James Ron was born in the US, lived in France, and then moved to Jerusalem when he was nine. His experiences as a Jerusalem-based journalist during the first Palestinian uprising pushed him to study politics, nationalism, and human rights. He earned a BA in political science at Stanford University, returning home to work with the Associated Press whenever possible. He also began volunteering at B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization focused on Palestinian issues. He later began working for Human Rights Watch, a US-based organization, and has consulted with them for almost thirty years.
After his undergraduate studies, James Ron began a doctorate in sociology at UC Berkeley. His doctoral fellowship took him to the Brookings Institution and the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. He completed his dissertation on political violence in Israel/Palestine and Serbia. During this time, he also consulted for the International Committee of the Red Cross and CARE-USA.
James Ron’s first academic job was with the sociology department at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. He later accepted a Canada Research Chair in sociology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He moved five years later to the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa. He then taught at a Mexico City university, CIDE, and at the University of Minnesota, where he held the Stassen Chair of International Affairs.
In 2013, James co-founded Open Global Rights, an online, multilingual forum for human rights professionals seeking to exchange views on strategy, research methods, social impacts, and funding. In 2010, he began volunteering for Life for a Child, an Australian organization affiliated with the International Diabetes Federation. The group provides insulin and other vital medical supplies to children and youth in low-income countries. James travels to visit their programs worldwide, assessing needs, collecting stories, and evaluating the impact of their work.
James is now beginning a new venture with colleagues, co-founding a private research company, Azimuth Social Research. Their first project is a series of surveys on public attitudes towards Chinese investment in low and middle-income countries.