal, co-founded the venture capital firm Index Ventures. He has three children and lives with his wife in Geneva. He is particularly concerned by the human rights threats and opportunities of technological advances, including the use of sensors, artificial intelligence, and big data.
“Human Rights Watch seeks to ensure that tools from the technological revolution are deployed appropriately to confront the coronavirus crisis – or confront those who use those tools in an abusive manner, as the Chinese government is doing,” Rimer said. “We are showing governments that to advance public health effectively, digital surveillance tools need to guard against discrimination, overreach, and invasions of our privacy.”
Rao and Rimer said a priority for Human Rights Watch will be to ensure the organization’s ongoing efforts to investigate and expose human rights abuses are not hindered by the economic slowdown engendered by the current pandemic.
“We are thrilled to welcome Neil to lead our board alongside Amy,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Their thoughtful dynamism brings the skills and energy that Human Rights Watch needs to remain effective in meeting the considerable challenges facing us today.”