The United Nations has developed a strong focus on gender balance and gender sensitivity throughout all of its work. Yet the UN itself has significant problems in relation to gender within its Secretariat, Funds, Programmes and Agencies. Despite the UN Charter arguably setting out legal obligations to ensure gender parity within the UN and initiatives aimed at addressing the lack of gender parity, there have been few concrete changes to the lack of gender parity at senior levels. That impacts on the UN’s work, and on its legitimacy and credibility. This panel discussion will focus on why the UN remains deeply unequal in relation to gender, and suggest methods for addressing this issue. The event is part of the AHRC-funded UN Gender Network, which brings together academics, civil society, member states and UN staff to achieve a deep understanding of the causes and impact of gender inequality within the UN and the impact this has on its global leadership and work.
About the speakers
Jane Connors is the inaugural Victims’ Rights Advocate for the United Nations and Assistant Secretary-General and Visiting Professor in Practice at the Centre for Women, Peace and Security. Prior to that she was the International Advocacy Director (Law and Policy) of Amnesty International, based in Geneva. From 1996 to 2015 she worked in various positions at the United Nations, including at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Before joining the United Nations, she held academic posts in the UK and Australia, including 14 years at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London,She has published widely on United Nations human rights mechanisms, the human rights of women, and violence against women and children.
Professor Aoife O’Donoghue joined Durham Law School in 2007. Her research focuses on public international law with a particular interest in global governance, legal theory and feminism. Professor O'Donoghue queries the structures developed to enable international law to regulate political governance. Her work examines constitutionalism, tyranny, legal theory and international legal history. She also researches the interaction between international law and feminism, particularly within institutions such as the UN and the process of feminist judging. Professor O'Donoghue has published a number of articles on global constitutionalisation, constitutionalism, tyranny, feminism, good offices, trade, neutrality as well as the role of law in conflict. Her monograph centres on constitutionalism within international law. With Máiréad Enright of Birmingham Law School and Julie McCandless of LSE, she is Co-Director of the Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project. Professor O'Donoghue works with Colin Murray, Sylvia de Mars and Ben TC Warwick on Constitutional Conundrums a project that examines constitutional change, including Brexit and repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998, on Northern Ireland. Aoife also works with Prof Rosa Freedman from Reading Law School on an AHRC funded project to create a UN Gender Network which focuses on reform within the UN Secretariat and Agencies to establish gender equality.
Rosalyn Park is the Women’s Human Rights Program Director at The Advocates for Human Rights. She has experience in the area of human rights monitoring, violence against women, death penalty abolition, UN advocacy, and volunteer management. She has served as an expert for NGOs, IGOs and foreign governments on women’s human rights and currently is a member of the UN Gender Network, an international coalition established to examine gender equality policies within the UN. Ms Park has conducted and led monitoring missions in Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Montenegro and Sierra Leone, and she conducts advocacy before UN treat- and charter-based bodies using The Advocates’ special consultative status. She frequently develops and conducts trainings for lawyers, human rights defenders and systems actors locally and internationally. In addition, she teaches global gender violence at the University of Minnesota.
Dr Navi Pillay is a distinguished expert on international criminal law and human rights. She served as the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations from 2008 to 2014. Prior to that, she was a judge at the International Criminal Court in The Hague from 2003 to 2008. From 1995 to 2003, she was, as the first and then only woman, judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, whose Presidency she held for four years. In 1988, Dr Pillay was awarded the degree of Doctor of Juridical Science at Harvard Law School. In 1995, after the end of Apartheid, she worked at the Supreme Court of South Africa as a limited-term judge. Dr Pillay has championed many human rights issues with which she herself had direct experience, having grown up under the Apartheid regime in South Africa. She plays an active role in numerous human rights organizations. Among other roles, she is the co-founder of "Equality Now", an international women’s rights organization.
Professor Christine Chinkin CMG FBA is Emerita Professor of International Law and founding Director of the Centre for Women, Peace and Security. She has been a consultant or advisor to UN bodies on a range of issues including human trafficking gender-based persecution in armed conflict, peace agreements and gender and violence against women. She was a member of the UN fact-finding missions to Gaza in 2007 (Beit Hanoun) and 2009 (the Goldstone Report). Professor Chinkin is a leading expert on the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Audio recording of the event
This event is being held as part of the AHRC-funded United Nations Gender Network, which brings academics, civil society, member states and the UN Secretariat itself together in a spirit of conversation and collaboration. Led by Dr Aoife O'Donoghue and Professor Rosa Freedman, the Network aims to achieve a deep understanding of the causes and impact of gender inequality within the UN and the impact this has on its leadership of the Sustainable Development Goals and broader development policy.