Susan Waltz is both a scholar and a practitioner in the field of international human rights. She began her career as an area specialist, focusing on the North African countries of Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. Over the past twenty years she has conducted research on North African regional politics and the local human rights movement. More recently, her research has focused on the historical origins of international human rights instruments and the political processes that produced them. She is co-author of the website Human Rights Advocacy and the History of International Human Rights Standards, hosted by University of Michigan at http://humanrightshistory.umich.edu
From 1993-1999 Waltz was a member of the International Executive Committee of Amnesty International, and in 1996 she became the first American to chair the organization's international governing board. From 1998-2013 she was actively involved in international efforts to promote an international Arms Trade Treaty to prevent irresponsible transfers of small arms, successfully concluded in 2013. For several years she chaired a working group on arms transfers for Amnesty International—USA, and from 2009-2013 she served on AI-USA's Board of Directors. She currently serves on an executive committee overseeing the work of the Quaker United Nations Office, New York.
In 2011 Professor Waltz received a University of Michigan Rackham Master's Mentoring Award in recognition of her work with Ford School MPP students.