Careers and Internships at PHR | Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Researcher

Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Researcher

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which shared in the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, is a U.S.-based international advocacy organization working at the intersection of medicine, science, and law. With a global network of thousands of medical, scientific, and legal experts, PHR uses the power of medical and scientific evidence to document human rights and humanitarian law violations and prevent abuses, protect survivors, and promote justice and universal human rights for all.

Building upon its highly respected place in the field, and supported by a committed and talented team, PHR seeks a MENA researcher to join the New York team.

Work Authorization: Applicants must be authorized to work in the United States.

Location: Headquarters, New York, NY 

Reports to: Director of research and investigations

Organizational Overview

Physicians for Human Rights was founded in 1986 by five physicians who were united in the belief that health professionals, with their specialized skills, ethical duties, and credible voices, are uniquely positioned to prevent harm and promote respect for human rights. Since its founding, PHR has built a long and distinguished record of accomplishment by conducting groundbreaking investigations and advocacy, in concert with strategic partners.

PHR’s approach includes extensive documentation of the use of illegal and inhumane weapons in armed conflicts, attacks on civilians, and the physical and psychological impacts of torture and sexual violence as a weapon of war. Other core activities include protecting the rights of those seeking asylum in the United States, the human rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, and halting attacks on medical facilities and frontline health professionals.

With its dedicated staff of approximately 50 people, dozens of interns, consultants, and thousands of volunteer experts, Physicians for Human Rights:

  • Produces evidence about human rights violations based on medical science, research, investigations, and forensic documentation that supports prosecution of perpetrators in local, regional, and international justice settings;
  • Trains and supports medical, law enforcement, legal, and justice professionals in conflict and post-conflict regions to document torture, sexual violence, and other violations so that there is an evidentiary foundation for prevention, protection, justice, and redress for these crimes;
  • Works with medical associations and individuals to reinforce the highest standards of medical ethics and uphold their professional obligation to “do no harm”;
  • Defends medical professionals when they are harassed, attacked, or jailed by authorities for carrying out their professional obligations;
  • Corroborates the human rights abuse claims of people fleeing government-sanctioned persecution and torture through a network of more than 2,000 medical professionals who conduct physical and psychological examinations of U.S. asylum seekers; and
  • Advocates for human rights policy reforms globally and for robust responses to rights violations from local and national governments, regional bodies, and the United Nations.

Role Description

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) seeks an experienced researcher to document and expose health-related violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with a focus on Syria. Reporting to the director of research and investigations, the researcher is a fluent Arabic speaker who will develop a strategy for PHR’s work in the region and conduct research related to a range of violations, including attacks on health care facilities, blocking of humanitarian aid, and the health consequences of conflicts, among other human rights violations. The researcher represents PHR’s MENA work with the media, advocacy targets, and other partners, in coordination with PHR’s advocacy and communications teams. The researcher coordinates the MENA work in close collaboration with the director of research and investigations. 


  • Research, document, and monitor human rights violations through the systematic collection and analysis of Arabic-language open-source research, eyewitness accounts, and other field sources, such as survivors, health workers, medical associations, NGOs, witnesses, journalists, diplomats, officials, and media, among others;
  • Organize and lead fact-finding field missions, including preparing security assessments; travel in the United States, Middle East, and beyond as required for research/advocacy work; 
  • Provide timely, well-substantiated, and objective analysis and expertise on the MENA region internally and externally; 
  • Conceptualize new research projects and produce content on an ongoing basis in consultation with colleagues and external partners;
  • Produce research materials (reports, issue briefs, policy papers, correspondence with governmental and inter-governmental agencies, etc) and communications content (press releases, briefing papers, opinion pieces, blogs, etc) based on research findings;
  • Represent PHR and liaise with external audiences, including the media, human rights groups, medical professional associations, intergovernmental organizations, and other advocacy targets in public/private for a;
  • Work closely with the advocacy and communications departments to develop and implement impact-driven strategies that bring about meaningful change in policies, laws, and practices; work with the development and finance departments to provide subject matter input into grant proposals and manage and track programmatic deliverables and expenditures, among other tasks;
  • Collaborate closely with other PHR research staff in analyzing trends in data and support the research and investigations director in coordinating the work of the MENA team, with a view to streamlining research output, ensuring methodological adherence, and maintaining the integrity of a database containing sensitive human rights data;
  • Coordinate the training and supervision of research interns (including research review) and facilitate the hiring and managing of independent contractors when needed; assist with other research and programmatic support as needed; and
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills with strong attention to detail;
  • Strong organizational and analytical skills, with the ability to proactively identify and resolve problems in a timely manner;
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality and exercise good judgment and discretion at all times;
  • Ability to prioritize and work under deadlines;
  • Ability to work both independently and as a member of a team; and
  • Interest in human rights desirable.

Qualifications of the Ideal Candidate

  • Bachelor’s degree required;
  • Graduate degree in medicine, law, international relations, regional studies, journalism, or social sciences a plus;  
  • Excellent analytical, writing, and verbal skills in English;
  • Fluency in spoken Arabic required; fluent written Arabic strongly preferred;
  • Minimum four years of research/writing experience, ideally related to human rights and humanitarian issues in the MENA region; prior experience with Syria strongly preferred;      
  • Demonstrated ability to think strategically about how research and investigations can change policies, laws, and practices;
  • Media/public speaking skills; ability to convey human rights issues to many audiences;
  • Outstanding organizational skills, attention to detail, and follow-through; 
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, creativity, resourcefulness, flexibility, sound judgement; 
  • Passion for PHR’s mission and experience working collaboratively, effectively, and professionally under pressure with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds/experiences;
  • Expertise in health and human rights and experience working with medical and scientific communities preferred;
  • Prior work with graphic and sensitive human rights material (testimonies, images, videos) preferred; and  
  • Experience directly or indirectly supervising staff preferred.

Salary and Benefits

This is a full-time position located in New York City and is an in-office-based role (not remote). Salary is commensurate with experience. PHR offers comprehensive employer-paid benefits, including medical, dental, disability, and life insurance, a retirement savings plan, and generous vacation.

How to Apply

Please email cover letter and resume to Please include the job title of the position you are applying for in the subject line of your email and where you saw this job posting in the email body.

Physicians for Human Rights is an equal opportunity employer. We recruit and hire without regard to race, national origin, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, prior conviction, arrest history, disability, marital status, veteran status, or age.