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Leonard S. Rubenstein, JD

Director, Program on Human Rights, Health and Conflict, Center for Public Health and Human Rights

Senior Scientist

Departmental Affiliation(s):


Center & Institute Affiliation(s):

Contact Information

615 N. Wolfe Street, Suite E7148
Baltimore , Maryland   21205

(443) 287-8749
(410) 614-8371


JD , Harvard Law School , 1975
LLM , Georgetown University Law Center


Leonard Rubenstein is a lawyer who has spent his career in human rights, and now focuses particularly on health and human rights, especially the protection of health in armed conflict,  and the roles of health professionals in human rights. At Johns Hopkins he is a member of the core faculty of the Center for Public Health and Human Rights and affiliated with the Center for a Livable Future at the Bloomberg School, and is Associate Faculty of the Berman Institute of Bioethics. He serves as Chair of the Health and Peacebuilding Working Group at the United States Institute of Peace. Prior to coming to Johns Hopkins he served as Executive Director and then President of Physicians for Human Rights, as a Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, and as Executive Director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. 

Mr. Rubenstein’s current work includes advancing protection of health facilities, patients, and health workers in situations of conflict, developing a screening tool to identify survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in refugee settings, and identifying sound policy approaches to health systems reconstruction or strengthening in fragile states. In the realm of health professionals and human rights, Mr. Rubenstein led an International Working Group on Dual Loyalty and Human Rights, has investigated the role of U.S. health professionals in torture by military and intelligence agencies, and co-leads a task force to recommend changes in U.S. practice. He also conducts legal and human rights research regarding health impacts of industrialized animal food production. Mr. Rubenstein is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility and serves on the board of directors of the International Federation of Health and Human Rights Organizations.

Honors and Awards

2006 Physicians Forum Edward K. Barsky Award for a quarter century of courageous and effective advocacy for human rights throughout the world.

2005 United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, Louis B. Sohn Award for extraordinary service on behalf of human rights.

2005 Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project Outstanding Achievement Award.

2003 Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Asian and Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Native American Caucus. Health Care Hero Award.

1996 National Mental Health Association Mission Award.

1994 City of Alexandria, Virginia, Disability Advocate of the Year.

1989 State of Virginia Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuses Services Board Award for Excellence in Community Service.

1970 Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Wesleyan University.

Organization Award to Physicians for Human Rights, 1997 Co-recipient of Nobel Peace Prize as member of International Steering Committee, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, 1997.

Human rights, right to health, dual loyalty, medical neutrality, armed conflict, post-conflict reconstruction, torture

  • Mateen FJ, Rubenstein LS. Government policies in violation of human rights as a barrier to professionalism..JAMA. 2011 Aug 3;306(5):541-2.

  • Rubenstein, LS.  Post-conflict health reconstruction: search for a policy. Disasters. 2011 Mar 4. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7717.2011.01237

  • London, LL, Rubenstein, LS, Baldwin-Ragavan, L. The problem of Dual Loyalty and Role Conflict in Public Health, in Rights Based Approaches to Health, ed. E. Beracochea, D. Evans and C. Weinstein, Springer, 2010.

  • Rubenstein, LS and Xenakis, SN Roles of CIA Physicians in Enhanced Interrogation and Torture of Detainees, JAMA 2010; 304:569-70

  • Rubenstein, LS and Xenakis, LS, Doctors without Morals op-ed, New York Times, March 1, 2010.