Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organization, headquartered in New York City, that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. The group pressures governments, policy makers and human rights abusers to denounce abuse and respect human rights, and the group often works on behalf of refugees, children, migrants and political prisoners. Human Rights Watch in 1997 shared in the Nobel Peace Prize as a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and it played a leading role in the 2008 treaty banning cluster munitions. The organization's annual expenses totaled $50.6 million in 2011 and $69.2 million in 2014,and $75.5 million in 2017. Human Rights Watch was co-founded by Robert L. Bernstein and Aryeh Neier as a private American NGO in 1978, under the name Helsinki Watch, to monitor the then-Soviet Union's compliance with the Helsinki Accords. Helsinki Watch adopted a practice of publicly "naming and shaming" abusive governments through media coverage and through direct exchanges with policymakers. By shining the international spotlight on human rights violations in the Soviet Union and its European partners, Helsinki Watch says it contributed to the democratic transformations of the region in the late 1980s. Americas Watch was founded in 1981 while bloody civil wars engulfed Central America. Relying on extensive on-the-ground fact-finding, Americas Watch not only addressed perceived abuses by government forces but also applied international humanitarian law to investigate and expose war crimes by rebel groups. In addition to raising its concerns in the affected countries, Americas Watch also examined the role played by foreign governments, particularly the United States government, in providing military and political support to abusive regimes. Asia Watch (1985), Africa Watch (1988), and Middle East Watch (1989) were added to what was known as "The Watch Committees". In 1988, all of these committees were united under one umbrella to form Human Rights Watch.