Robert O. Varenik serves as the director of programs for the Open Society Justice Initiative. Varenik was previously based in Mexico City with the Law Faculty of Mexico City’s CIDE (Center for Investigation and Economic Research), where he coordinated work on criminal justice and public security reform and directed the student clinic on juvenile sexual abuse and trafficking.
In Mexico, Varenik also designed and directed projects for the Institute for Security and Democracy (Instituto Para la Seguridad y la Democracia–Insyde) which he helped found in 2003.
Since the late 1980s, Varenik’s work as a human rights lawyer has focused principally on criminal justice and judicial reform issues in Latin America and the Caribbean, Northern Ireland, Turkey, and Cambodia. For more than a decade, Varenik served the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First) in a variety of positions, including coordinator for Latin America and director of the protection program, aimed at assisting human rights activists and lawyers at risk.