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UN Voluntary Fund helps those on the road to recovery from slavery
The United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery
The work of the Fund is guided by the advice of an independent Board of Trustees, comprised of a Chairperson and four members, one from each geographical region. Members are appointed by the Secretary-General for a three year period, renewable once. They have expertise in human rights, in particular contemporary forms of slavery, and other relevant fields such as fundraising and project management.
Mr. Suamhirs Piraino-Guzman (Honduras) is a Doctor in Psychology and specializes in trauma-informed care and the mental health services to 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, Mr. Piraino-Guzman specialized in the mental health of victims of gender-based violence and has also worked at the Anti-Trafficking Response Network of the International Rescue Committee. Mr. Piraino-Guzman is the Director of Clinical Outpatient Services at the Orangewood Foundation (Orange County, California).
Mr. Piraino-Guzman is the current Chairperson of the Board of Trustees and has been a member since 2020.
Ms. Susan Coppedge (United States) is the Executive Director of the Georgia Legal Services Program which provides access to justice and opportunities out of poverty for Georgians, particularly those with low incomes, the elderly, and those in rural areas. Ms. Coppedge is an expert on human trafficking having worked in the field over 23 years. She previously was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Ambassador-at-Large for the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the United States Department of State (October 2015-July 2017). She also served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia focusing on investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases including indicting over 50 human traffickers and assisting over 93 victims (May 1999-October 2015). Ms. Coppedge recently volunteered her time to win the release of a wrongly convicted sex trafficking survivor who had served 10-plus years of a 20-year prison sentence. Ms. Coppedge serves on the Boards of Polaris, which operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline, and Street Grace which focuses on combatting the sexual exploitation of children.
Ms. Coppedge has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 1 October 2023.
Ms. Hina Jilani (Pakistan) is an international human rights lawyer, specializing in the rights of women, children, minority groups and prisoners. She is the co-founder of the first all-woman law firm in Pakistan, helped establish the first legal aid centre in her country and the Dastak Charitable Trust women’s shelter and has litigated numerous landmark cases. Ms. Jilani has also served as an UN independent expert, including on 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). She 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, founded by Nelson Mandela.
Ms. Jilani 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 the United Kingdom. Ms Schilling also worked on migration issues with the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program. She has over a decade of experience in outreach and public speaking 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. Fatimata M’Baye (Mauritania) is a practicing lawyer and international expert on descent-based slavery and the rights of women and girls. Mauritania’s first ever female attorney, she led strategic litigation and advocacy efforts that led to precedent-setting decisions and legislation in the country. She founded the Association mauritanienne des droits de l'homme, worked as an advisory lawyer for the Swiss NGO Terre des Hommes, and served as the vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights. In 1999, she became the first African to receive the Nuremberg International Prize for Human Rights for her work on human rights in Africa. Ms. M’baye has served as an independent expert with several United Nations mechanisms, including the 2004 International Commission of Inquiry on human rights violations in Côte d’Ivoire, the 2014 Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic, and the 2017 Group of International Experts on the situation in the Kasai regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. From 2012 to 2014, she was a board member of the UN Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights.
Ms. M’Baye has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 1 October 2023.
In the exercise of its advisory functions, the Board of Trustees recommends grant applications, advises on policy matters and engages in fundraising and outreach, including holding consultations with donors, project leaders and strategic partners.
The Board collaborates extensively with other UN mechanisms, notably the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons and the Special Rapporteur on the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children.
The Board of Trustees meets once a year, in November in Geneva, Switzerland. During its one-week session, the Board determines priorities, reviews policies and practices, and adopts recommendations on grants. Board members also periodically hold inter-sessional calls with the Fund’s Secretariat and other stakeholders.