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Rita Siemion

International Legal Counsel

As International Legal Counsel at Human Rights First, Rita Siemion advocates for national security and counterterrorism policies that respect human rights and the rule of law. She is an expert in the intersecting legal frameworks that govern counterterrorism operations at home and abroad, including the law of armed conflict, international human rights law, and state sovereignty law. She leads the organization’s effort to ensure that US national security policies comply with these bodies of international law as well as with domestic law limitations on the authority to use force and conduct war.

Rita is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center and Associate Adjunct Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law. She teaches courses on covert action, targeted killing, the law of armed conflict, and international human rights law in the national security and counterterrorism context. Before joining Human Rights First, Rita worked on a range of national security issues as Senior Counsel at The Constitution Project, including surveillance and privacy rights in the digital age, and spent several years in private practice litigating civil and human rights matters.

Rita holds an LL.M. in National Security Law, with a certificate in International Human Rights Law, from the Georgetown University Law Center, where she graduated with distinction and was a peer review editor for the Journal of National Security Law & Policy.  Rita received her J.D., with honors, from the George Washington University School of Law, where she has also taught as an Adjunct Professor of Legal Research and Writing.  While in law school, she co-founded the Human Rights Law Society, worked on targeted killing and extraordinary rendition litigation with the International Human Rights Clinic, and studied human rights and counterterrorism at Oxford University.  She has a B.A. in English, with a minor in Philosophy, from Seattle University, where she graduated from the Honors Program.

Featured Work

August 13, 2018
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today applauded two new measures in the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act that will enhance national security by strengthening...
June 01, 2018
Washington, D.C.—In response to today’s report submitted to Congress by the Department of Defense on civilian casualties, Human Rights First’s Rita Siemion issued the following statement: "The...
May 23, 2018
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today praised the proposal from Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) for a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that is tailored to current conflicts,...
May 16, 2018
Washington, D.C.—In testimony today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Human Rights First’s Rita Siemion urged senators to only enact a new authorization for use of military...