Biographies of the participants of the 2005 conference, Human Rights Defenders on the Frontlines of Freedom: Advancing Security and the Rule of Law
Mufti Makaarim Al-Akhlaq
(Indonesia) is Secretary General of Kontras, the Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence in Jakarta. Kontras has done advocacy work for victims of violence since 1998. In addition to his work with Kontras, Makaarim Al-Akhlaq is a coordinator for the Youth Forum on Inter-Religious Dialogue. He has also been a member of the Working Committee of Lakpesdam Nahdatul Ulama (Indonesia's largest Islamic organization) Greater Jakarta, and has been a volunteer for the education and research division of the Indonesian Commission for Reconciliation and Peace. Makaarim Al-Akhlaq has written several books and articles on topics such as the Indonesian police, human rights violations in Indonesia, Islam and modernity, the relationship between religion and state, and political rights in Islam.
(Canada/UN) is an internationally renowned judge and lawyer who became the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2004. She previously served as a judge for the Supreme Court of Canada, and gained fame for her role as chief prosecutor during the International Criminal Tribunals relating to war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Born in Montreal, Arbour obtained a degree in civil law from the University of Montreal and completed post-graduate studies at the University of Ottawa. In the following years she became vice-president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and then the associate dean at Osgoode Hall Law School. In 1987 she was appointed to the Supreme Court of Ontario, and in 1990 she was named to the Court of Appeal for Ontario. In 1995 she was responsible for an inquiry pertaining to conditions at the Prison for Women in Kingston, Ontario. It was in February 1996 that the Security Council of the United Nations selected Louise Arbour as chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals. She then became Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour.
(Switzerland) has been the Executive Director of the International Council on Human Rights Policy since 1997. He is a board member of the Ethical Globalisation Initiative (New York) and CAFOD (London). He is also a member of the steering group of 3-D Human Rights and Trade (Geneva) and chair of the expert group on human rights of the Global Governance Initiative (World Economic Forum and the Brookings Institution). From 1991 to 1997, Archer was Policy Coordinator and then Senior Policy Adviser at Christian Aid in London. Prior to occupying these positions, he worked for ten years as Desk Officer for the Asia Programme at the Catholic Institute for International Relations. Additionally, Archer has taught and done research in Madagascar, and is the author of books on Madagascar and South Africa.
(USA/Carter Center) is Senior Program Associate for Human Rights at The Carter Center. As head of Center's human rights office, Barr initiates interventions by President and Mrs. Carter in response to human rights violations around the world and undertakes projects in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other international partners. Barr has contributed to Democracy Program rule of law, civil society, and election projects in Guyana, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Zambia, and Sierra Leone, where she was the director of the Carter Center's election observation delegation. Before coming to the Center, Barr worked with local human rights and governance organizations as a consultant to The Asia Foundation and the International Human Rights Law Group in Cambodia and the National Democratic Institute and PACT in Ethiopia. She has taught law at the University of Peshawar and worked for local legal aid agencies in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
(USA) is Deputy Director for Programs and the Director of Rule of Law and Human Rights Programs at Freedom House. Davis serves as Director for a global research, technical assistance, and training project promoting human rights and the rule of law. She also assists the Director of Programs in coordinating Freedom House's major program initiatives and overseas offices. She is a lawyer with over fifteen years of legal and democracy building experience. Prior to Freedom House, she led several assessment missions to Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo to design assistance programs to support civil society, democratic governance, and human rights. From 1994 to 1999, Davis directed two projects in Albania, a legal reform project with the American Bar Association's Central and Eastern European Law Initiative in 1994-95, and a civil society/democracy project with the ORT Albania Democracy Network Program from 1995 to 1999.
(Russia) is President of the Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, a Moscow-based organization that develops mechanisms for public influence in government decision-making and analyzes democratic institution building, human rights, and civil society development. He has worked with and served as a consultant to a number of international NGOs, as well as the State Duma and the United States Agency for International Development. Dr. Dzhibladze is an editor of "Legislative Process in the State Duma: Human Rights Analysis," a monthly newsletter published by his Center and is the author of numerous publications on racism, human rights, and non-governmental organizations. Since the mid-1980s, he has been actively engaged in social movements starting with his work as an anti-nuclear activist, working in conflict resolution, promoting non-violent social change, developing NGOs, doing human rights work, and later participating in the movement against the war in Chechnya.
(Colombia) has been the Director of the Colombia Commission of Jurists since its creation in 1988. From 1999 to 2002 he was also the Special Representative for Equatorial Guinea in the United Nations' Human Rights Commission. Gallon was a visiting fellow at the Kellogg Institute at the University of Notre Dame from 1998 to 1999 and has been a professor of human rights and constitutional law at universities in Bogota since 1979. He is also the author of several publications on the rule of law and human rights.
(USA) is the Director of International Programs & Human Rights Defenders Program at Human Rights First, where he supervises defender campaigns that include overseas missions, diplomatic advocacy, public education, and grassroots lobbying. Before joining Human Rights First, he worked as a researcher for the Middle East Department of Amnesty International in London from 1985 to 1991. He has also served as human rights project officer of Birzeit University in the West Bank. In 2000-2001, Hicks was a Senior Fellow in the Jennings Randolph Fellowship Program of the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. He is the author of many reports and scholarly articles. He has taught Human Rights in the Middle East at Fordham Law School.
(USA) is Global Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), and is responsible for coordinating HRW's advocacy team and providing direction to HRW's advocacy worldwide. Prior to joining HRW in January 2005, Hicks served as Director of the Office for Returns and Communities in the UN mission in Kosovo. She has worked previously as Director of Programs and General Counsel for the International Human Rights Law Group (now Global Rights), where she managed more than a dozen country programs. Before joining the Law Group, Hicks was the Deputy High Representative for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the highest-ranking international official responsible for implementation of the human rights aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement. Earlier, Hicks had worked as a human rights advisor in the office of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the former Yugoslavia. She has acted as an expert consultant for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on numerous occasions, including advising on the establishment of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She has also served as clinical professor human rights and refugee law at the University of Minnesota Law School. As senior counsel at Minnesota's largest private law firm, Hicks specialized in international litigation practice and legal malpractice defense. She is admitted to the bars of Washington DC and Minnesota, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Saad Eddin Ibrahim
(Egypt) is a human rights activist and professor of sociology at the American University of Cairo. In 1988, Dr. Ibrahim founded the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, a research and advocacy institute in Cairo, concerned with issues of democratization and political and social development. He remains the director and chairman of the center's board of trustees. In the summer of 2000 he and 27 of his colleagues were arrested and tried before a state security court on several charges allegedly connected to their work. All 28 defendants were found guilty on some of these charges and several were sent to jail. Dr. Ibrahim was sentenced to a seven-year term. He was ultimately acquitted of all charges and released in March 2003.
(Indonesia) is a founder and the Executive Secretary of Imparsial, the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor, which monitors the situation of human rights in Indonesia, focusing on security sector reform, the protection of human rights defenders and government policy reform on human rights (terrorism, conflict areas, and the death penalty). Indarti, a lawyer, is also the coordinator of Imparsial's Human Rights Defenders Protection Division. She was head of the Labor Division of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation and previously worked for the Surabaya Legal Aid Institute, a branch of the Foundation, where she worked on issues such as labor and peasant movement, and marginalized people and women. In 2002 Indarti worked at the Commission for the Disappearance and Victims of Violence (Kontras).
(Pakistan/UN) is the United Nations Special Representative to the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders. She has practiced law since 1979 and opened the first women's law firm in Pakistan in 1980. She specializes in human rights litigation, and is especially concerned with the human rights of women, children, minorities, and prisoners. She has conducted several cases that have become landmarks in setting human rights standards in Pakistan. As an avid social activist, she was a founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Women's Action Forum. Over the past two decades, she has been involved with the United Nations Center for Human Rights, the Carter Center, and the UN Conference on Women. She has received several awards for her human rights work from organizations such as the American Bar Association and Human Rights Watch.
(Uzbekistan) is the founder and Chair of the Legal Aid Society of Uzbekistan, the country's leading organization investigating high-profile human rights abuses. Additionally, as the senior attorney of the Tashkent Bar, Kamalova directs 35 lawyers who work to protect human rights in civil and criminal cases by providing consultations to marginalized persons. Kamalova has also served as an expert for the Ombudsman where she reviewed and evaluated complaints and provided legal opinions. She has done legal research relating to the state of human rights in Uzbekistan, including issues such as migrants, refugees, stateless persons, juvenile justice, women's rights, child labor, and the implementation of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. She has also analyzed the legislation of Uzbekistan on these topics and engaged in activities directed at bringing Uzbek legislation into accordance with international human rights standards.
Harold Hongju Koh
(USA) is Dean and Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law at Yale Law School, where he has taught since 1985, and has served as the fifteenth Dean since July 2004. From 1998 to 2001, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Professor Koh previously served as law clerk to Judge Malcolm Richard Wilkey of the D.C. Circuit (1980-81), and Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court (1981-82). Before coming to Yale, he practiced law at the Washington D.C. law firm of Covington and Burling and at the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice. Professor Koh is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford (where he was 1997 Waynflete Lecturer), and has been a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. He is an Overseer of Harvard University and a member of the American Law Institute. He has served as an Editor of the American Journal of International Law and the Foundation Press Casebook Series. He sits on the boards of directors of the National Democratic Institute, Human Rights First, and Human Rights in China and has received more than twenty awards for his human rights work. Additionally, Professor Koh has written more than 80 articles and authored or co-authored eight books, on topics such as international law and politics and the human rights of persons with intellectual disabilities.
(Burma) is a founder and Joint Secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an organization that documents and disseminates information on the situation of political prisoners in Burma and does advocacy work. Kyi coordinates the association's Free Political Prisoners Campaign Committee. After Kyi's first arrest in 1989, he escaped, went into hiding and became a central executive committee member of All Burma Federation of Student Unions. In 1990 he was imprisoned again for three years and forced to do hard labor. Upon his release, military intelligence officers regularly brought Kyi to interrogation centers in unsuccessful attempts to persuade him to become an informer. Following his refusals, he was arrested for a third time and not released for five years, again forced to do hard labor and spending one of the years in solitary confinement. Kyi decided in 1999 that it was too dangerous to live in Burma, and fled to the Thai-Burma border. Kyi writes articles for the Irrawaddy magazine and some monthly journals in both English and Burmese. Kyi uses his participation in numerous international conferences, seminars, and workshops to speak about the human rights situation in Burma.
(Ireland) is the Director of Front Line, the international foundation for the protection of human rights defenders. She has a background of 30 years experience in human rights. Lawlor set up Front Line in 2001 to focus solely on supporting and defending human rights defenders at risk. As director, she represents the organization and has a key role in its development. Prior to Front Line, she was director of the Irish section of Amnesty International for 12 years and before that was a board member for 15 years, during which she served as chair from 1983-1987. She took the Irish section of Amnesty from a membership of less than a hundred with no staff to 14,000 members and 13 staff. She has a bachelor's degree in philosophy and psychology and postgraduate degrees in personnel management and Montessori teaching.
(Russia) is the Chairperson of a recently founded human rights think-tank, DEMOS Center for Information and Research, based in Moscow, Russia. DEMOS helps Russian civic society solve the most pressing problems in the fields of human rights and democracy. Additionally, DEMOS monitors the status of human rights and democracy across Russia, conducts research on particularly relevant problems, tests and disseminates advanced strategies and methods of analytical work, and develops recommendations that are distributed to states agencies, public organizations, and expert bodies. In addition to her work at DEMOS, Lokshina is a Chechnya/North Caucasus researcher for the International Helsinki Federation on human rights. Lokshina is the author of numerous publications on topics including the role of international organizations in the Chechen conflict, the effects of the fight against terror on human rights in Russia, and hate speech in Russian media.
(Peru) was a Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Peru. Today she is a member of the Legal Defense Institute. She was a member of the Working Group representing the National Coordinator for Human Rights, a coalition of 65 human rights organizations in the country. As a part of the Working Group, Macher helped design the blueprint for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established by transition government on December 29, 2000. From 1997 to 2001, she was the Executive Secretary for the National Coordinator for Human Rights. She was also the Civil Society representative for the Dialogue Table of the Organization of American States, the body that negotiated the return of democracy to the country. From 1987 to 1993, Macher was the Vice President of the International Executive Committee of Amnesty International.
(UN) is Assistant to Hina Jilani, the U.N. Secretary General's Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders. As such, he is also a Staff Member with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Majekodunmi's human rights experience includes volunteer work with various European NGOs supporting persons in detention, children living on the streets and persons with disabilities. He has worked with the OHCHR in Rwanda and Nepal and with UNICEF in Burundi and at its research centre in Florence, Italy. As an international expert in the field, Majekodunmi has written extensively on human rights monitoring in relation to counterterrorism and emergency situations, armed conflict and peacekeeping, refugees and IDPs, children, the media and numerous other issues. He is also a human rights monitoring trainer and course instructor, speaker and lecturer, with several keynote addresses to his record.
(Lebanon) is the EU Jean Monnet Professor in European Law at St. Joseph's University in Beirut and the director of the university's Centre for the Study of the European Union, which the EU recognizes as a "Centre of Excellence." Mallat is also an international legal practitioner who has litigated a number of well-publicizes cases, including a case against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the disappearance of Imam Musa Sadr in Libya. In 2000 Mallat helped set up Amnesty International's regional office in Beirut, for which he is currently a legal counsel. In 1996 he established Indict, the international NGO that worked to bring Saddam Hussein and his aides to justice. Mallat also formed several networks of non-violent dissidents, notably in Iraq in the 1990s and in the Middle East and Lebanon in the past two years and he has been active in the Lebanese Cedar Revolution. Additionally, he is the author or editor of more than books.
(Zimbabwe) is the founding chairman and Executive Director of The Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa, a regional human rights and governance institute. He also serves as secretary to the Southern African Forum Against Corruption, Southern African Media Network Against Corruption and the Southern African Development Community Regional Roundtable on Ethics and Governance. Matsheza has held various posts in the Zimbabwe Public Service including Deputy Director of Information and Under Secretary for Policy and Legislation in the Ministry of Home Affairs. He has also served as a diplomat in Addis Ababa, Bonn, and Brussels. From 1999-2001 Matsheza was chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network. Matsheza has also worked for The Carter Center monitoring elections in Zambia and Guyana. Additionally, he has produced publications, briefing documents, and seminar papers on ethics, human rights, and anti-corruption.
(USA) has been the Executive Director of Global Rights since September 1994. McDougall was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 1999 for her work on behalf of international human rights. In 1998, she was elected to serve as an independent expert on the United Nations treaty body that oversees the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. At its 1996 session, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights elected her to serve a four-year term as a member (alternate) of the U.N. Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities of the Human Rights commission. In that capacity, McDougall also served as special rapporteur on the issue of systematic rape, sexual slavery, and slavery-like practices in armed conflict. She also served as one of five international members of South Africa's 16-member Independent Electoral Commission that successfully organized and administered that country's first nonracial elections. For the last 14 years of the apartheid era, she gave direct assistance to the defense of thousands of political prisoners in South Africa and Namibia by financing their defense and collaborating with the attorneys. In 1989, she founded the Commission of Independence for Namibia, a bipartisan group of 31 distinguished Americans who monitored the 12-month process to independence mandated by the United Nations.
(Nigeria) is the founder and Executive Director of the Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC), a nongovernmental organization concerned with the promotion and protection of economic, social, and cultural rights in Nigeria. Morka served as the Washington, D.C.-based International Human Rights Law Group's Legal Officer for Africa, and was the Legal Director of Nigeria's Civil Liberties Organisation. He has chaired the U.N. Expert Seminar on Development-Based Involuntary Displacements, served as an expert participant in the Third International Consultation on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, presented testimony before the United States Congress and meets regularly with policy makers to raise human rights concerns. Morka served as Chair of the Body Shop International Human Rights Award Jury, and is currently a member of the UNAIDS' Global Reference Group on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights.
Kaari Betty Murungi
(Kenya) has served as Director of Urgent Action Fund-Africa since its formation in 2001. Since 1998, she has also served as legal advisor to the Women's Human Rights Program at Rights and Democracy, Montreal, Canada. As a member of the International Coalition for an International Criminal Court, Murungi and others advocated extensively for the inclusion of a gender perspective in the establishment of the International Criminal Court and in the work of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. She serves on the board of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the Women's Initiative for Gender Justice at the International Criminal Court (Den Haag) and is a past board member of The Federation of Women Lawyers-Kenya. Murungi is a lawyer by profession and has extensive experience in the human rights of women; gender and governance.
(USA) is the Executive Director of Human Rights First. In 1980, Posner played a key role in proposing and campaigning for the first U.S. law providing for political asylum, which became part of the Refugee Act of 1980. Posner proposed, drafted, and campaigned for the Torture Victim Protection Act, a federal statute that was designed to give victims of the most serious human rights crimes anywhere in the world a remedy in U.S. courts. The TVPA was signed into law in 1992. Before joining Human Rights First, he was a lawyer with Sonnenschein, Nath, & Rosenthal in Chicago. He lectured at Yale Law School from 1981 to 1984 and has been a visiting lecturer at Columbia University Law School since 1984.
(USA) is Special Adviser to the President of the International Crisis Group, an organization with over 100 staff members on five continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict. Prendergast has focused most of his twenty-year career on conflict resolution in Africa and shaping U.S. foreign policy toward the region. He worked for the Clinton administration from 1996-2001, and has worked for a variety of NGOs and think tanks in African and the U.S. In addition to peacemaking, Prendergast has also focused on human rights promotion and humanitarian actions. He has authored or co-authored seven books on Africa.
(USA/Carter Center) was formerly the Assistant Director for Human Rights at The Carter Center until 2000 and is now Senior Advisor for the Human Rights Defenders Policy Forum. She represented the Center in negotiations to draft the UN Declaration of Human Rights Defenders and was an expert member of the U.S. delegation to the Commission on Human Rights in 2000 where she represented the United States in negotiations to create the mandate for the Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders.
Jorge Santistevan de Noriega
(Peru) is a partner at Santistevan de Noriega, & Asociados, Lima, and a law Professor in the Master's Program on Judicial Policy, Catholic University of Peru, Judicial Academy of Peru, and Lima University Law School. Santistevan is also an international consultant and arbitrator. He has been a member of the Peruvian Law Academy since 2004. He was a member of the Anti-Corruption Initiative Group, appointed by President Paniagua, during the transition of the government of Peru in 2001. He participated as a Constitutional Law specialist in the National Commission to Propose the Basis for Peru's Constitutional Reform, appointed by the Minister of Justice of the transitional government of Peru in 2001. From 1996 to 2000, after being elected by parliament, Santistevan served as the First National Ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo) of Peru, elected by the parliament. Between 1981 and 1991 Santistevan was a Representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in various Latin American countries and from 1975 to 1981 he served as an International Labour Office expert in Panama and Costa Rica. Santistevan is widely published and has received several international awards for his juridical and human rights work.
(USA), since 1987, has been Deputy Director of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), a national organization that mobilizes health professionals to advance the health and dignity of all people through action that promotes respect for, protection of and fulfillment of human rights. Sirkin has organized health and human rights investigations to dozens of countries, including recent documentation of genocide and systematic rape in Darfur, Sudan, and PHR's exhumations of mass graves in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda for the International Criminal Tribunals. Sirkin co-developed and directed the first post-graduate course in medicine and human rights initiated at Harvard Medical School in 1992. She is a strategist in PHR's Health Action AIDS campaign, and in 2004, launched its Uganda project that supports the development of a Ugandan health professional campaign for effective prevention and treatment. Sirkin also served from 1992-2001 for PHR as a member of the Coordination Committee of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, the co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Peace. She has authored and edited numerous reports and articles on the medical consequences of human rights violations, physical evidence of human rights abuses, and physician complicity in violations.
(Indonesia) is from Malang, East Java, where she was an experienced labor activist when she met and married a young human rights lawyer named Munir, who became one of Indonesia's leading human rights defenders before he was fatally poisoned while on a flight to Amsterdam in September 2004. Since then, Suciwati's efforts to ensure that Munir's killers are identified and prosecuted have included meetings with the Indonesian president and European parliamentarians, statements to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, and strong critiques of the ongoing investigation. She has received anonymous threats warning her to cease her advocacy efforts, but says she is used to receiving-and ignoring-and threats. Through her efforts President Yudhoyono appointed an independent fact-finding team that, despite a limited mandate, has pushed far beyond the initial police investigation and identified suspects from among the airline staff. The team is currently striving to get access to top intelligence officials thought to have been in contact with the suspects around the time of Munir's death.
Dr. V. Suresh
(India) is General Secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties, a national human rights organization of its Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry State units, where he has conducted inquiries into human rights abuses, including civil liberties violations, caste and communal violence, and state repression. Dr. Suresh is a practicing lawyer in the Madras High Court. He has worked as an activist with the Adivasis (indigenous) people of Maharashtra on issues of environmental protections and land and earning rights. As a founder of the Organizational Development and Excellence Consultants, Dr. Suresh guides organizations and governmental institutions in change efforts, strategic planning, and civic engagement processes. He also utilizes experiential methods in human rights training and evolving curricula for peace training with children. In 2004 he was appointed as Advisor for the Tamil Nadu state to the Supreme Court Commissioner for Food Security. Dr. Suresh has authored a book on criminal law with his advocate wife, Nagasaila, and is currently completing the Halsbury's Laws of India Criminal Law Volume.
(Thailand) has been the director of the Bangkok-based Peace and Human Rights Resource Center since 2000 and a board member of Amnesty International-Thailand since 2003. Additionally, he has been the Vice President for the Campaign for Popular Democracy and the Secretary of Dignity International-Asia since 2001. Verawongse is a board member of the Thai Coalition for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, the Coordinating Committee of Human Rights Organizations of Thailand, the 14 October Foundation, and the South East Asian Committee for Advocacy. From 1991 to 2000 Verawongse was the Secretary for the Peace and Human Rights Program of the Asian Cultural Forum on Development. He was also the Coordinator of the Asia Pacific Human Rights NGOs Facilitating Team from 1993 to 2001. In the 1980s Verawongse was the Secretary General of two student organizations: the Asian Students Association and the Student Federation of Thailand.