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Rita Siemion

Director, National Security Advocacy

As Director of National Security Advocacy 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

July 01, 2019
This post was originally published on the American Constitution Society Expert Forum. Amid escalating tensions with Iran in June, President Trump told the press that...
May 21, 2019
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today applauded the House Appropriations Committee for adopting an amendment to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to repeal the 2001 Authorization...
May 02, 2019
Washington, D.C.—In response to yesterday’s submission by the Department of Defense of its annual report on civilian casualties, Human Rights First’s Rita Siemion released the following statement...
March 06, 2019
Washington, D.C.—In response to President Trump's revocation of an important reporting requirement on lethal strikes today, Human Right First's Rita Siemion issued the following statement:...