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UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture - Decision Making

© Atelier peinture de Claire Harel, association Mana, France

The UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture 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 twice a year to determine priorities and review its policies and practices (February session) and adopt recommendations on grants (October session).

Grants are awarded on a yearly basis, and are renewable. A call for proposals is issued every year in January, with a deadline of 1 March. Applications may be submitted in English, French, and Spanish, ensuring access for small and medium organizations located in various regions.

Between April and October, 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 new applicants as well as regular monitoring visits to grantees.

The recommendations on grants adopted by the Board in October are then to be endorsed by the Secretary-General. As a rule, grants are disbursed in January, for the 12 months ahead.

The Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees has met annually since 1983 to consider new or ongoing project applications, approve the extension of grants, set guidelines for applicants including admissibility criteria and consider policy issues for administration of the Fund.

During its meetings, the Board has also holds ad hoc consultations with donors. The Board sometimes 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 torture. In a number of instances members of the Board visit projects in the field. Outside of annual meetings, Board members have focused on fund-raising initiatives, leading over time to substantial increases in contributions from donor Governments. Today, the Fund has risen to one of the largest humanitarian trust funds managed by the United Nations.

In accordance with resolution 36/151, 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 Group. Board members are appointed by the Secretary-General from amongst experts with wide experience in the field of human rights, in particular torture 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:

Ms. Mercedes Doretti is a forensic anthropologist, currently full-time researcher of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF), Coordinator of the EAAF’s New York’s office and responsible for institutional planning and fund-raising. She has worked extensively in exhumations and analysis of remains in Argentina. She serves as a forensic consultant and expert witness for judiciary systems, commissions of enquiry commission and international tribunals in different countries, including in El Salvador (1992); Croatia (1993); Haiti (1997 and 1998); DRC (1997 and 1998), Bosnia (1998 and 1999); Ivory Coast (2001 and 2002).

Ms. Doretti has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2008 and is its Chairperson since 2010.

Ms. Maria Cristina de Mendonca, a doctor in forensic medicine, is the Head of the Department of Forensic Pathology at the Portuguese National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, in Lisbon, and the head of the Portuguese Disaster Victim Identification Team. She is an assistant professor of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra and regularly lectures in other universities. A member of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), Ms. de Mendoca has extensive experience as forensic expert for International Commissions of Inquiries and served as an expert for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Ms. de Mendoca has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2011.

Mr. Morad El-Shazly, a psychiatrist, published a number of books and held various academic posts, including at King's College, Aberdeen University, King Saud University, and Birmingham University. He was a member of Physicians for Human Rights-UK and an advisor to Reprieve-UK. He currently serves as a consultant psychiatrist for mental health tribunals in the UK and runs a private practice in his hometown of Alexandria, Egypt.

Mr. El-Shazli has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2011.

Ms. Anastasia Pinto is an expert in gender, children and indigenous people’s rights and a civil society actor renowned in her country and beyond. She has been an active member of the Indian women’s movement for over two decades. Ms. Pinto served as a member of the Advisory Group to the Independent Expert of the UN Secretary General’s study on Violence against Children.

Ms. Pinto has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2011.

Mr. Adam Bodnar

Mr. Adam Bodnar is a lawyer, vice-president of the board of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, leading Polish NGO. He supervises a team of 20 lawyers, undertaking strategic litigation, monitoring and advocacy activities concerning core human rights violations in Poland. He is also associate professor in the Human Rights Chair at the Faculty of Law of the Warsaw University and member of the General Assembly of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT).

Mr. Bodnar has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2013.


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 beneficiaries.

The Secretariat monitors and evaluates the use of grants including through project visits, pre-screens new applicants, 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 torture and services the sessions of the Board.

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


The Torture Fund: mandate and activities
How to apply to the Fund
How to report to the Fund

For all beneficiaries the release of the grant is subject to:

Satisfactory submission of a revised and detailed budget adjusted to the amount awarded through the online Grant Management System GMS

Finance questionnaire Form (Word)
E | F | S

Updated Banking details Form (PDF) also available through the online Grant Management System GMS

Upon receipt of the grant, beneficiaries are requested to fill in and sign the receipt form:

Acknowledge receipt form (Word)

First time grantees:

All first-time grantees are requested to submit a progress report on the first six months of the use of the grant awarded through the online system (GMS), by 15 JULY every year. Please, click here to access to GMS.

User's Manual for report (PDF)

How to contribute to the Torture Fund
Forthcoming events

40th Session of the Board of Trustees: Geneva, 29 September to 3 October 2014

30th anniversary of the Fund
Feature stories
Past observances
Related Links
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