On June 30, 2022, INHR’s Advisory Council held its inaugural meeting. The Council, chaired by Ms. Paula Schriefer, the President and CEO of the Spring Institute, provides INHR with expert advice on our strategic direction and on enhancing our strong work in humanitarian affairs, human rights, and diplomatic matters.
Joining Ms. Schriefer on the Council are Ms. Fawzia Koofi, a women’s rights activist and former Member of Parliament of Afghanistan; Mr. Clement Voule, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association; Mr. Philip French, Director of the International Olympic Committee’s Public Affairs and Social Development through Sport Department; and Mr. Joel Millman, Press Officer with the International Organization for Migration.
INHR is fortunate to welcome Advisory Council members with such deep, impressive expertise to the organization. We are already benefitting from their insights into key activities such as our student legal advisor program, our engagement with the Human Rights Council, and our global health monitoring, among others. With the Advisory Council’s ongoing support INHR is well-positioned to continue delivering cutting edge work.
We are excited to announce that INHR will be establishing an office in Brussels. The Brussels branch will deepen our engagement with the European Union on human rights issues, humanitarian affairs, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. Leading INHR’s new office is Olga Bogdan de Millo Terrazzani, a Moldovan national with over 15 years of experience working in the international arena. Her broad professional experiences include stretches at the World Meteorological Organization and the Permanent Mission of Moldova to the United Nations in Geneva as well as in academia and non-governmental organizations. We sat down to learn a little bit more about Olga.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What is your favorite part about where you are from?
I am from the Republic of Moldova, a tiny grape-shaped country in Eastern Europe. I have always been proud of my origins and have done my best to promote a positive image of my country abroad. I especially like that our people are very hospitable, kind, and generous. In addition, our food and wine are delicious, our nature is untouched, and our traditions are unique.
2. Can you summarize your professional activity?
I have sixteen years of experience in international organizations, human rights, humanitarian affairs, and climate change. Indeed, I have worked with the World Meteorological Organization and with the Moldovan foreign service as well as in academia and in various non-governmental organizations.
3. What are your key professional achievements?
At the World Meteorological Organization, I contributed to the development of a new procedure for monitoring and measuring the organization’s performance; set up the internal communication network of the organization, the Intranet; and organized various events with invited speakers, including with the UN Under-Secretary-General, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the UN75 Anniversary, Mr. Fabrizio Hochschild Drummond.
As a diplomat at the Permanent Mission of Moldova to the UN Office in Geneva, I drafted over one hundred statements relating to human rights, health, and humanitarian affairs, one of which was a joint statement on the question of the death penalty on behalf of forty-four states. I also co-chaired negotiations of resolutions on the questions of the death penalty, on youth and human rights, and on the situation of human rights in Iran.
While at the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, I was a gender focal point and contributed to legal amendments that led to the establishment of a parliamentary gender quota and paternity leave. I also helped organize seventeen visits of UN and Council of Europe officials, including the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In academia, I developed the curriculum and lectured for the first Model United Nations course in the Republic of Moldova. My teaching was wide ranging and covered UN history, its structure and functions, and its rules of procedure. I also taught research and preparation, position paper writing, public speaking and negotiations, resolution development and rules of procedure.
4. What academic experiences have shaped your professional life the most?
As Nelson Mandela once said: “education is the most powerful tool we can use to change the world.” I can recall two instances in which my academic pursuits opened doors for me.
The first time was upon completing a Global Undergraduate Exchange Program scholarship in the United States. As an exchange student I got involved in the Model United Nations and participated at conferences in Saint Louis, Chicago, and New York, while also obtaining the Outstanding Delegation Award. When I returned to the Republic of Moldova, I launched a national and then international Model UN, which was an entry point to my work in the Moldovan foreign service.
The second time was after completing my master’s in international affairs at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. My capstone research project on Gendered Impacts of Weather and Climate: Evidence from Asia, Pacific and Africa was published by the World Meteorological Organization. Through this publication I secured an internship and, subsequently, a job at the WMO.
5. What is your favorite show, movie, and book? Why?
My favorite show is “Friends” because it always cheers me up. My favorite movie is “Roman Holiday” with Audrey Hepburn because she is my favorite actress. My favorite book is “Lincoln on Leadership” by Donald T. Philips because it is a wise account of important leadership qualities. In addition, I like biographies and auto-biographies like “Enchantment: the Life of Audrey Hepburn” by Donald Spoto. In fact, it is my mother, a librarian by profession, who sparked my love for reading.
6. What do you do to relax?
I listen to music, watch the sea, and admire nature.
7. When are you happiest?
When I spend time with my family. When I am swimming. And when I see the result of my work.
8. What were you like when you were a child?
I was very active. My first teacher once said to my mother: “she’s the child that manages everything: on the table, under the table and still attentive to what I’m saying.”
9. What is your favorite food? What is your least favorite food?
Seafood and fish, as well as dishes from our traditional Moldovan cuisine, are my favorite food. I don’t like pasta and lamb.
10. What foreign languages do you know?
English, French, and Russian. I also speak Italian at a beginner level.
11. What are your hobbies?
Travelling, foreign languages, chess, and reading biographies.
12. What is your favorite quote?
“The impossible is possible, the word itself says: I’m possible”. (Audrey Hepburn)
In the March 2022 50th HRC session, INHR President Eric Richardson moderated this side event on human rights and terrorism. Case studies in Sri Lanka, North Africa, Sub Saharan Africa and the Middle East were highlighted (photo credit Afrique Education, Jean-Paul Tedga).
INHR Director Hans Hogrefe co-authors op-ed on the potential atrocities associated with U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan - especially for women, girls and minorities. https://msmagazine.com/2021/08/02/congress-biden-administration-afghanistan-women-taliban/
We are proud to announce that on July 22, 2022, the United Nations Economic and Social Council granted ECOSOC consultative status to INHR. This follows the United Nations Non-Governmental Organizations Committee recommending INHR for consultative status on May 18, 2022 and completes INHR’s journey, begun in May 2020, for official status with the United Nations. At the time of our application in May 2020, our name was UNHR Geneva – a name we changed to INHR in accordance with UN guidance.
ECOSOC consultative status will allow INHR experts to participate and deliver statements in United Nations events such as meetings of the subsidiary bodies of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, regular and special sessions of the Human Rights Council, and special events organized by the President of the United Nations General Assembly. Our experts can also now obtain badges to enter United Nations grounds in New York, Geneva, and beyond.
INHR’s enhanced access to the United Nations positions us well to deepen our engagement with the international community. One area we are particularly excited to expand is our diplomatic support to small and medium-sized States engaging with the UN in Geneva.
INHR provides trainings to State delegations on how to effectively negotiate Human Rights Council resolutions and navigate the Council’s wide array of human rights mechanisms. INHR also increases the capacity of small and medium-sized delegations through our student legal advisor program, which pairs law students well-trained in international human rights to delegations. These student legal advisors assist their delegations in negotiations and legal analyses and help ensure that their delegation’s human rights priorities are properly reflected at the Human Rights Council, the World Health Assembly, and other humanitarian, labor, health, development and human rights agencies in Geneva.
With receipt of this ECOSOC special consultative status, we hope to deepen our engagement with United Nations bodies and continue to support other NGOs and delegations in their quest to improve peace and security, human rights, and sustainable development across the globe.
As the world starts to emerge from the pandemic, many governments and institutions are maintaing restrictions on rights and liberties that were put in place because of the pandemic - for good and bad reasons. Learn about how international human rights law should address the situation in Emergencies End Eventually: How to Better Analyze Human Rights Restrictions Sparked by the COVID-19 Pandemic Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Our founder offers an opinion piece that challenges conventional wisdom and explains why the United States should consider partnership with China to make good on its 20-year investment in human rights in Afghanistan, and to not abandon Afghan women and girls to the Taliban.
For Immediate Release: December 10, 2020
Contact: Eric Richardson, Director
Phone: +1 503-442-3919
In honor of International Human Rights Day, UNHR offers the Biden Administration five recommendations to undertake in its first 100 days that will help restore U.S. leadership on human rights internationally:
1. Rejoin the UN Human Rights Council and Restore U.S. leadership in Multilateral Human Rights Institutions
The Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Human Rights Council weakened the international human rights system. The Biden Administration should move quickly to reverse this damage by re-engaging with the Human Rights Council and restoring the U.S.’s role as a core group member and key sponsor of important Human Rights Council resolutions on Internet Freedom, Freedom of Assembly and Association, and the Human Rights Situations in Syria and Sudan, among many others. The Biden Administration should also seek a seat on the Human Rights Council for the term 2022-2024. Finally, the Biden Administration should support the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights politically and financially. We should also thank those U.S. allies who protected the international human rights system during the U.S. withdrawal, including Canada, Mexico, and Australia.
Serious and substantive engagement with UN multilateral mechanisms would also involve the United States ratification of core UN Human Rights Conventions -- such as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child -- and issuance of a standing invitation for UN Special Procedures Mandate Holders to visit the United States.
2. Integrate Health Diplomacy and Human Rights
The Biden Administration should promptly reverse the Trump Administration’s withdrawal of funding for the World Health Organization. The U.S. can use its renewed funding to press the World Health Organization to address human rights obstacles that prevent access to high-quality and affordable health care services worldwide. This means advocating for increased access to sexual and reproductive rights for women and girls as well as advocating for increased access to health services for racial minorities, youths, and persons living with HIV/AIDS. It also means promoting human rights essential to combating the Covid-19 pandemic, including freedom of information, which is one of the most important tools for combatting the spread of infectious diseases, and non-discrimination in the distribution of vaccines, tests, and personal protective equipment.
3. Expand the Use of Mediation and Atrocity Prevention as Tools for Addressing Conflict Situations
Despite historic U.S. commitments to protect populations at risk of atrocity, U.S. action to prevent atrocities in Rakhine State, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Syria, and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is not impressive. Populations continue to be systematically attacked by repressive regimes and security forces. The Biden Administration should establish a coordinated negotiation and mediation unit at the State Department and USAID focused on atrocity prevention, conflict resolution, and stabilization to help fulfill U.S. commitments to protect populations at risk of atrocity. At UNHR we have been at the forefront of negotiation and atrocity prevention efforts and we know that they are underutilized tools in U.S. foreign policy. We are convinced that mediation is consistent with, and can be practiced in a manner supportive of, the U.S.’s human rights goals in conflicts from Venezuela to Afghanistan, from Bangladesh to Libya.
4. Restore the U.S.’s Global Reputation for its Commitment to the Rule of Law
The Trump Administration abrogated international agreements and disregarded the U.S. Constitution, which has caused serious damage to one of the most important sources of U.S. power: our reputation as a country governed by the rule of law. The Biden administration needs to move swiftly to restore the U.S.’s reputation as a country that respects international law and that is governed by law – regardless of whether the force of law benefits the U.S. or is occasionally to our detriment. The caricature of a U.S. president preferring authoritarian leaders to allies and resisting a peaceful transition of power has done much to erode international respect for the U.S. and its credibility to speak on human rights issues. Given this crisis of confidence, the Biden Administration cannot defer progress on rule of law in the name of political and security interests but must address this at the highest levels and as an urgent priority.
5. Incorporate Human Rights in all Aspects of Regional Diplomacy
The Biden Administration must ensure that human rights concerns are raised in every meeting with a visiting foreign minister and in every foreign visit by Biden Administration Cabinet officials. Restoring America’s reputation abroad as well as a commitment to our values demands that every Cabinet official speak to those values, not only those with foreign affairs or justice responsibilities. When a Secretary of Defense speaks about human rights in Egypt and a Secretary of Commerce raises human rights concerns in China, the world will not only recognize that the U.S. is serious about practicing its values, it will also listen. A corollary to this approach is to ensure that all Congressionally mandated positions related to human rights are filled by appointees funded and empowered to carry out the mandate of their positions.