Posts Tagged ‘People Matter’

New book on Theo van Boven’s crucial role in the development of the UN human rights system

March 7, 2019

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The Advent of Universal Protection of Human Rights – Theo van Boven and the Transformation of the UN Role

In this ‘biography’ Bertie Ramcharan tells the story of Theo van Boven’s dynamic and courageous leadership to develop UN protection. Van Boven has been a life-long scholar and practitioner of human rights. He served in the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, represented The Netherlands in the UN Commission on Human Rights, served as an expert in its Sub-Commission on Human Rights, and also on the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. He was the Director of the UN Human Rights secretariat from 1977 to 1982, and later served as Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, and as UN Special Rapporteur against Torture.

As Director of the UN Human Rights secretariat, Professor van Boven built up the protection capacity of the United Nations piece by piece and thereby transformed the UN’s role. He initiated every protection mechanism in use at the United Nations today. He was thus ‘the father‘ of the contemporary system of United Nations protection.

This book is a study of leadership and strategy. If one is to be able to deepen the protection capacity of the UN in the future, it is crucial to understand how the foundations were laid. This book, based on the personal papers of Professor van Boven and of the author, who was his Special Assistant, tells the story of his remarkable leadership of the UN Human Rights secretariat. Published by Springer – ISBN 978-3-030-02221-1

 

In 1982 Meulenhoff published Theo’s speeches on the occasion of his forced departure from the UN. In the preface I tried to explain the how and why.

https://www.springer.com/gb/book/9783030022204#aboutBook

Theo van Boven reflects on 70 years United Nations

December 16, 2015

Theo van Boven – former Director of the UN Human Rights Division – was asked by the United Nations Association of the Netherlands to express his personal views of the UN and his role in the development of the human rights sector. Under the title “THE UNITED NATIONS AT THE AGE OF 70″ he said inter alia the following: 

Theo van Boven 2011

Theo van Boven 2011

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Theo van Boven honored with film and debate in Geneva side event 14 March

March 5, 2014

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Theo van Boven (c) Dovana

With the start of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, there is also a plethora of side events scheduled. I will focus only on those that have Human Rights Defenders as a central theme (e.g. https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/important-human-rights-council-side-event-on-11-march-to-be-followed-on-internet/). Another one that promises to be interesting is organised by the Permanent Missions of the Netherlands and Argentina on 14 March 2014 from 13h00 – 15h:00 in Room XXI of the Palais des Nations. The main ingredient is the screening of a documentary:  Theo van Boven: a tribute”.

[Theo van Boven was Director of Human Rights in the UN in the early 80’s and was instrumental in creating what are now called the special procedures. How he was “hired and fired” by the UN in 1982 for the same reason – his deep concern for the right of people – is described in my collection of speeches by Theo van Boven: People Matter: Views on International Human Rights Policy (Meulenhoff: Amsterdam 1982)]

The film is introduced by Kees Flinterman (member of the Human Rights Committee) and Ms Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. The screening is followed by a panel discussion with:

  • Roderick van Schreven, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (moderator)
  • Alberto Pedro D’Alotto, Ambassador of the Argentine Republic
  • Tom McCarthy, former senior officer of the UN Centre for Human Rights/OHCHR
  • Bertrand Ramcharan, former acting High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Adrien-Claude Zoller, founder of human rights NGOs

Finally Theo himself will give some closing remarks.

For those who want to know more about his academic work there is an anthology that brings together a selection of his writings from 1966 to 1998:  http://www.brill.com/human-rights-exclusion-inclusion-principles-and-practice. And to show how he continues to contribute in practical terms see his explanation of why the Theo van Boven fund has been established and what the goals are, on You Tube: