ABA Representatives and Observers to the United Nations

Latest Updates

Reversing Shrinking Space for Women's Rights Defenders

Justice Voices: The Pandemic's Impact on Women's Access to Justice

Gender-Lens Investing Strategies to Empower Women

Video:  Vice President Harris Remarks to the UN at the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Video: Dignity Rights Law in Practice

This panel discussion was held in conjunction with events on women’s rights and empowerment at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and the Virtual NGO CSW Forum.

The inherent right of each person to dignity is affirmed in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights treaties, and more than 160 constitutions worldwide. Our fundamental right to individual dignity forms the core foundations of peaceful, just, and inclusive societies governed by the rule of law.

Speakers

  • Patricia Lee Refo, ABA President
  • Judge Bernice B. Donald, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit and Chair of the Dignity Rights Initiative of the ABA Center for Human Rights
  • Erin Daly, Executive Director, Dignity Rights International
  • James R. May, Co-Founder, Dignity Rights Project, and Founder, Environmental Rights Institute, Delaware Law School
  • Amy Lin Meyerson, ABA Deputy Representative to the United Nations
  • Karen Mathis, ABA Representative to the United Nations

Conversation:  “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” 25 years after The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action

The 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing marked a significant turning point for the global agenda for gender equality. Panelists discussed the extent to which the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, adopted unanimously by 189 countries and declaring that “women’s rights are human rights,” has lived up to its agenda for women’s empowerment around the world.

  • Moderator: Hon. Bernice Donald, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit 
  • Speaker: Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Women’s Issues
Representatives and Observers to the United Nations

Representatives and Observers to the United Nations

Mission Statement

The mission of the ABA Representatives and Observers to the United Nations Committee is to:

  • Promote and support the ABA, an accredited NGO with the United Nations, by advancing ABA policy;
  • Foster communication and coordination between the United Nations and ABA entities and members;
  • Promote within the United Nations ABA Goal IV to advance the Rule of Law abroad and to defend our profession, liberty, human rights and access to justice;
  • Enhance globally the reputation of the ABA as a trusted partner of the United Nations and advocate for the Rule of Law, access to justice, defender of human rights, and implementation of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

Committee Members

Chair: Karen J. Mathis
ABA Representative to the United Nations and  ABA Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council

Deputy Chair: Amy Lin Meyerson
ABA Deputy Alternate Representative to the United Nations

Thomas F. Morante
ABA Representative to the United Nations Department of Global Communications

Kay H. Hodge
ABA Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council

Mary L. Smith
ABA Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council

Steven M. Richman
ABA Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council

Walter H. White, Jr.
ABA Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council in Geneva and Vienna

Isabella Danuta Bunn
ABA Observer to the United Nations Economic and Social Council in Geneva

Kerstin Carlson
ABA Alternate Observer to the United Nations Economic and Social Council in Geneva

Barbara Mendel Mayden
ABA Observer, U.S. Mission to the United Nations

John McKay
ABA Alternate Observer, U.S. Mission to the United Nations

Special Advisor
Honorable Bernice B. Donald

Bruce Rashkow
Special Advisor

Renee Dopplick
Special Advisor

Sherry Garay
ABA Staff Liaison

Upcoming Events

VIRTUAL NGO CSW65 FORUM
Four ABA Panels | March 16-19, 2021 at 1:30-3:00 pm EDT
Cost: Free

Attend four ABA panel events on women’s rights and empowerment at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and the Virtual NGO CSW Forum. This annual event is one of the largest gatherings of UN entities, global leaders, the private sector, and women’s rights advocates to focus on the rights and empowerment of women and girls. The ABA Panels at the Virtual NGO CSW65 Forum are organized by the ABA Representatives and Observers to the United Nations, ABA Rule of Law Initiative, ABA Center for Human Rights, and ABA Commission on Women in the Profession.

Register for the NGO CSW65 Forum
Step 1: Register for the NGO CSW65 Forum as an “Advocate.”
Step 2: Click on the link in the email.
Step 3: Create your profile to access the NGO CSW65 Virtual Forum events.
Step 4: Search the schedule for “American Bar Association” and click on the + symbol to “Reserve Your Spot.”

Panel One: Dignity Rights Law in Practice
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
1:30-3:00 pm EDT

The inherent right of each person to dignity is affirmed in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights treaties, and more than 160 constitutions worldwide. Our fundamental right to individual dignity forms the core foundations of peaceful, just, and inclusive societies governed by the rule of law.

Opening Remarks:
Patricia Lee Refo
, ABA President

Moderator:
Judge Bernice B. Donald
, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit and Chair of the Dignity Rights Initiative of the ABA Center for Human Rights

Panelists:

  • Erin Daly, Executive Director, Dignity Rights International
  • James R. May, Co-Founder, Dignity Rights Project, and Founder, Environmental Rights Institute, Delaware Law School
  • Amy Lin Meyerson, ABA Deputy Representative to the United Nations

Closing Remarks:
Karen Mathis
, ABA Representative to the United Nations

Panel Two: Gender-Lens Investing Strategies to Empower Women
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
1:30-3:00 pm EDT

Investors increasingly understand that gender equality, women’s rights, and women’s empowerment through meaningful participation and inclusion as decision-making leaders are crucial to realizing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Opening Remarks:
Patricia Lee Refo
, ABA President

Moderator:
Hilarie Bass
, Founder of the Bass Institute for Diversity and Inclusion and Bass Foundation, and former President of the American Bar Association

Panelists:

  • Teresa Jennings, Head of Rule of Law Development, LexisNexis Legal and Professional and Board Member, LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation
  • Steve Hollingworth, CEO/President, Grameen Foundation
  • Christina (CJ) Juhasz, Chief Investment Officer, Women’s World Banking Asset Management
  • Mikhail Reider-Gordon, Managing Director of Institutional Ethics & Integrity, Affiliated Monitors, Inc.

Closing Remarks:
Karen Mathis
, ABA Representative to the United Nations

Panel Three: Justice Voices: The Pandemic's Impact on Women's Access to Justice
Thursday, March 18, 2021
1:30-3:00 pm EDT

The pandemic has disproportionately impacted women and juveniles, creating new barriers to access to justice and increasing the dangers of domestic violence, sexual assaults, and sex trafficking. What are some strategies for courts, justice sector actors, and civil society organizations to meet the challenges?

Opening Remarks:
Patricia Lee Refo
, ABA President

Moderator:
Karen Mathis
, ABA Representative to the United Nations

Panelists

  • Judge Julianna Michelle Childs, U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina and Chair of the ABA Judicial Division
  • Monia Kari, Chair, Women’s Observatory, Tunisia
  • Justice Robert J. Torres, Jr., Supreme Court of Guam
  • Judge Isabela Ferarri, Federal Judge, Second Regional Federal Court, Brazil

Closing Remarks:
Karen Mathis
, ABA Representative to the United Nations

Panel Four: Reversing Shrinking Space for Women's Rights Defenders
Friday, March 19, 2021
1:30-3:00 pm EDT

Recent trends demonstrate erosion to democratic systems of governance at national levels, exacerbated by social inequalities brought about by the pandemic and a decline in the rule of law. Learn about the role of lawyers, bar associations, and the judiciary in reversing rule of law breakdowns and the shrinking political space for women's rights defenders.

Opening Remarks:
Patricia Lee Refo
, ABA President

Moderator: 
Mary Smith
, ABA Representatives and Observers to the United Nations

Panelists:

  • Michel Forst, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
  • Eva Abu Halaweh, Executive Director of the Mizan Law Group for Human Rights and recipient of the 2011 International Women of Courage Award from the U.S. Department of State
  • Makanatsa Makonese, Deputy Chief of Party, ABA Advancing Rights in Southern Africa Programme
  • Lelia Mooney, Executive Director, Center for the Advancement of the Rule of Law in the Americas, Georgetown Law

Closing Remarks:
Karen Mathis
, ABA Representative to the United Nations

Contact Information

For questions about this committee, please contact Sherry Garay at sherry.garay@americanbar.org.