Posts Tagged ‘NGO’

Justice’s law firm exists 60 years In Geneva

September 28, 2018

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) celebrates its 60th year in Geneva.

2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the ICJ’s move to Geneva thanks to the Swiss jurist Jean-Flavien Lalive, who was ICJ’s Secretary General in 1958. This makes the ICJ one of the earliest international organizations to establish its headquarters in Geneva. DISCLAIMER: I worked for the ICJ from 1977-1982. The ICJ was at that time a small organisation with less than 10 persons including the interns. As Executive Secretary – the grandiose title belied my real position as the personal assistant of the impressive Secretary General Niall MacDermot. Still, then as now the ICJ plays a preeminent role as a non-governmental organization seeking to defend human rights and the rule of law worldwide.

The ICJ will mark this event with two major initiatives:

  • A visibility campaign from 26th September to 9th October: the TV screens on the Geneva public transport network and five vehicles will carry the slogan “Global Advocates for Justice and Human Rights – 60 years in Geneva”
  • The launch of the “60th Anniversary Appeal” to all lawyers in the Republic and canton of Geneva to support the ICJ and, in turn, their less privileged colleagues, victims of persecution on five continents.

Geneva can be proud of its image as the world human rights capital. It is a beacon for justice advocates around the world. We must continue to make it shine,” said Sam Zarifi, Secretary General of the ICJ. “Through its 60-year history, the ICJ has contributed significantly to Geneva’s human rights record: the campaigns that led to the creation of the post of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 1993 and the UN Human Rights Council in 2006, as well as the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Torture in 1984 are some emblematic examples,” said Olivier Coutau, Head of La Genève Internationale.

The international reputation of the ICJ rests on these pillars:

  • 60 Commissioners – eminent judges and lawyers – from all regions of the world and all legal systems – with unparalleled knowledge of the law and human rights;
  • Cooperating with governments committed to improving their human rights performance;
  • Effective balance of diplomacy, constructive criticism, capacity building, and if necessary, ‘naming and shaming’;
  • Unmatched direct access to national judiciaries, implementing international standards and improved legislation impacting millions;
  • Guiding, training and protecting judges and lawyers worldwide to uphold and implement international standards (e.g.in 2018, the ICJ provided local trainings on five continents to assist 4,300 judges, lawyers and prosecutors strengthen their ability to protect and promote fundamental rights)
  • Working for access to justice for victims, survivors and human rights defenders, in particular from marginalized communities;
  • Following a strict result based management in project delivery.

The ICJ has been awarded, during its long history, some of the most prestigious international awards: the Council of Europe Human Rights Prize, the United Nations Award for Human Rights, Erasmus Prize, Carnegie Foundation Wateler Peace Prize.

https://www.icj.org/global-advocates-for-justice-and-human-rights-the-icj-60-years-in-geneva/

Farewell message from Amnesty’s Salil Shetty

July 17, 2018

I announced Salil’s successor on 22 December [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/22/amnesty-announces-kumi-naidoo-as-next-secretary-general-effective-august-2018/]. The farewell message by the departing Secretary General, Salil Shetty, is worth sharing as it contains some general thoughts on the state of the human rights movement:

..

As some of you would know, after eight great years with Amnesty International, I am moving on. My time as Secretary General formally drew to a close on 8 July after the annual gathering of our global leadership in Poland. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your important and generous support through this period – a turbulent time in the world at large, and a crucial transformation process internally.
 
It is difficult to sum up eight years in a pithy way, but as we look back on the so-called Arab Spring, the Syrian conflict, spiralling refugee numbers, the social impact of government policies in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, and the rise of popular authoritarians in many countries, it is clear that we have lived – and continue to live – through very challenging times. The voices of those who stand up against oppression and the abuse of power are more isolated but more important than ever. And Amnesty has played a vital role in supporting these voices.
 
We have seen much fruit from the work in virtually every region of the world we have done together during this period – from the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty to some important breakthroughs on corporate accountability, from another 10 countries abolishing the death penalty to the release of innumerable prisoners unjustly detained. We have built a new body of work on technology and human rights, ready to confront important new challenges ahead. We have also seen some crucial steps forward on women’s rights and have good reason to hope for much more progress in the coming months and years. Above all, it has been a privilege to work with so many extraordinary people from every part of the world. I will treasure the memories of so many courageous activists I have met during my time with Amnesty.
 
For me, the biggest source of hope has always been people at the local level who refuse to accept injustice. During the past eight years we have had a strong focus on building a truly global human rights movement, particularly by rebalancing the centre of gravity from our traditional strongholds in the richer countries of the world towards a more distributed centre with a much stronger voice for the global south. The growth of Amnesty’s membership in key southern powerhouses such as Brazil, India, Indonesia, Egypt and Nigeria, has been very encouraging, and gives us stronger foundations for the future.
 
……..
I am delighted to hand over to my successor, Kumi Naidoo from South Africa, who will take up the reins on 15 August. Kumi is a well-respected activist and leader in the international NGO sector, having previously led Greenpeace International and CIVICUS. …


Best,

Salil Shetty

Anti-Torture NGO REDRESS seeks new director

September 30, 2017

REDRESS is a specialist human rights organisation that works globally to combat torture and support survivors in their quest for justice (see www.redress.org). It does so by: representing survivors’ interests before national and international courts and human rights bodies; advocating on their behalf with governments and other policy makers; working with partner organisations around the globe to increase civil society’s ability to fight against impunity, to prevent torture and to support those who suffer from it; and by raising awareness about the scourge of torture and the plight of survivors to strengthen institutions in their work against torture. Founded 25 years ago, REDRESS is headquartered in London but operates globally. Since 2016, REDRESS Nederland works closely with REDRESS from its office in The Hague. The Director currently oversees the work of both.

Although the deadline officially is 30 September it may be that late applications are accepted.

The role of Director is to lead all aspects of REDRESS, its staff and mission, reporting to the Board of Trustees. It involves:

  defining and implementing its overall strategy;

  recruiting, motivating and managing (directly or indirectly) its staff of up to 20, operating in an open high-performance culture within a strong governance framework;

  ensuring the highest possible standards of representation of clients and output of work from the staff;

  creating law changing legal and PR strategies and opportunities to combat torture in individual matters, including writing publicly on these issues;

  liaising and working with key stakeholders and contacts, including:

  running a fund-raising strategy with REDRESS’s supporters who are a mixture of well- known philanthropic trusts, law firms, individuals and states or para-state entities and ensuring a high level of transparency to them and complete delivery to them on their expectations;

  line management of the organisation and its finances;

  considerable travel; and

  working with the Board of Trustees of REDRESS itself, the board of REDRESS Nederland and the US Board to ensure alignment, support and good governance.

  • The post is full time and involves significant travel.The post is vacant from January 2018.

    Interviews will take place in October 2017. There will be two rounds of interviews. The process would also give final candidates the opportunity to meet the REDRESS team and to gain their own information on the standing of the organisation and the quality and approach of its staff.

    The Trustees would hope to make an appointment in October or early November for the new Director to start in January or as soon thereafter as practicable.

    Applications must include a full resume and a covering letter setting out why you are interested in the role, what you would bring to it, what you would want to achieve as Director and how you meet the criteria above. Applications are invited by 30 September 2017 to Sheilagh@redress.org.

New magazine “Global Geneva” puts “Civitas Maxima” in the limelight

March 21, 2017

Global Geneva is a new English language magazine for the international hub that Geneva want to be. In the issue of 15 March 2017. William Thatcher Dowell discusses the work of ‘CIVITAS MAXIMA’A Tiny Swiss Group of Lawyers Takes on War crimes and Crimes Against Humanity“.

The International Criminal Court at the Hague was created in 2002 to hold individuals responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The concept was good, but the international tribunal was almost immediately paralyzed by politics (See article in the latest edition of Global Geneva on justice must be seen to be done). As William Dowell writes, Alain Werner, who created Civitas Maxima in 2012, has a different idea: “represent the victims and fight the cases in domestic courts if need be

Rather than depend exclusively on international tribunals, Werner believes that it is worth shifting the focus to the actual victims of war crimes, and working with them to compile the solid evidence that is needed to enable a prosecution to stand up in any court of law. Once the evidence is there, the cases can be prosecuted in any court that expressly outlaws crimes against humanity. It does not matter if the court is an international tribunal, a specially constituted war crimes court or even an ordinary domestic court.

The name, Civitas Maxima, which translates roughly as “the greater state”, is reference to the legal term in Latin that captures the notion that all civilized societies hold certain values in common.  The implication is that any society, which considers itself civilized, will instinctively condemn international crimes such as crimes against humanity and war crimes. So far, Werner’s group has been investigating well over 10 cases, and at least three have led to actual arrests by national authorities since 2014. That may not seem much, but in fact, it represents a third of the extra-territorial arrests by national states for international crimes in 2014 and 2015. During that period, only eight extra territorial arrests by national authorities took place world-wide. One of Werner’s cases is currently being prosecuted in Switzerland; two are in Belgium. One of the accused, a naturalized American who held Belgian nationality and was arrested in Spain, died while in jail awaiting trial this spring.  This was the first time ever a Western businessman was arrested for the trade of so-called blood diamonds. Werner did this in conjunction with a local Sierra Leone partner, the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL). Most of the current public cases involve militia leaders who were responsible for atrocities during civil wars in Liberia.

Alain Werner as a lawyer is also representing victims of Hissène Habré, who was president of Chad from 1982 until 1990. The Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal, convicted Habré last May on charges of rape, sexual slavery, and slaughtering members of opposing tribes. Werner had been working on the case since 2008, and it was typical of the kind of case that the ICC would have particular difficulty in dealing with, even if it had jurisdiction. …….“One of the major issues in international justice,” Werner says, “is the fact that politics always affects the process. The International Criminal Court tries to create the impression that it is independent, but so far it has been mainly driven by political factors.” The answer to this conundrum, Werner feels, is for more independent organizations with legal expertise similar to that of Civitas Maxima to take the lead in building convincing cases that will stand up in court, and which cannot be ignored. “Organizations that advocate and write reports, like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, are doing a great job,” he says. “But in the end, you badly need independent lawyers and trained investigators who can compile evidence that meets international standards.”

A key requirement, of course, is funding. Werner says, “If you work independently you have to come up with the funds on your own, and in our case that is complicated by the fact that we do not accept funding from governments.”  

[Werner’s own involvement in prosecuting war crimes started with his work for the Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2003, including the trial of the former president of Liberia Charles Taylor…… In 2009, he went to Cambodia to represent victims in the case of the Khmer Rouge who had run the infamous S-21 concentration camp that fed into the “killing fields.”  After that he joined an independent group, the Aegis Trust, which also runs the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda , and which had a small programme focused on helping victims gather evidence.  The initiative ran out of funding after about two years, but by then Werner was already heavily involved in a number of cases involving victims of Charles Taylor’s operations in Liberia.  Werner decided that he couldn’t abandon the work, and so he created Civitas Maxima]

Werner is also collecting evidence from victims of Ivory Coast’s current president, Alassane Ouattara, whose forces are accused of committing atrocities during the post-electoral violence of 2010 and 2011. His predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, is the first head of state to be tried for war crimes at the ICC for atrocities committed during the same period by his own forces.  With both current and past president accused of war crimes, Ivory Coast is a particularly sensitive area…..

We need to grow the concept,” he says. “Will Civitas Maxima continue to be successful, or will another independent take the idea and make it grow? I don’t know, but I am convinced that we really need this innovative approach. In the United States, you have a head of state saying that torture is fine and in the Philippines another one boasting about the fact that he has killed criminals. The climate is getting crazy. We absolutely need more fiercely independent lawyers to use their expertise to counter impunity for mass crimes.

Source: CIVITAS MAXIMA—A Tiny Swiss Group of Lawyers Takes on War crimes and Crimes Against Humanity | Global Geneva

International Commission of Jurists appoints five personalities as new Commissioners

January 10, 2017

After giving itself a new Secretary General [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/11/04/sam-zarifi-new-sg-of-the-international-commission-of-jurists/] the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in Geneva has now announced new additions to its main body: the Commission:

The following five new Commissioners have recently been elected: Mr Reed Brody (United States), Ms Roberta Clarke (Barbados/Canada), Professor Juan Mendez (Argentina), Mr Alejandro Salinas Rivera (Chile) and Justice Kalyan Shrestha (Nepal). It is an impressive list: Read the rest of this entry »

Front Line Defenders announces steady hand Andrew Anderson as new Executive Director

October 8, 2016

Dublin-based NGO Front Line Defenders announced on 6 October 2016 that Andrew Anderson has been appointed as the organisation’s new Executive Director. Andrew has worked for the international protection of human rights defenders for more than twenty years, and has played a key leadership role in building Front Line Defenders into an effective force fighting for those most at risk. He will begin his new role on 1 November 2016.

The Front Line Defenders Board of Trustees selected Andrew due to his extensive management, fundraising and human rights experience. In its announcement, the Board of Trustees noted that it “unanimously agreed that Andrew is the candidate with the experience and skills best placed to lead Front Line Defenders into the next stage of our development.

Andrew Anderson and Mary Lawlor, launch of the 2016 Annual Report

The choice is a good one in my view as Andrew has 27 years experience of working for human rights at the international level and has served as Deputy Director of Front Line Defenders since March 2003. As Deputy Director, he led the development of an international civil society consortium to implement the EU human rights defenders mechanism (www.ProtectDefenders.eu), and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York. Before joining Front Line Defenders, Andrew worked for thirteen years at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International where he served as Director of the Campaigning and Crisis Response Programme and as Director of the Africa Programme. For an earlier video statement by Andrew see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/andrew-anderson-speaks-and-speaks-well-on-the-anniversary-of-un-declaration-on-hrds-youtube/.

“It is an honour and a challenge to take on this role at a time when human rights defenders are facing increasing attacks in all regions of the world,” said Andrew. “We must sustain the drive and energy which made Front Line Defenders so effective under Mary’s inspirational leadership and build on that legacy to deliver rapid and practical support for those who risk their lives to build a better future.”

Andrew will succeed Front Line Defenders’ current Executive Director Mary Lawlor, who founded the organisation in 2001. See: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/mary-lawlor-leaves-as-executive-director-of-front-line-defenders-job-search-for-successor-started/

Source: Front Line Defenders Announces New Executive Director, Andrew Anderson | Front Line Defenders

Executive Director of HURIDOCS needs to have the following:

September 6, 2016

 (Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems, International) has started its search for a new  Executive Director as envisaged in my post of 5 August: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/daniel-desposito-huridocs-executive-director-announces-his-departure/.

HURIDOCS expects:

  • A willingness to embrace new challenges with HURIDOCS’ partners while ensuring continuity and quality in our work and products.
  • Some travelling will be required, but Geneva will be the base for the most part of the working time.
  • An open management style, with regular contact and ongoing communication and dialogue with all staff members regardless of their physical location. [HURIDOCS employs 17 staff members with a total of 13 full time positions with many staff members operating remotely]

General Duties include:

  • Lead strategic planning and implementation of strategy
  • Fundraising
  • General management of HURIDOCS resources, including financial and human resource
  • Representing HURIDOCS to the human rights community, and to the public at large
  • Maintaining knowledge of the needs in relation to information and documentation of organisations in the human rights space, as well as an understanding of technology trends and directions from a management perspective

Specific Duties:

  • Overall supervision and guidance of the software development process
  • Identifying and understanding the needs of the organisations HURIDOCS serves, and available opportunities
  • Cultivating the ground for HURIDOCS‘ powerhouses’ – organisations in different regions to serve as focal points for HURIDOCS’ human rights solutions in different regions of the world

Qualifications:

  • University education: Preferably at least a master’s degree in a discipline relating to the work of HURIDOCS, or its equivalent in a relevant field
  • A background in the Human Rights environment and knowledge of how legal systems operate is highly desirable
  • An ability to communicate about complex topics in engaging ways

Skills include:

  • Proven ability to raise funds and to secure strategic relationships with key actors (Required)
  • Fluency in both written and spoken English and proficiency in another language (Required)
  • Familiarity with different types of technology and their application in a human rights context (Required)
  • Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to manage a diverse international and multicultural workplace (Required)
  • Ability to lead negotiations (Required)

Experience:

  • Experience in the successful management of a non-profit organisation (Required)
  • At least 5 years experience in the human rights field (Strongly desired)

The new Executive Director should be in place in Geneva in January 2017. Visit www.huridocs.org for more information. If you have any specific questions you may contact HURIDOCS Board Member Douglas Arellanes at douglas.arellanes@huridocs.org. Your application and CV should be sent to edrecruitment@huridocs.org no later than 15 October 2016.

TRIAL at 14 has a FACELIFT

June 13, 2016

TRIAL InternationalThe NGO TRIAL came into being on 6 June 2002. That day, its members met for their first General Assembly, laying out the organization’s mission which still constitute its cornerstones today: fighting impunity, supporting victims in their quest for justice and redress, building an international network of committed lawyers, advocating for fairer laws and policies.

Since then, TRIAL has never stopped expanding: it is now present on three continents and recognized as a key actor in the worldwide fight against impunity. It was therefore time for TRIAL’s identity to evolve and reflect this broader scope of action. For the past three years the  staff has worked on an important makeover.

TRIAL’s new identity includes a new name, a new visual identity and a new website:

TRIAL International will from now on be the organization’s official name. [“We have outgrown the names ‘Swiss association against impunity’ and ‘Track Impunity Always’, which will no longer be used”, explained Director Philip Grant“We believe that TRIAL International will better reflect our international scope, while remaining faithful to who we are”]

The new logo combines a spunky orange with a powerful black & white doors symbol.

The main facelift is TRIAL International’s new website. [“We wanted the navigation to be very intuitive, hence the simplified sitemap, the shorter texts and the refined search function. We also wished to bring to light the human aspect of our work, with victims’ stories at the forefront”, said Kevin Karlen, the organization’s Web Project Officer.]

Source: TRIAL turns fourteen and change is in the air – TRIAL

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/05/07/more-on-impunity-guatemalas-ex-police-chief-jailed-for-life-in-appeal-before-swiss-court/

2016 Annual Report of the International Service for Human Rights is out

May 15, 2016

Today the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) announced the publication of its annual report which highlights key developments during 2015 and its vision for 2016 and the years ahead.

Source: Our vision and achievements: ISHR’s 2016 Annual Report | ISHR

 

for more posts on the ISHR, see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/ishr/ISHR-logo-colour-high

Erik-Aimé Semien: human rights defender from Côte d’Ivoire

December 26, 2015

 

Erik-Aimé Semien is a lawyer and human rights defender at Observatoire Ivoirien des Droits de l’Homme, a non-governmental organisation that aims to achieve human rights progress through capacity building and constructive dialogue with the authorities. On 9 July 2015 he talked with the Intern national Service for Human Rights about his work. ‘What we want’, Eric explains, ‘is to make them understand why human rights are important for the progress of our nation’.ISHR-logo-colour-high

Eric was first drawn to human rights when Cote d’Ivoire plunged into civil war in 1999, following a military-led coup d’etat. What followed were ten years of violence and sectarian strife. ‘We are a country coming out of ten years of civil war, but the main problems are not yet solved. It was widespread frustration and a lack of democratic institutions that caused the war; and it is for overcoming frustration and the creation of democratic institutions that we continue to struggle.’

Eric explains that frustration is caused when there is a lack of transparency in government work, when the president favours his regional or ethnic group over others, when there is impunity for war crimes, and when voices critical of the government are excluded from debate.

Take the national TV, a public service paid for by public taxes. If you watch TV in Cote d’Ivoire, you will receive the impression that the perspective of the president of the republic is the only perspective there is. It was the same for the former president. This means that if you disagree with government policy, National TV will no longer interest you, for you will find no expression of your opinion. This begs the question, if you disagree, where can you go? To whom can you speak? The result is frustration. The media outlets need to be open to everybody, to civil society, to the opposition, to everybody.

In addition to advocating for more inclusive democratic institutions, Observatoire Ivoirien des Droits de l’Homme works to combat impunity. The war lasted ten years, but today, not only do many people on the winning side who committed human rights violations walk free, but they also enjoy appointments in the army and the administration.

‘After the war I think we should have a fair and equitable justice. What a victim wants is to see those who committed human rights violations behind bars. We organise victims and take their cases to court. We say to the judge, find out who did this and send them to prison. If they do this, it will release tension. The government recently set up a trust fund that provides financial compensation for victims. This is a positive step. But it needs to be accompanied by a clear message: whoever you are, in whatever position, you are not above the rule of law.’

One of the challenges Eric faces is a lack of awareness in the government of what human rights defenders are and what they do.

‘In Cote d’Ivoire certain authorities don’t have a clear idea of the role of civil society. They think we are causing a disturbance when all we want is the progress of our nation. But I have to admit that the situation is improving. Previously the authorities were closed but now they are much more open. They listen to us more and we are allowed to participate in meetings.’

One remarkable result of this increased openness on the government’s part is the adoption in June 2014 of a law that protects human rights defenders. ‘In the build up to the drafting of this law, we clearly explained why protecting human rights defenders was important. Many human rights NGOs were involved in the process. We had several meetings with parliament representatives and even at the national assembly. We had to explain who human rights defenders were and why protecting them is important. I am proud of Cote d’Ivoire that we have adopted this law, which is the only law of its kind on the African continent.’

The law, although still largely unknown, has already had a positive impact. In 2014 the leaders of a public assembly protesting the high costs of grocery goods were arrested. But the Observatioire Ivoirienne intervened and showed the prosecutor the law. The protesters were subsequently freed. ‘Now, whenever we have a problem with authorities, we can show them this law, and they will see that we are protected. This will make our work much easier and less dangerous. In a democracy, in a rule of law state, the government should engage with civil society. The role of civil society is that of counter balance. We don’t want to antagonise the authorities needlessly nor do we seek power. We would like to see change coming from the inside and genuinely inclusive democratic institutions and not just superficial engagement. I am proud of Cote d’Ivoire for the progress we have made, of which this new law is tangible proof, but we still have some way to go. The frustration that causes war needs to be eliminated for good.

Source: Erik-Aimé Semien: Human rights defender from Côte d’Ivoire | ISHR