David Hawk has directed the US Section of Amnesty International and the Cambodia Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In the 1980s, under the auspices of the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia, Hawk documented and analyzed the Khmer Rouge atrocities in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. In 1994 and 1995 Hawk undertook research and advocacy missions to Rwanda for the US Committee on Refugees and Amnesty International, respectively. He has served on the board of directors for AIUSA and Human Rights Watch/Asia. Since 2002, Hawk has concentrated on documenting and analyzing human rights violations in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.
A graduate of Cornell University and Union Theological Seminary, Hawk also did postgraduate work in international affairs and strategic studies at Magdalen College, Oxford. He as been an International Fellow at Columbia's SIPA, and an International Fellow in Human Rights, Justice and International Law, at Brandeis. He is also a residential Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington to assess the application of human rights, governance and transparency standards in the event of large-scale bilateral and multilateral assistance to North Korea.