United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery - Decision Making

Picture of graduation in the Sankhu-Palubari Community School, Nepal © The Advocates for Human Rights Organization, USAThe UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery is subject to UN Rules and Regulations, and is managed by the United Nations Secretary-General through the OHCHR, with the advice of a Board of Trustees composed of five independent experts. The Board meets once a year to determine priorities, review its policies and practices and adopt recommendations on grants (November session).

Grants are awarded on a yearly basis, and can be renewed if conditions are met. A call for proposals is issued every year in March/April. Applications may be submitted in English, French, Spanish.

Between June and December, the Secretariat of the Fund analyses applications submitted as well as narrative, financial and audit reports on the use of the previous grants, and organizes pre-screening visits to projects of new applicants as well as regular monitoring visits to the Fund’s grantees.

The recommendations on grants adopted by the Board in December are endorsed by the Secretary-General. As a rule, grants are disbursed in the first months of the following year.

The Board of Trustees

In accordance with General Assembly resolution 46/122, 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). Board members are appointed by the Secretary-General from amongst experts with wide experience in the field of human rights, in particular contemporary forms of slavery and its effects on individuals, families and communities, and ideally with knowledge of fundraising and project management. Appointments are for a period of three years, which can be renewed once.

The composition of the current Board is as follows:

Mr. Danwood Mzikenge Chirwa (Malawi) is a professor in public law at, and a former Head of, the Department of Public Law at the University of Cape Town. He has also worked with a variety of international and African non-governmental organizations. Mr. Chirwa is the former Secretary-General of the African Network of Constitutional Lawyers, and has served as a member of board of directors for a number of organisations including the Open Democracy Advice Centre, the Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (RAPCAN), and the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI).  He is the author of various publications on international law, in particular children rights.

Mr Chirwa is the current Chair of the Board of Trustees and has been a member since 2017.

Ms. Hina Jilani (Pakistan) is a lawyer and international human rights expert specialized in defending the rights of women, children, minority groups and prisoners. Ms Jilani co-founded the first all-woman law firm in Pakistan, where she has litigated landmark cases before the courts in Pakistan and helped establish the first legal aid centre and the Dastak Charitable Trust women’s shelter. She has also served as an independent expert on UN mechanisms, including the Global Civil Society Advisory Group to UN Women (2012-2015) and as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders (2000-2008). Ms Jilani has received numerous honours in recognition of her career and has been a visiting professor at Columbia, Georgetown and Oxford universities.  In 2013, she was appointed a member of The Elders. 

Ms. Jilani has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2020.

Mr. Suamhirs Piraino-Guzman (Honduras) is a licensed behavioural psychologist specialized on trauma-informed care and mental health of survivors of contemporary forms of slavery. As a male survivor of child sexual exploitation and trafficking, he has become an outspoken public advocate and active member of survivor networks. In 2015, he was appointed by then President of the United States of America to serve as a member of the federal Advisory Council on Human Trafficking until 2018. As an international expert consultant, he has specialised on the identification, referral, prevention and mental health treatment of victims of gender-based violence. He has also worked at the Anti-Trafficking Response Network of the International Rescue Committee. Mr. Piraino-Guzman currently works at the Department of Community and Health Services of King County (Seattle, USA).

Mr. Piraino-Guzman has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2020.

Ms. Ecaterina Schilling (Republic of Moldova) is a sociologist and philologist specialized in the links between irregular migration and human trafficking. She has worked in the field of screening, interviewing and rehabilitation of trafficking survivors for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Turkey and in the United Kingdom. Ms Schilling also worked on migration issues with the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program. She has over a decade of experience in public speaking and outreach against contemporary forms of slavery, and has trained consular staff, NGOs and law enforcement officials on the identification and empowerment of trafficking survivors. She served as a Trustee and Board Member for the International Programme of Her Equality Rights and Autonomy (HERA).

Ms. Schilling has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2020.

Ms. Georgina Vaz Cabral (France) is a lawyer and an international expert on human trafficking. She has been working on anti-trafficking efforts for over 22 years with various international and national institutions including UNODC, IOM, the European Commission, Council of Europe, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights and more recently ECPAT. She served as an Adviser to the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe - OSCE (2010-2018) and was a member of the European Commission Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings (2009-2011). She is a Board member of the renowned anti-slavery NGO, Comité Contre l’Esclavage Moderne, where she started as a volunteer and then worked as a project manager (1998-2003). She is the author of several publications on trafficking and slavery-related issues including the book: “La traite des êtres humains : Réalités de l’esclavage contemporain” (Ed. LaDecouverte, 2006).

Ms. Vaz Cabral has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2017.

The Board of Trustees has met annually since 1997 to consider new or ongoing 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 modern slavery.

During its meetings, the Board holds consultations with donors. The Board also meets with project leaders of funded organisations in order to better understand the complexities that are faced by organizations providing services to victims of modern slavery. Board members participate in visits to projects in the field.

The Secretariat

The Secretariat is composed of staff members of OHCHR, who are responsible for all administrative functions of the Fund and are the first point of contact between the Board of Trustees and organizations.

The Secretariat monitors and evaluates the use of grants, including through project visits, pre-screens new projects applications, maintains contacts with other institutional donors in the field of assistance to victims of torture as well as donors to the Fund, prepares annual reports on the Fund, keeps abreast of the jurisprudence on contemporary forms of slavery and services the sessions of the Board.

The Secretariat can be reached at: slaveryfund@ohchr.org.

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