The Henry J. Leir Institute seeks to advance human security through pioneering research, education, and policy engagement that ensures the protection, empowerment, and well-being of all people, while promoting peace and sustainable development.

To accomplish this, the Leir Institute brings together faculty from diverse specializations, including development, conflict resolution, international law, human rights, humanitarian action, nutrition science, gender, and migration.

Our research, education and training, and policy engagement therefore emphasize the following principles:

  • Protection and promotion of the rights of at-risk populations, particularly women, children, minority groups, and migrants
  • Empowerment of people through dialogue, negotiation/mediation, political participation, and training
  • Promotion of responsible government and institutional practices to better respond to development-, rights- and conflict-related challenges

The Leir Institute resides within The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.


During his tenure as Dean of The Fletcher School, General John Rogers Galvin was deeply committed to the establishment of a new initiative that would strengthen Fletcher’s presence, visibility, and impact in the eradication of extreme misery, oppression, and violence in troubled regions around the world. Together with faculty, whose work lay at the intersection of humanitarianism, development, human rights, and conflict resolution, The Fletcher School founded the Institute for Human Security in 2000.

The term human security brings together the concerns and practices that deal with the many faces of, and close relations between, freedom from fear and freedom from want. To this end, the Institute for Human Security brings together people from areas of specialization as different as law, nutrition, politics, public health, psychology, business and economics, in search of a common goal – to conduct cutting edge research, education, and policy engagement to address today’s global challenges, with a strong ultimate focus on the well-being of all human beings.

Dr. Peter Uvin, while the Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies at The Fletcher School, served as founding Director (2000-2013). Dr. Eileen F. Babbitt, Professor of Practice, International Conflict Analysis and Resolution, succeeded Dr. Uvin as Director in 2014. In 2020, Dr. Katrina Burgess, Associate Professor of Political Economy, succeeded Dr. Babbitt.

The Institute for Human Security was renamed the Henry J. Leir Institute in 2017. View a video below from the renaming event, at which Tufts University President Anthony Monaco and Leir Charitable Foundations President Margot Gibis speak on the life and legacy of Henry J. Leir.



The Leir Institute relies on partnerships with other Fletcher and Tufts University institutions, including the The World Peace FoundationThe Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, the Institute for Business in the Global Context, the Feinstein International Center at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and The Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies as well as with academic and policy institutions worldwide.

The Leir Institute also proudly supports PRAXIS, The Fletcher Journal of Human Security – a student-run journal that explores topics that cut across the fields of humanitarianism, development, human rights, and conflict resolution.