Brian J. Dooley

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Brian J. Dooley
Photo of Brian.jpg
Born 1963
Nationality Republic of Ireland Irish
Occupation Human Rights Activist
Years active 1980 - present

Brian J. Dooley (born 1963) is an Irish human rights activist and author. He is the Director of Human Rights Defenders[1] at Human Rights First based in Washington DC.


Dooley leads Human Rights First's efforts to ensure that human rights defenders can work free from harm and interference, engaging with the U.S. and other governments to end threats and obstacles to human rights work.

For the 20 years prior to joining Human Rights First, Brian worked for U.S., Irish and international NGOs. He has written for and is regularly quoted in international print and broadcast media including the Washington Post, New York Times, BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera, and has a column in the Huffington Post.[2] During the 1980s and 1990s he was a literary critic for The Economist, The Guardian, and for The Irish Times.

For several years Brian led Amnesty International's work on partnering with national NGOs in the global South. Brian has also worked as Head of Media for Amnesty International in London and in Dublin, and as Director of Communications for Public Citizen in Washington, D.C.

He is the author of several books[3] about civil rights and U.S. politics, and had early experience on the Hill, interning for Senator Edward Kennedy in the mid-80s as a legislative researcher, contributing to what ultimately became the 1986 Anti-Apartheid Act.

Before that, he lived and worked as an English teacher and community organizer in a black township in South Africa in 1981-1982 in defiance of apartheid's racial segregation laws. Other human rights work included helping establish Baltic Pride marches 2007–2010.

His work for Amnesty International included being on research teams sent to conflicts in Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2009, and on the ambassador of Conscience Award project for Nelson Mandela in 2005.

Dooley has an MPhil in Government and Politics from the Open University, and a B.A. with honors in Political Science from the University of East Anglia. He represented The University of East Anglia at cricket and football, and the George Washington University in Washington DC at football (soccer).


Dooley has written three books, "Black and Green: The Fight for Civil Rights in Northern Ireland & Black America" [4] about the historic links between the civil rights movements in Northern Ireland and the US, "Robert Kennedy: The Final Years" [5] a political biography of Bobby Kennedy, and "Choosing the Green?"[6] about the Irish diaspora and the Irish conflict.

Bahraini uprising[edit]

Throughout the Bahraini uprising, Brian has produced a series of reports and articles highly critical of the Bahraini regime which are regularly featured in the international press.[7] A November 2013 report urged the U.S. to change its approach on Bahrain - Plan B for Bahrain: What the U.S. government should do next[8] and a 2015 suggested ways the U.S. government could help bring stability through the promotion of human rights in Bahrain.[9]

He is a speaker on human rights issues at government, academic, and think tank events and has testified at U.S. Congressional hearings on the threats to civil society and human rights worldwide[10]

He was denied access to Bahrain in January 2012[11] which promoted members of US Congress to complain to the government of Bahrain.[12] Admitted to Bahrain in March 2012, he has been refused access to the country since, despite repeated requests to enter. In August 2014 Dooley was refused access to Bahrain with U.S. Congressman James McGovern.[13] The continued denial of Dooley's access to Bahrain is documented in the U.S. State Department's Country Reports for 2012, 2013 and 2014.[14][15]

The Bahrain Ambassador to the US wrote a blog in 2012 criticizing Dooley, entitled "Responding to Brian Dooley's Article in Foreign Policy"[16] and Brian invited the ambassador for a public debate, which was refused.[17] In September 2014 an article he wrote about Bahrain for Defense One [18] was featured by the Washington Post editorial board in a piece on U.S. Imperfect Allies in the Middle East[19] and by the Aspen Institute as a Best Idea of the Day.[20] He was cited again by name in a June 2015 Washington Post editorial Bahrain's Rulers Now Flout the U.S. Openly [21]

Human rights work in Egypt, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates and Kenya[edit]

In March 2013 [22] and May 2013 [23] he authored reports critical of the Morsi government in Egypt and reported from Cairo in August 2013 on the government's decision to clear the Muslim Brotherhood protests.[24] In January 2014 he was in Cairo reporting on Egypt's constitutional referendum and authored a report on the continuing crackdown on human rights in Egypt which called for an overhaul of U.S. government policy towards Egypt [25] and in December 2014 another report on the fears of Egyptian civil society confronted with a new crackdown.[26]

In 2014 Dooley reported on political extremism in Ukraine [27] and on difficulties for civil society during the conflict with Russia[28] and in October 2014 authored a report on what the U.S. government should do to support democracy and human rights in Ukraine.[29]

In 2015 he reported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE)[30] on the suffocation of civil society there on the eve of UEA and other Gulf leaders arriving at Camp David for a summit meeting with President Obama. He authored a report on human rights in the UAE[31] and articles on the summit.[32][33]

In 2015 he also reported from Kenya on the country's efforts to counter violent extremism,[34] and authored a report in advance of the visit of President Obama's visit to Kenya.[35]

Mandela Legacy[edit]

On the death of Nelson Mandela in December 2013 Dooley provided analysis and media commentary on the legacy of Mandela, including in the New York Times,[36] NPR,[37] Al Jazeera, Huffington Post [38] and various other international media.[39][40]


  1. ^ Dooley, Brian. "Brian Dooley". Human Rights First. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Dooley, Brian. "Brian Dooley". Huffington Post. 
  3. ^ Dooley, Brian. "Dooley Profile on". Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Dooley, Brian (Apr 1, 1998). Black and Green: The Fight for Civil Rights in Northern Ireland & Black America. Pluto Pr. p. 192. ISBN 0745312950. 
  5. ^ Dooley, Brian (1996). Robert Kennedy: The Final Years. St. Martin's Press. p. 191. ISBN 0312161301. 
  6. ^ Dooley, Brian (2004). Choosing the Green?. Beyond the Pale Publications. p. 192. ISBN 1900960265. 
  7. ^ "Brian Dooley list of articles on" Huffington Post
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ "Bahrain Denies Brian Dooley Entry" Human Rights First
  12. ^ "Members of Congress Request NGOs Access to Bahrain" POMED
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Responding to Brian Dooley's Article in Foreign Policy" Blog of Bahrain's Ambassador Huda Nono
  17. ^ "Dooley Invites Bahrain Ambassador to Public Discussion of Human Rights Reform" Human Rights First
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ Board, Editorial (27 September 2014). "Imperfect allies in the Middle East". The Washington Post. 
  20. ^ [3]
  21. ^
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Cairo's Dispersal Dilemma". Huffington Post. 13 August 2013. 
  25. ^ [4]
  26. ^ [5]
  27. ^
  28. ^ "It's Time Kyiv Got It Right". Huffington Post. 5 July 2014. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Trouble in Paradise: How U.S. Ally UAE Crushes Dissent". Huffington Post. 28 April 2015. 
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ "How To Sound Like a Washington Expert on Bahrain". Huffington Post. 6 May 2015. 
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ Kristof, Nicholas D. (11 December 2013). "How to Truly Honor Mandela". The New York Times. 
  37. ^
  38. ^ "Mandela, The United States, And Bahrain". Huffington Post. 5 December 2013. 
  39. ^
  40. ^

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