Posts Tagged ‘leaving’

HURIDOCS – who will continue Friedhelm Weinberg’s excellent leadership?

December 12, 2022

After more than 10 years, Friedhelm Weinberg will be leaving HURIDOCS in early 2023. Having worked with him in person on many occasions, I can testify that his leadership has been most impressive, for the NGO itself [see e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/category/organisations/huridocs/] and the in the area of networking with others, such as the MEA and THF [see e.g. his: https://youtu.be/zDxPbd9St9Y]. In his own announcement, he modestly refers to all his colleagues:

It has been an incredible decade with HURIDOCS, working with amazing colleagues and partners at the intersection of human rights and technology. Together, we have drastically increased support to activists to leverage technology for documentation, litigation and advocacy work. We have pioneered flexible, reliable and robust software tools such as Uwazi, while responsibly sunsetting the past generation of open source software.

None of this would have been possible without the team we have built, and that was collaborating remotely across the globe well before 2020. It’s a committed, humorous and professional bunch, and I have learned so much with every single one of them, as we made things happen and as we hit walls and then picked each other up. I am also grateful to our board that brings together wisdom from leading NGOs, technology companies, the financial sector, but, more importantly, people that were generous with guidance, encouragement and critique.

It has also been a decade of many heartbreaks. From partners whose offices have been raided, that have been declared foreign agents, threatened, attacked. From wars and conflicts breaking out, affecting people we work with. From the difficulties of all we’re doing sometimes not being enough. From worrying how to raise the money to sustain and grow a team that can rise to these challenges.

It is a bittersweet departure, because it has been life-affirming – and yet it is for a perspective that fills me with warmth and excitement. For a while, I will be with our children, with the second one due to arrive in early 2023. 

As I have made the decision to leave HURIDOCS, I also have felt really down and much of the stress built up over a decade manifested physically. Seeking treatment, I have been diagnosed with burnout and depression, and have been recovering with the support from specialists, friends and family. This is neither a badge of honor nor something I want to be shy about, it’s just the reason you haven’t seen much of me recently in professional circles. It’s getting better and I am grateful to have the time and space for healing.

Currently, Nancy Yu is leading HURIDOCS as Interim Executive Director, as Lisa Reinsberg as the Board Chair holds the space and directs the succession process. I am grateful to both of them to step up and step in, as well as the team, our partners and funders for a decade of working together to advance human rights.

As the search for his successor has started, please have a look at the recruitment announcement and consider applying or sharing it with suitable candidates: https://lnkd.in/e7Y7smqT

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:7005479545189322752/

Michael Ineichen leaves ISHR and a legacy

May 9, 2020
Michael Ineichen – ISHR programme director  – leaves the International Serivce for Human Rights and on 30 April 2020 he wrote a farewell note: “Leaving ISHR: thanks for 14 years of purpose, inspiration and learning”. He was often mentioned in this blog, see e.g.: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/michael-ineichen/. But fortunately he stays in Switzerland and in the human rights world: AI Switzerland.
 
Today, almost 14 years after joining “the service” I’m saying farewell to the International Service for Human Rights……I joined ISHR as an intern in 2006. Fresh off university, with a baby underway while fellow interns were spending their non-existent salaries on drinks by the lake. I was expecting to find a job, but found a purpose, a second family, and inspiration for a lifetime.

With my academic notion of “international human rights”, I knew very little of the reality experienced by the human rights defenders who struggle every day for more just, rights-respecting and equal societies. Back then, I was yet to be inspired by the courage, dedication, pain, doubt, joy and laughter of the many human rights activists I had the privilege of meeting over the years. I was yet to be appalled by the human rights violations and abuses of governments and unscrupulous companies, and the brazen efforts of some diplomats and governments to hide the truth from the eyes of the world, or somewhat reassured by the equally sustained efforts of others to create space for civil society and push for accountability.

In the last 14 years, there was not one week when I did not draw inspiration from one or more of the many human rights defenders ISHR works with. You are the reason this organisation exists. Among the stories which marked me the most, and which illustrates both the tremendous solidarity and deep frustration of engaging with international human rights mechanisms, is that of Chinese defender Cao Shunli.

She campaigned for something that most of us take for granted: independent civil society input into her government’s human rights report to the UN. As a result of her activism, she was blocked from travelling to Geneva, and – having been denied medical treatment – passed away in detention. Together with many civil society activists, I wanted to observe a moment of silence at the Human Rights Council in her memory. But the Chinese delegation was outraged, and interrupted the meeting for more than an hour. To this day, Cao Shunli’s death remains unaccounted for, and six successive Human Rights Council Presidents have failed to fully resolve this most emblematic case of reprisals. So much for the deep frustration. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/03/27/china-or-the-un-must-ensure-independent-investigation-into-death-of-cao-shunli/]

However, there’s also solidarity. Instead of stifling opposing views, with its heavy handed response even in the HRC, the Chinese delegation attracted massive attention to Cao Shunli and her struggle, and triggered an intense moment of global solidarity. Every member of civil society in the room was standing up – with Cao Shunli, and the human rights movement as a whole. Afterwards, every diplomat in Geneva knew Cao Shunli, and her story contributed significantly to the creation of a stronger UN response to reprisals. And, years later, Chinese human rights activists whom I’ve never met in my life look at me with a hint of recognition, saying “I know you. You’re the guy who stood up to our government, and made the UPR meaningful. We all watched behind the firewall.”

Hers is but one of the many stories I take with me, as I open a new chapter in my professional life. There are many others, happy and sad, of human rights defenders who have extended their trust to ISHR and myself. From Alphonsus to Ziad, I will always be grateful for the chance to reflect together on using the opportunities of international advocacy towards our common human rights struggle.  


I’ve seen times when donors trust in the track record, dedication and commitment of a civil society organisation like ISHR, or conversely when they insist on wasteful and narrow-minded administrative processes…..And I’ve seen how a strong focus on solidarity, well-being and passion can bring teams and an entire organisation to punch well above their weight. And finally, the last 14 years have been a period of immense personal growth – not always easy and smooth, but  I’ve grown as a father, husband and person. And I thank ISHR for being 100% supportive along the way.

As I look forward to opening a new chapter in my professional life by joining Amnesty Switzerland, I wish ISHR – Phil, the amazing team of staff, its dedicated board and the human rights defenders community it works with and supports – all the best for navigating these challenging times. You have and will continue to profoundly shape the human rights world, and I am proud and grateful to have been a part of the team.

Merci

https://www.ishr.ch/news/leaving-ishr-thanks-14-years-purpose-inspiration-and-learning