Deputy Director, Europe and Central Asia, Human Rights Watch.
“Jim stepped in to research the situation for civilians during the second war in Chechnya, in the Russian Federation. This was during the very early phases of the armed conflict, in 1999, before it received widespread attention, before most human rights groups and foreign journalist were traveling there, at a time when certain aspects of the armed conflict itself were still inchoate. He very quickly and capably mapped out how to get himself and another HRW colleague close to the conflict as safely possible and interview civilians. He established a strong relationship of trust both interviewees and HRW’s Russia-based colleagues. With the civilians he interviewed, he worked with tremendous empathy. He quickly and with great integrity conveyed information, accurately outlining the problems fleeing civilians were facing and constructing from disparate information a cohesive picture of the situation inside Chechnya.
Jim puts the interests and well-being of survivors of human right abuses first and foremost, together with substantive accuracy and integrity. He is a top-rate, deeply skilled investigator with a big heart.”
Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science; former Special Assistant to the Provost; former Dean of the College of Liberal Arts; former Chair of the Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota.
“Jim Ron was my valued colleague at the University of Minnesota. We recruited him for the Harold E. Stassen Chair in International Affairs, a highly prestigious professorship with joint appointment in the Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Department of Political Science.
As Chair of the Political Science Department at the time, I was thrilled that he accepted our offer of the position, because he had emerged as our clear top choice after a thorough and extensive international search in which we considered scores of the best scholars in the field.
He is an outstanding colleague, fully meeting our hopes and expectations for the holder of the Stassen Chair, in exemplifying scholarly commitment to innovative and top-notch research on crucially important topics in global affairs, and leading creative initiatives to translate such cutting-edge scholarship into practical action to enhance human rights worldwide. One of the especially admirable and distinguishing qualities of Jim’s work is his sensitivity to and ability in bridging cultural differences, as beautifully evidenced by the multi-language and cross-national collaborations he has led.”
Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division, Human Rights Watch.
“When I first worked with Jim at Human Rights Watch in the early 1990s he was bold, dedicated, and enterprising. He was self-motivated while always consultative. When he finished his first research and writing project, we published it and immediately hired him to carry out a second one, which he did successfully. Jim and I have remained friends ever since. In every conversation, Jim questions the conventional wisdom and welcomes alternative theories. His work is guided by passion, professionalism, and rigor.”
Senior Human Rights Advisor, Facebook
“Jim Ron combines a broad and impressive range of skills and experiences that allow him to provide high level, analytical skills to a range of businesses and organizations. He has a strong and expert commitment to human rights and a clear understanding of human rights concepts, global priorities and the landscape of the movement.
At the same time, he has – rarely for human rights activists – exceptionally strong methodological and analytical skills. His expertise in public opinion polling and quantitative analysis were particularly important for Human Rights Watch, where I worked as head of programs for many years. Jim led a groundbreaking initiative for HRW that addressed a profound need: to better understand attitudes to human rights in the US so as to better promote more positive and accepting attitudes.
Jim listens carefully and looks for ways to bring his expertise in research, political analysis, data analysis and more to serve the needs of partners and collaborators.”
General Manager, Life for a Child Program, Australia. Adjunct Professor, University of Sydney
“Jim has provided valuable support to the Life for a Child Program. He was instrumental in building the connections that led the Program to start in Mexico, and he has visited a number of countries to monitor and evaluate the work. These include some less-travelled countries in Central Asia. These visits require rapid adaptation to numerous very different medical and social situations, as well as diplomacy, insight, background knowledge, and warmth. He conducted these visits with great skill. Furthermore, he has also established research connections in USA, Canada and India which have resulted in various peer-reviewed publications which contribute to knowledge of diabetes care of young people in less-resourced settings.”
Executive Director, Human Rights Watch
“I began working with Jim as he was doing difficult on-the-ground research in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory. I joined him for part of it and helped to release the resulting report. Already, at a young age, he showed unusual attention to detail, a thoroughness and professionalism in his work, and a drive to make a difference. Since then, I have worked with Jim repeatedly as he emerged as the leading pollster on global attitudes toward human rights.
Jim’s sophisticated polling in pivotal countries around the world, coupled with his deeply analytic assessment of the findings, repeatedly provided enormously helpful insights into how people think about human rights and how best to engage them in the human rights cause. Jim also was the founder and editor of the leading on-line forum for the human rights movement to evaluate and improve its work, which became a go-to source to learn about creative new approaches to human rights and to discuss the movement’s future.
Through this all, Jim has maintained a close, valued working relationship with Human Rights Watch, gaining much esteem among the staff for his skills and contributions. He combines the best, empirically based academic rigor with a passion for improving the defense of human rights. He is an enormous asset to the human rights cause.”
President of Refugees International. Former Dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, and Former Assistant Secretary of State, Refugees, Population, and Migration.
“Jim Ron is a dedicated scholar and analyst whose research and published works have made important contributions to the field of human rights. His writing is thoughtful, clear, and creative. His empirical work has made a genuine and valuable difference to a norm-based discipline that has not often enough been rigorously subjected to qualitative and quantitative analysis.”