Skip to Main Content
Printer Friendly Home > About

About PHR

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations against individuals. We use our investigations and expertise to advocate for the:

  • Prevention of individual or small scale acts of violence from becoming mass atrocities
  • Protection of internationally-guaranteed rights of individuals and civilian populations
  • Prosecution of those who violate human rights

PHR was founded in 1986 on the idea that health professionals, with their specialized skills, ethical duties, and credible voices, are uniquely positioned to stop human rights violations. Today, our expertise is sought by local human rights organizations, governments, the United Nations, international courts, and regional groups like the African Union and the European Union. The power of our investigations allows us to work with others to raise awareness and press for change on the most severe human rights violations of the day.  

PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing evidence for
              prosecution of war criminals
1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for
              International Criminal Tribunals
1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and during
              the invasion of Iraq
2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international
              prosecutions
2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services 
              in times of armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of
              the Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in 
              sexual violence cases
2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt,
              our mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

PHR is based in New York City and maintains a policy office in Washington, DC and a programmatic office in Boston. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.