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Human Rights Law Professor joins top UN panel – University of Reading

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Human Rights Law Professor joins top UN panel

Release Date 28 February 2019

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A Human Rights Law Professor who successfully campaigned for better safeguarding for children around the world has joined the United Nations board to tackle sexual exploitation and abuse.

Professor Rosa Freedman, who heads up the University of Reading’s Global Development Division was invited by the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres to serve on the newly established Civil Society Advisory Board on prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse.

The aim of the Board is to foster closer interaction with civil society and external experts and organizations as part of the United Nations efforts to combat sexual exploitation and abuse. 

Safeguarding children in war zones

Children in conflict zones have already benefited from new safeguarding standards for peacekeepers championed by Prof Freedman.

An ongoing collaboration with Keeping Children Safe, a global network of organisations committed to implementing International Child Safeguarding Standards, has helped better to protect many tens of millions at risk of sexual exploitation and abuse in conflict and crisis zones. The collaboration has resulted in several co-authored reports and invitations to advise key actors and institutions, including Keeping Children Safe CEO Sarah Blakemore addressing the Security Council in September.

Following work in Africa, Central and South America, Professor Rosa Freedman from the School of Law at the University of Reading has developed the Safeguarding Children in Peacekeeping Project with Keeping Children Safe to design and implement evidence-based interventions to safeguard children from exploitation and abuse in the context of peacekeeping missions. 

Read the report Protection of Civilians and Safeguarding Children here:

Professor Dominik Zaum, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University of Reading said:

“We are delighted that Professor Rosa Freedman has been invited to join the UN Secretary-General’s advisory board on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. The invitation is recognition of her landmark work on preventing sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers in conflict zones. 

“Professor Freedman’s work with Keeping Children Safe is an example how academic research and partnerships between researchers and NGOs and policymaker can make a real difference to the world. Her work has improved conditions for children and vulnerable adults in conflict zones all around the world. I am confident that in her role on the Secretary-General’s advisory board she can help to embed best practice across the United Nations.”

Peacekeeping accountability

In January, Professor Freedman spoke in two high profile United Nations events about steps that peacekeeping forces can take to be accountable in conflict zones.

Prof Freedman joined the UK Mission to the UN in New York at a meeting on Sexual Abuse and Exploitation with United Nations Secretary General Victim’s rights advocate Jane Connors and representatives UNICEF. The meeting focused on justice and accountability in peacekeeping operations following the report with Keeping Children Safe.

Rosa also visited Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to speak at the United Nation Peacekeeping Ministerial Preparatory Meeting to discuss “Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: Strengthening victim assistance and policy coherence”.  The meeting set out a proposal for the Action for Peacekeeping initiative (A4P) which is campaigning for the 2019 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial in New York.

Public lecture

Professor Freedman is an expert in United Nations and in particular on the Human Rights Council. In October 2018, Freedman delivered a public lecture about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which celebrated its 70th anniversary.

You can watch Prof Freedman's public lecture here:

Professor Freedman’s latest publication with Keeping Children Safe:

Blakemore, S., Freedman, R. and Lemay-Hébert, N. (2019) Child safeguarding in a peacekeeping context: lessons from Liberia. Development in Practice. ISSN 1364-9213 (In Press)

Read more about Rosa’s work for the Safeguarding Children in Peacekeeping Project at:


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