04 Mar 2021
Celebrating Female Leadership with Suzanne Jabbour for International Women's Day!

This year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Women leading the fight against COVID-19.'

Suzanne Jabbour, former IRCT President and current IRCT Council member, is the CEO at RESTART centre in Lebanon. Suzanne has helped navigate RESTART through the pandemic and Beirut blasting in 2020, combating the severe challenges the centre has faced, and provided crucial support to staff and survivors of torture.

Celebrating Female Leadership with Suzanne Jabbour for International Women's Day!

Ms. Suzanne Jabbour

Throughout her long-standing career, Suzanne has worked closely with survivors of torture and war trauma in prisons, detention centres, and the local community. Suzanne has headed many projects in the field of human rights protection and has contributed to the improvement of detention conditions in Lebanon and the creation of an enhanced legal framework that aims at eradicating torture in the country.

Suzanne Jabbour won the chairmanship of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture for the period 2021-2023, on February 12th, 2021. Suzanne is the first female health-based Lebanese expert. Suzanne has an extensive background in the field of human rights, mental-health, and the prevention of torture in Lebanon.

The election of Suzanne will contribute greatly to the development of the Subcommittee's work and her election emphasizes the welcomed new trend of giving women a leadership role within the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and within the United Nations contractual bodies.

Read about Suzanne’s reflects on her new role, the UN and civil society organizations in the fight against torture:

How does it feel to be the first health professional, woman and Asian-Lebanese person in the job at Chairperson of the UN Sub Committee on Prevention of Torture?

An exciting and emotional moment; you feel like you have fulfilled a distinctive accomplishment that will be an inspiration to many other women. My heart was overflowing with pride. This achievement forms a new milestone and new direction which in my opinion will be generously welcomed. It is vital for all women to witness a female preside in a leading position and even more importantly for men to see her in eminently celebrated. It was also a very gratifying moment for me as a health professional elected as chair of the UNSPT. This is the greatest indication of progression towards rewarding health professionals with long deserved roles after years of devotion and commitment to the fight against and prevention of torture. 

A beautiful and historical moment for an Asian Lebanese whose region is suffering the most and where torture is still practiced on a large scale.  

Victims around the world need us but also need legislations to end impunity, render places of detention more transparent and guarantee the legal safeguards for persons deprived of their liberty. 

From your perspective how can the UN Sub Committee on Prevention of Torture do more to raise public attention on the issue of Torture Prevention?

The emphasis on the work and efforts of National preventive mechanisms is vital and more importantly, the SPT should encourage and urge states to secure adequate funding and resources for NPMs for efficient and visible operations.  

The SPT would also engage with different relevant stakeholders and regional bodies working on the prevention of torture to draw more attention to the matter.  

How important is it that countries like Denmark, Chile, Ghana, Morocco, Indonesia and Fiji maintain a publically visible and resource strong position in the Prevention of Torture?

We are all aware that the prevention of torture is one of Denmark’s key human rights priorities. Those countries bring an imperative Regional cross cutting representation. 

Being behind the CAT initiative that launched the innovative platform for exchange of best practices amongst UN member states, they bring more focused cooperation and build the ground for constrictive dialogues with states.  

Maintaining a publicly visible and resource strong position in the prevention of torture will allow a greater ratification of the Convention against torture.

What is your opinion about collaboration between civil society organisations and the UN? Can the UN mechanisms address the Prevention of Torture agenda alone?

Civil society organizations have always been major partners to the UN and key players.  The UN system relies on the collaboration with the civil society in all areas.  

The Prevention of torture is a global effort needing the involvement of all stakeholders especially civil society organizations.  

The UN SPT continues to benefit from the sustained support of the civil society on many levels including but not limited to country visits preparations.  

For more information

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.

International Women's Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific.

For more information on the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture see here.

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