PHR Brings Medical Expertise and New Research to UN Human Rights Council

Starting this week, a delegation from Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is in Geneva for the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Through oral interventions and side events, PHR and our medical experts are presenting new evidence on human rights abuses and advocating for the protection of fundamental human rights.  

Alongside the formal HRC sessions, PHR is convening side events on three urgent human rights crises. New PHR research in each of the following areas will be presented and discussed:

  • Dr. Shaza Elmahdi, PHR partner and a founder of the Sudanese American Physicians Association (SAPA) will discuss the role of the HRC in responding to and preventing attacks against medical infrastructure and personnel in Sudan;
  • Dr. Joseph Shin, PHR partner and co-medical director of Weill Cornell Center for Human Rights will address the health impacts for asylum seekers at the U.S. southern border;
  • The PHR delegation will present new findings on the long-term disabilities suffered by Rohingya survivors of Myanmar’s August 2017 massacre.

PHR’s delegation to the HRC is led by Maryam Al-Khawaja, PHR’s Europe director and interim director of advocacy, and also includes Phelim Kine, director of research and investigations, and Kathryn Hampton, network program officer.


Health Impacts for U.S. Asylum Seekers

Wednesday, June 26, 2019, 10-11 a.m. CEST – Room VIII

Speakers: Dr. Joseph Shin, co-medical director of Weill Cornell Center for Human Rights; co-author of “There is No One Here to Protect You”; Gerry Simpson, associate director in Human Rights Watch, Crisis and Conflict Division); Claudia Gerez Czitrom, UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture; Anne Althaus, International Organization for Migration law officer.

Moderator: Kathryn Hampton, network program officer for Physicians for Human Rights, who coordinates PHR’s Asylum Network of volunteer clinicians.


  • Report: “There is No One here to Protect You – Trauma Among Children Fleeing Violence in Central America”
  • Report: “Not in my Exam Room – How U.S. Immigration Enforcement Is Obstructing Medical Care”

Myanmar: The Long-Term Human Legacy of State-Backed Violence Against Ethnic Minorities

Monday, July 1, 2019, 12-1 p.m. CEST – Room VIII

Co-sponsors: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International

Speakers: Phelim Kine (PHR director of research and investigations); Yanghee Lee, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar; Hilary Power, senior advocate for the Human Rights Council for Amnesty International.


  • Report: “Widespread and Systematic: Violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar”
  • Report:  “Shot While Fleeing – Rohingya Disabled by Myanmar Authorities’ Targeted Violence”
Side event on Myanmar

Responding to Atrocities in Sudan: Role of the Human Rights Council

Monday, July 8, 2019, 1-2 p.m. CESTRoom XXIV

Co-Sponsors: Redress, Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Service for Human Rights, International Federation for Human Rights, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Speakers: Dr. Shaza Elmahdi, expert, PHR, Mr. Nasredeen Abdulbari, academic, author, lawyer, and human rights advocate, others TBC.

Moderator: Laila Matar (deputy UN director, HRW)


  • Report: “Intimidation and Persecution: Sudan’s Attacks on Peaceful Protesters and Physicians”
Side event on Sudan


Read more about PHR’s engagement at the HRC in this recent article by PHR Policy Director Susannah Sirkin in the 2019 World Medical Journal.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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