Susannah Sirkin is director of policy and a senior advisor at Physicians for Human Rights, where she has worked since 1987. She oversees PHR’s policy engagement, including with the United Nations, domestic and international justice systems, and human rights coalitions.
Sirkin has organized health and human rights investigations in dozens of countries. These include the documentation of genocide and systematic rape in Darfur, Sudan; exhumations of mass graves in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda for the International Criminal Tribunals; and documentation of Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s.
Sirkin has played a lead role in PHR’s extensive documentation of attacks on health care facilities and personnel in conflict zones, including Syria and Yemen. In July 2019, she addressed the United Nations Security Council on the Syrian and Russian forces’ deliberate, inhumane, and illegal strategy of bombing hospitals.
Sirkin initiated PHR’s program to train doctors, lawyers, law enforcement officers, and judges to respond to sexual violence in conflict zones, initially working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, and Kenya. She has authored and edited numerous reports and articles on the medical consequences of human rights violations, physical evidence of human rights abuses, and physician complicity in violations.
Sirkin represents PHR as a member of the Steering Committee for the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition and served as PHR’s representative from 1992 to 2001 as a member of the Coordination Committee of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, the co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Peace. From 2017 to 2019, Sirkin was a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is a recipient of Tufts University’s Jean Meyer Global Citizenship Award.
Sirkin holds a BA in European studies from Mount Holyoke College and an MEd from Boston University.