Victims' Rights Advocate
As the United Nations Victims’ Rights Advocate, Ms. Connors supports an integrated, strategic response to victim assistance in coordination with United Nations system actors with responsibility for assisting victims. She works with government institutions, civil society, and national and legal and human rights organizations to build networks of support and to help ensure that the full effect of local laws, including remedies for victims, are brought to bear.
Prior to this role, she was International Advocacy Director Law and Policy, at Amnesty International, and from 1996 to 2015, held progressively senior posts in the United Nations, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Earlier, she was a law teacher at universities in Australia and the United Kingdom.
The role of the Victims’ Rights Advocate is to put the rights of victims, their experiences, and their needs at the forefront of the UN’s fight against sexual exploitation and abuse. Victims of such wrongs often suffer severe trauma. The VRA seeks to ensure that this is acknowledged, that support and assistance is provided in line with each victim’s individual needs, as well as to raise the voices of victims who are often forgotten.
The VRA works with all parts of the UN system, including agencies, funds and programmes at their headquarters and in the field, Member States, national human rights institutions, civil society, the media and others, to make sure that an integrated response to victim assistance in line with the Secretary-General’s strategy and the UN strategy on assistance and support to victims adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 (A/RES/62/214, Annex) is taken.
The VRA regularly visits countries with UN presences to gain firsthand understanding of how sexual exploitation and abuse are addressed. She connects with victims directly, to hear about their individual needs and learn from them so the design of prevention and response to sexual exploitation and abuse is victim-centred.