Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rees discusses human trafficking, conflicts, and the transformative power of human rights - CDDRL

Source: Stanford University Center for Democracy, Development, and The Rule of Law

On February 8, the Program on Human Rights' at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law welcomed Madeleine Rees to speak as part of the Sanela Diana Jenkins Human Rights Series. A former UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in Bosnia, Rees now serves as the Secretary General of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) based in Geneva.

Recounting her experience in the Balkans, Rees described the failure of international organizations to properly consider the role of gender in their work. Specifically, she highlighted the UN and other organizations' inability to control rampant human trafficking in the Balkans. According to Rees, human trafficking continues to undermine women's sense of security and societal rehabilitation efforts. To remedy social insecurity in post-conflict areas, Rees suggested that international projects must comprehensively and collaboratively address the problems in these societies, especially the conditions that the most vulnerable women face.

In this same vein, Rees declared a need for greater collaboration among women's rights NGO's, human rights institutions, universities and activists. She discussed the need to break down the barriers that exist between these stakeholders. She also emphasized the role of universities like Stanford to disseminate information and conduct research that helps organizations like WILPF to succeed. Noting the daunting challenges ahead, Rees concluded by reaffirming her commitment to the fight for human rights, saying, "The good thing about being a naïve idealist is that we don't give up."

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