AUWCL Professor Juan Méndez Appointed to Board of Trustees of UN Voluntary Fund for Torture Victims

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AUWCL Professor of Human Rights Juan Méndez was appointed for a first, three-year term to the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture in 2020. The UN Fund awards financial support for torture victims through grants that are distributed in an annual call for proposals. The Fund is subject to UN Rules and Regulations, and is managed by the UN Secretary-General through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Board of Trustees advises the Fund and meets twice a year to determine priorities and review its policies and practices (February session) and adopt recommendations on grants (October session).

The Board of Trustees is comprised of a Chairperson and four members representing each of the five geographical regions: Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western European and Other States Group. Board members are appointed by the Secretary-General from amongst experts with wide experience in the field of human rights, in particular torture and its effects on individuals, families and communities, as well as knowledge of fundraising and project management.

AUWCL Professor Juan Méndez was appointed Member for the Latin American group, because he is a well qualified, internationally renowned human rights lawyer, who served as UN Special Rapporteur against Torture (2010-2016) and as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide (2004-2007). His illustrious career, portrayed in his autobiography “Taking a Stand,” began as a defense lawyer of political prisoners during the military junta in Argentina, where he was held as a prisoner of conscience. He served on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and held leadership positions in Human Rights Watch and the International Center for Transitional Justice, amongst others.

He is joined on the Board of Trustees by Mr. Lawrence Murugu Mute (Kenya), who is a lecturer at the School of Law of the University of Nairobi; Dr. Vivienne Nathanson (United Kingdom), who is a medical physician and lecturer in public health; Mr. Mikolaj Pietrzak (Poland), who is a partner in the Pietrzak & Sidor Law Office in Warsaw, and the Dean of the Warsaw Bar Association; and Ms. Sara Hossain (Bangladesh), who is a lawyer at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh specializing in constitutional and public interest law, and gender equality and a partner at a Law firm in Dhaka.

The Board of Trustees has met annually since 1983 to consider project applications, approve the extension of grants, set guidelines for applicants including admissibility criteria and consider policy issues in relation to the Fund and the rehabilitation of victims of torture. The Board engages directly with donors as well as project leaders of funded organizations. In these latest meetings, the Board strives to better understand the complexities that are faced by organizations providing services to victims of torture. Board members participate in visits to projects in the field.