Materials include correspondence and e-mail communications, professional and personal field notes, testimonies and interviews, material on research methodology, addresses and contact lists, confidential interoffice memos, legal and advocacy material, internal planning and policy material, declassified government and United Nations documents, published and unpublished human rights reports from individuals and fellow non-governmental organizations (NGOs), press clippings and news releases, as well as regional maps, posters and audiovisual material. Another category of documents consists of HRW reports and briefing papers, as well as press releases and open letters to heads of state, governments and various government agencies.
Materials related to missions contain unpublished information on sources, cases, and the state of affairs in various countries. They include professional and personal mission notes taken by country researchers during investigative field trips, testimonies by and interviews with victims of various human rights abuses, pre-mission and post-mission memos, material on research methodology, correspondence and e-mail communications, addresses and contact lists, as well as photographic records.
Regionally and thematically, these documents cover human rights events in the past quarter of a century. The material in the Helsinki Watch files is substantive in dissidents and opposition movements in the former Soviet Union and its satellites. The other Watches and thematic divisions contain extensive and detailed files on civil wars and conflicts in El Salvador, Guatemala, Argentina, Chile; on the Cambodian genocide, on the human rights record of Burma, China, North Korea, and Kashmir; on South Africa, Liberia, Nigeria, etc., the democratic transitions in various African countries, and the Rwandan genocide; on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Iraq; on the International Justice Program and the campaign for establishing the International Criminal Court; on the international coalition to ban land mines, ending the use of child soldiers; on women's and children's rights, campaigns to promote freedom of expression and academic freedom, and the prison project.