As director of programs, Karen Naimer manages all program staff and oversees all strategic initiatives within PHR’s program division, including the Asylum Program, the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, and PHR’s responses to torture, mass atrocities, excessive force, attacks on health care, and COVID, among other areas. She also oversees all projects pertaining to research and investigations, capacity development and training, advocacy, digital tools and technologies, and the development of new standards and best practices for survivor-centered, trauma-informed forensic evidence collection, documentation, and preservation to support accountability processes. Naimer’s teams include medical, law enforcement, and legal colleagues based in the United States, East and Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and Europe. Prior to her current role, Naimer was the founding director of PHR’s internationally recognized Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, and served in that role for 10 years.
Naimer has extensive experience in international criminal law, international humanitarian law, and human rights law. Before joining PHR, Naimer taught public international law at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, and she consulted to the Brandeis Institute for International Judges. In 2007-2008, Naimer held the Edmond J. Safra Faculty Fellowship at Harvard University’s Center for Ethics. She has authored or co-authored numerous articles in peer-reviewed medical and legal publications. As an outspoken voice on sexual violence and international justice, she is frequently called upon by the media and has been cited in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, PBS NewsHour, the BBC, NPR’s All Things Considered, Foreign Policy, PLOS One, the British Medical Journal, and the Lancet.
Previously, Naimer served as deputy counsel at the Independent Inquiry Committee into the United Nations Oil-For-Food Programme, where she investigated widespread corruption among the most senior UN personnel and Security Council member states. Prior to that, she worked for the Office of the President at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, where she researched cases of mass atrocities in the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
Naimer was an associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York, and has worked on cases of violence against women at the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic in Toronto, Canada and at the New York Asian Women’s Center.
A Canadian lawyer, Naimer holds a BA from McGill University, an MA in international relations from the University of Toronto, a JD from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and an LLM in international legal studies from New York University School of Law. She is a Truman National Security Fellow.