Raymond Smith

Executive Committee Member, Human Rights Practice Program
Director of Undergraduate Studies, Human Rights Practice Program
Faculty Member

Raymond A. Smith, Ph.D., LL.M., is a political scientist focusing on issues of human rights, civil rights, comparative politics, and the balance of majority rule and minority rights within democratic political systems. He is on the faculty of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona.  

Within the Human Rights Practice Program, Dr. Smith has been designated as an Executive Committee member, Director of Undergraduate Studies, faculty member, team member for the program's Ukraine and Myanmar initiatives, and  Editor of the UArizona HRTS Blog. He has also been Assistant Director of the Master's in Development Practice Program (MDP) Program in the UArizona School of Geography, Development, and Environment (SGDE). 

Dr. Smith joined UArizona in 2018 after spending more than 20 years in New York City, where he was on the adjunct political science faculties at Columbia University and New York University (NYU). His book Extending International Human Rights Protections to Vulnerable Populations (Routledge FOCUS) was based on research conducted at the Human Rights Centre of the University of Essex Law School in the UK, where he completed an LL.M. in international human rights law. His prior graduate degrees are a Ph.D. in political science from Columbia, where he was a President’s Fellow, and an M.A. in international relations from Yale University, where he was a Fellow of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and a Teaching Fellow. From 2013-2016, he was a Senior Fellow with the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), a thinktank in Washington DC.

At the University of Essex, Dr. Smith’s work included a project to enhance the capacity of the World Health Organization (WHO) to engage with the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which focuses on compliance by states with their international treaty obligations. He was co-author of a report on this study in the WHO Bulletin and lead author of a subsequent policy brief for the WHO.  Dr. Smith has also been a civil society representative to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, on behalf of the United Nations Association of the United States (UNA-USA), and is a contributor to the human rights blog Open Global Rights

Dr. Smith has worked extensively on the international HIV/AIDS epidemic, including more than a decade as a researcher and administrator at the Division of Gender, Sexuality, and Health at the Columbia University Medical Center. In this capacity, he spent five years as associate program director of a fellowship for emerging community leaders in HIV prevention in urban and rural South Africa. At Columbia, he was also a founding committee member of the Program for the Study of LGBT Health and an investigator on several research studies conducted by the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies.  Prior to this, he was Research Director at the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) in Washington, DC. Dr. Smith is the author, co-author, or editor of a number of HIV/AIDS related books, including: Global HIV/AIDS Politics, Policy, and Activism: Persistent Challenges and Emerging Issues (3-volume multi-author bookset); Drugs Into Bodies: Global AIDS Treatment Activism (with Patricia Siplon); and the first-ever English-language international Encyclopedia of AIDS: A Social, Political, Cultural, and Scientific Record of the HIV Epidemic, which won awards from the American Library Association and the New York Public Library.

Dr. Smith is also author or co-author of several books on U.S. politics, including: The American Anomaly: US Politics and Government in Comparative Perspective; Importing Democracy: Ideas from Around the World to Reform and Revitalize American Politics and Government; The Politics of Sexuality: Primary Documents with Commentary; and Gay and Lesbian Americans and Political Participation. He has edited two politics books series: "Political Participation in America" (ABC-CLIO) and "New Trends and Ideas in American Politics" (Praeger). His political commentary has appeared in The Washington Post, The Hill, Huffington Post, Politico Magazine, The Daily Beast, Washington Monthly, and The New York Times Op-Ed page.