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Suzanne Nossel

Affiliated Scholar

Suzanne Nossel is the executive director of Amnesty International USA. Before joining Amnesty in January 2012, she served as deputy assistant secretary for International Organizations at the U.S. Department of State, where she was responsible for multilateral human rights, humanitarian affairs, women’s issues, public diplomacy, press, and congressional relations. At the State Department, Nossel played a leading role in U.S. engagement at the U.N. Human Rights Council, including the initiation of groundbreaking human rights resolutions on Iran, Syria, Libya, Cote d’Ivoire, freedom of association, freedom of expression, and the first U.N. resolution on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.

Prior to that, Nossel served as chief operating officer for Human Rights Watch, where she was responsible for organizational management and spearheaded a strategic plan for the global expansion of the organization. During the Clinton administration she served as deputy to the ambassador for U.N. Management and Reform at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, where she was the lead U.S. representative to the U.N. General Assembly negotiating a deal to settle the U.S. arrears to the world body. During the early 1990s Nossel worked in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the implementation of South Africa’s National Peace Accord, a multiparty agreement aimed at curbing political violence during that country’s transition to democracy; she has also done election monitoring and human rights documentation in Bosnia and Kosovo. Nossel is the author of a 2004 article in Foreign Affairs magazine entitled "Smart Power" and coined the term that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made a defining feature of U.S. foreign policy.

In the private sector, she has served as vice-president of U.S. Business Development at Bertelsmann Media Worldwide, vice-president of strategy and operations for the Wall Street Journal and a media and entertainment consultant at McKinsey & Company, where she helped build the firm’s practice in online and digital media.

Nossel is also an accomplished author who has published hundreds of blog entries, op-ed pieces and numerous scholarly articles. She is the author of Presumed Equal: What America’s Top Women Lawyers Really Think About Their Firms (Career Press, 1998), the founder of the blog www.democracyarsenal.org, and has served as a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, the Center for American Progress and the Council on Foreign Relations. Nossel is a regular contributor and commentator on human rights issues for major news outlets including CNN, MSNBC, and NPR.