Over several decades of high level involvement in the field of international human rights, David Hawk has acquired expertise in the documentation and analysis of worst case violations, the UN human rights system, human rights provisions in conflict resolution, non-governmental human rights advocacy, human rights organization and agency management, and human rights education and training. David Hawk is recognized as a leading expert human rights in a number of countries, most notably Cambodia and North Korea.
Attended college at Cornell University. Studied social ethics at Union Theological Seminary (in New York City) and international affairs at Magdalen College, Oxford University. An International Affairs Fellow at the graduate School of Public and International Affairs at Columbia, David has long affiliation with the University Seminar on Human Rights at Columbia. (He is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Columbia University Institute for the Study of Human Rights, and an adjunct lecturer at Hunter College, City University of New York.)
While in college and graduate school in the 1960s Hawk began human rights work in voter registration, community organizing and civil rights efforts in Mississippi and Georgia. His interest in East Asia began with the escalation of the war in Vietnam while he was in college and graduate school. Hawk was the Executive Director of Amnesty International, USA during its formative stage in the 1970s. He also directed the UN human rights office, during the mid-1990s when it was the largest field operation of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In the early 1980s Hawk did path-breaking original photographic and archival documentation of the human rights atrocities in Cambodia under Khmer Rouge rule, and researched and authored the first systematic and comprehensive documentation and analysis of the political prison camp system in North Korea. He has served on the Board of Directors of AIUSA and Human Rights Watch/Asia.