I carry out research on different issues related to HRDs and HRD protection, especially EU protection, identify relevant stakeholders, conduct interviews in person or by telephone or e-mail, and write reports which summarize findings and make recommendations. On the basis of findings, I lobby for action to address the problems identified. Three of my reports were cited in a November 2013 article in the Journal of Human Rights Practice.
For Amnesty International, I wrote a handbook for diplomats on attending trials involving HRDs in Russia. On the basis of interviews with Russian HRDs and lawyers and experienced diplomats, the handbook recommends the types of trials which diplomats should prioritize and ways they can make their work as effective as possible, ensuring positive outcomes for HRDs. The handbook has received positive evaluations from diplomats.
An example is the research I did for Amnesty International on the European Union's implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. For this research, I interviewed dozens of diplomats and human rights defenders in Guatemala, Ethiopia, Russia, Tunisia and Turkey. This research resulted in two reports. The first report, entitled Ensuring Protection? The European Union and Human Rights Defenders was published in May 2007. The second report, entitled European Union: Rising to the Challenge of Protecting Human Rights Defenders was published in June 2008. These reports contained recommendations to the EU and its member states to address the weaknesses identified during the assessment.
In Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, I monitored the situation of HRDs and looked in detail into specific cases of violations of their rights, visiting areas such as Gaza, Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem and Jerusalem in the Occupied Territories and Haifa and Tel Aviv in Israel. Fact-finding led to lobbying meetings with local representatives of the European Union and member states.
In January 2008, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs commissioned me to work out the modalities of their new award, the Human Rights Defenders Tulip. I researched and wrote a fifteen-page report concerning criteria for nominees, the method of publicizing the award and calling for nominations, the assessment process leading to the selection of the winner, the content of the prize, the way the prize would be presented, and the structure for administering the award.
Meeting with the local NGO la Voix des Sans Voix, Kinshasa, DRC
In November 2005, I carried out a week-long mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo for the Irish organization Front Line to research the support and protection given to local human rights defenders by the European Union. The mission was carried out in collaboration with Amnesty International. I presented the findings and recommendations to improve support to local HRDs to an EU Heads of Mission meeting. A report was published by Front Line and the recommendations formed the basis of lobbying efforts by Amnesty International in 2006.
Further back, in 1994, I spent half a year as an electoral observer as part of the United Nations Operation in Mozambique, researching the political rights rights situation in the field, reporting on them, and taking measures to address and prevent violations.