Yakın Ertürk received her PhD from Cornell University in development psychology in 1980. She served on the faculty of the Department of Sociology, Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey from 1986 to 2010. Her academic areas of interest include International Human Rights Regimes, Identity Politics, Conflict and Violence against Women, Globalization and Population Movements, Household Labour Use Patterns and Women in Development.
In 1997 Prof. Dr. Ertürk joined the United Nations, serving first as Director of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (Oct.1997- Feb.1999), then as Director of The Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) at UN Headquarters in New York (March 1999 – Oct. 2001). She has worked for various national and international agencies on rural development and women in development projects.
From 2003 to 2009, Prof. Dr. Ertürk served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women. Within this context, she submitted reports regarding violations of women's human rights from around the world to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. She currently serves on the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture and has undertaken numerous international assignments, including as a member of the International Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic by the UNHRC (Sept 2011-March 2012).