Mike Amitay

© Jeff Hutchens for the Open Society Foundations

Mike Amitay is the senior policy analyst for the Middle East and North Africa at the Open Society Foundations. He serves as an advocate between these regions and the international community in Washington, D.C.

Amitay has extensive experience in human rights and foreign policy issues. From 1996 to 2005, he served as executive director of the Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that he helped establish to address a wide range of issues affecting Kurdish communities in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Under Amitay’s direction, WKI and partners initiated humanitarian medical treatment and research programs in Iraqi Kurdistan to address long-term health effects of exposure to chemical weapons. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to correlate weapons of mass destruction attack sites with medical and environmental data, WKI established community-based health education and service delivery platforms operated by women in isolated rural areas.

From 1987 to 1996, Amitay served as a professional staff member at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission), a government body which monitors human rights compliance among 55 participating states in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Amitay coordinated activities related to Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus and specialized in Kurdish affairs. Amitay served on official U.S. delegations to numerous OSCE meetings and organized U.S. and European parliamentary delegations to Turkey. Also responsible for the Commission’s work in the United States, he authored a 1991 report on homelessness in the U.S. and organized an extensive examination of migrant worker conditions. Amitay organized extensive examinations of the applicability of the OSCE model in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Asia. In 1995, Amitay founded Human Rights Access (HRX), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that promoted human rights and development of international law through arts and education.

Amitay received an MA in international history from the London School of Economics, completing a thesis entitled “The Great Powers and Formation of a Polish Provisional Government: 1943-44”and a BA in history from Brown University.