Bertrand Ramcharan

“The dynamic and courageous leadership that Theo van Boven exercised in the process of developing UN protection is detailed in this biography. Human rights have been an area of study and practice for Van Boven throughout his entire life. He worked in the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, represented the Netherlands in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, was an expert member of the UN Commission on Human Rights’ Subcommission on Human Rights, and also served on the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. He was born in the Netherlands. From 1977 until 1982, he served as the United Nations Human Rights secretariat director. Subsequently, he was the Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and he was the United Nations Special Rapporteur against Torture.

While serving as the Director of the United Nations Human Rights secretariat, Professor van Boven incrementally increased the United Nations’ capacity for protection, thereby transforming the organization’s primary function. Every protection mechanism that is in use at the United Nations today was devised and implemented by him. As a result, we can consider him the progenitor of the modern protection system employed by the United Nations.

This book is an invaluable resource for learning about leadership and strategy. To have the ability to strengthen the UN’s capacity for protection in the future, it is essential to have a solid understanding of how the foundations were initially established. This book tells the story of Professor van Boven’s remarkable leadership of the United Nations Human Rights secretariat. It is based on the personal papers of Professor van Boven as well as the author, who served as his Special Assistant.”