Nationality

Norway

Education

Master’s Degree in Human Rights Law, University of Essex, United Kingdom

Bachelor of Science in International Relations, London School of Economics, United Kingdom

Languages

Spanish, English, Norwegian, French

Being a child of political refugees stimulated my initial interest in human rights. This has been very important to how I approach my work; I am able to see things from the perspective of the individual or group in question.

I started my career volunteering with the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture in London, then spent four years with Amnesty International in London before joining the United Nations Development Programme in 2004 to work for one year in Nepal on a human rights project. I was keen to gain experience from the field; this was what initially attracted me to the United Nations.

I leaped out of my comfort zone and jumped on a plane to Kathmandu. I had never been to Asia and knew little about Nepal. Opening the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal in 2005 was a turning point in my career, personally and professionally. It was invigorating to work in an environment where all partners, even the armed rebel groups, were welcoming our office. This experience allowed me to appreciate the real value of what we were doing and how our work could impact people’s lives on an everyday level. This experience still inspires and motivates me to continue in this field and truly, to continue to work for the OHCHR in various capacities. I am proud to be a part of an Organization that can make a real difference in people’s lives.

After passing the National Competitive Recruitment Exam in 2006 (now called the Young Professionals Programme), I began a three-year posting with the Human Rights Treaty Bodies Branch at OHCHR in Geneva. While in Geneva, I had two children and then decided that I wanted to go back to the field. In 2010, I arrived in Panama City while my children were not even toddlers. I went straight to work in a language I had never worked in, which was undoubtedly a challenge. But this is where I believe I am the most helpful at this stage in my career.

Currently I am a Human Rights Officer in the OHCHR Central American Regional Office in Panama City. We provide technical assistance to governments, work with national human rights institutions, and provide assistance to civil society. We work very closely with the United Nations system in all of the countries that we cover. We provide input where we have added value and draw attention to opportunities for advocacy. We are in a very privileged position working within the United Nations, to view the limitations that exist and be able to push issues onto the agenda of decision makers to make change happen.

We also work with women’s organizations in countries where access to information on sexual and reproductive rights is very restricted. We are in a position where we can actually create opportunities for NGOs, victims, and others to meet and discuss relevant issues. To be the staff member that establishes that framework is extremely interesting; it motivates me and is very challenging. It is a huge responsibility. We are trusted to be effective advocates on behalf of the High Commissioner, which excites me on a daily basis.

Having a perspective of people’s lives from the field is very important when you work in the field of human rights. You have to understand how broader policy decisions impact people’s lives on the ground. However, we could not work in the field without the international human rights standards and conventions that are created and promoted at the headquarters level. That is what field work in this area is all about: translating human rights into accessible tools and working with people on the ground. We are here to work for human beings fighting for justice, equality and freedom.

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