Ida Sawyer

Ida Sawyer

Director, Crisis, Conflict and Arms Division
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Ida Sawyer is the director of the Crisis, Conflict and Arms Division at Human Rights Watch, where she oversees a team of about 15 researchers who document war crimes and other serious human rights abuses during armed conflicts and crises around the world, and who advocate for justice and accountability, civilian protection, and humanitarian disarmament. Ida has led work in recent years on Haiti, Israel and Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, the United States, and elsewhere. 

Ida  began working with Human Rights Watch in 2008 as a researcher in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she was based for nearly nine years, until the former president forced her to leave the country because of her work on political repression. Ida was later the organization’s Central Africa Director and Deputy Africa Director, overseeing the organization’s work across much of sub-Saharan Africa. 

Ida has authored numerous Human Rights Watch reports and other documents, testified at the UN Security Council and at US Congressional hearings, presented at the European Parliament, and written for publications including The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and Foreign Policy. Ida conducts high-level advocacy with a range of international actors and works closely with national and international human rights groups.

During a sabbatical in 2021, Ida was a Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, DC, focused on pro-democracy efforts in Congo. Ida previously worked as a freelance journalist in Cairo and with CARE International in northern Uganda. She earned her bachelor’s degree and a master’s in international affairs, specializing in human rights, from Columbia University.

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