Leonard Rubenstein, JD, LLM

Professor of the Practice


615 N Wolfe St.
Baltimore, MD 21205
  • Core Faculty
    Berman Institute of Bioethics
  • Director, Program on Human Rights, Health and Conflict
    Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Public Health and Human Rights
  • Core Faculty
    Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health

Leonard Rubenstein is a lawyer whose work focuses on health and human rights, especially the protection of health in armed conflict and the roles of health professionals in human rights. A core member of the Berman Institute of Bioethics, he has a joint appointment in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where he is Director of the Program on Human Rights, Health and Conflict at the Center for Public Health and Human Rights. and a core faculty member of the Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health.

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.

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He has engaged in extensive research and writing on human rights, health and national security and armed conflict. His current work focuses on health services in volatile environments. He founded and chairs the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, a group of humanitarian, human rights, health provider organizations working at the global and national levels, that seeks to reduce attacks on and interference with health workers, patients, facilities and transports.   He is a member of the Lancet Commission on Migration and Health and the editorial board of Military and Humanitarian Ethics of the International Committee of Military Medicine.His writings have appeared in professional journals and in op-eds in major media such as the New York Times and Washington Post

Mr. Rubenstein is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Board of Directors of the Global Health Council. He has served on the Governing Council of the American Public Health Association and the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has served as Chair of the Health and Peacebuilding Working Group at the United States Institute of Peace.  He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Congressional Minority Caucuses’ Healthcare Hero Award, the Sidel-Levy Award for Peace of the American Public Health Association, and the Syrian American Medical Association recognition award.

Research Interests

  • Health and human rights
  • Violence against health care in armed conflict
  • Medical ethics, human rights, and national security



  • B.A., Wesleyan University
  • J.D., Harvard University
  • L.L.M, Georgetown University Law Center

Recent Publications

Rubenstein LS, Punishing Health Care Providers for Treating Terrorists, Hastings Center Report, 2015.

Rubenstein, LS, Allen, SA, Guze, PA. Advancing Medical Professionalism in US Military Detainee Treatment,PLOS Medicine 2016.

Rubenstein, LS, Amon JJ, McLemore M, Eba P, Dolan K, Lines R, Beyrer, C. HIV, Prisoners and Human Rights. The Lancet 2016: 1202-1214

Rubenstein L. Transforming the WHO’s Role in Advancing the Right to Health in Conflict. Global Health Governance2018: 13:11-16.

Haar R, Risko C,  Singh  S, Rayes D, AlbaikA, Alnajar M, Kewara M, ClouseE, BakerE.. Rubenstein L. Determining the Scope of Attacks on Health in Four Governates of Syria in 2016;  Results of a Field Surveillance Program.  PLOS Medicine 2018.

Footer, KHA, Clouse E,  Rayes D, Sahloul Z, Rubenstein LS Qualitative accounts from Syrian health professionals regarding violations of the right to health, including the use of chemical weapons, in opposition-held Syria.BMJ Open 2018.