Physicians for Human Rights to be awarded with the Dodd Prize

A photo of the Dodd Research Center, where the Physicians for Human Rights were nominated for their award. (Ashley Maher/The Daily Campus)

Physicians for Human Rights will be awarded the Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human rights on Nov. 2, according to the University of Connecticut’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

“They are absolutely one of the most courageous human rights organizations out there,” Dodd Research Center Director Glenn Mitoma said. “They work with doctors on the front lines in conflict situations,”  

Physicians for Human Rights has had a profound role in using their expertise in medicinal and scientific fields to bringing to light the severity of various atrocities and crimes against humanity. Furthermore, they help to train medical personal in regions of ongoing conflicts. Since their founding in 1986, they have been involved in work in a number of different regions around the world such as in Bosnia, Syria and the Congo.

“On behalf of Physicians for Human Right’s partners, staff and volunteers worldwide, we are honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” PHR Executive Director Donna McKay said. “This prize will serve as a catalyst for our work, a spark that will energize us to expand the network of health professionals and human rights advocates globally that are fighting for a more just, more humane world.”

PHR is also a co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in advocating against the usage of landmines.  The International Mine Ban Treaty was ultimately created with the help of their involvement.

“They are a voice of conscious in the human rights world,” Mitoma said. “For instance, when the United States began engaging in torture they were among the first to speak out against it, and to organize physicians to oppose it. It wasn't necessarily the popular thing to do, and it demonstrated some real courage and leadership.”  

The Dodd Prize is awarded once every two years, and the primary criteria used to select a recipient is an individual or group’s contributions to universal justice and human rights.

The decision to award PHR was particularly relevant to UConn’s current research program. The relation between medical professionals and human rights is a central focus of the “Global Health and Human Rights” research program. This program in particular features strong collaboration between the School of Pharmacy, Nursing and the School of Medicine.

The recipient of the Dodd Prize is based on the recommendations of an advisory committee, which evaluates organizations and groups deserving the award. The committee’s recommendations then advance to the Dodd Center National Advisory Board. The final recommendation is then received by UConn’s president, who decides whether to approve it.

“From the committee to the board to Susan Herbst, we all agreed that PHR was our choice,” Mitoma said.


Fatir Qureshi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at fatir.qureshi@uconn.edu.