June 27, 2017
Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) is delighted to announce the appointment of Anneke Van Woudenberg as its new executive director, and said it plans to expand its work.
Patricia Feeney, RAID’s outgoing director, is retiring after 18 years during which she earned RAID the reputation as a small and highly effective organization spearheading efforts in the field of business and human rights. She will be replaced by Van Woudenberg, who was previously deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch.“
Anneke has 20 years of experience on the frontlines of human rights in Africa and I’m thrilled to be handing over to her,” said Feeney. “She is just the person to lead RAID as it takes on corporations that believe they can tread on the rights of people in Africa without consequence.”
Feeney’s work will be celebrated at an event at Matrix Chambers on 28 June.
Van Woudenberg’s work at Human Rights Watch included in-depth fact-finding and reporting on human rights violations across sub-Saharan Africa, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a major focus of RAID’s existing portfolio. She has briefed the UN Security Council, the US Congress and the British and European parliaments, and is a frequent commentator in the international press on human rights and justice issues. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Van Woudenberg was the country director for Oxfam in the DRC.
“Anneke brings the perfect experience, skills, and passion to build on Patricia’s remarkable legacy,” said Dr. Bronwen Manby, chair of RAID’s board. “Her work in Congo has shamed governments, changed international policy, and led to international trials against notorious warlords. We need the same tenacity to bring greater accountability for corporate complicity in human rights violations across the continent.”
Since it was founded in 1998, RAID has led the way in the use of detailed research to achieve justice for victims of corporate human rights abuse and environmental damage. RAID’s pioneering cases cover the DRC, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania, amongst others, and range from legal actions against mining companies complicit in war crimes to pressing stock markets to more effectively regulate companies involved in corruption and rights abuses.
In 2008, RAID’s meticulous case work led to the first ever determination that a British company had breached the human rights provisions of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, paving the way for other such cases. The precedent set helped lead to the adoption of explicit business and human rights standards by the United Nations in 2011.
“I have long admired RAID’s powerful combination of in-depth research with seeking justice for the victims, no matter how long it takes and how impossible the struggle appears,” Anneke said. “It’s a great honour to lead this small organization and to take RAID into its next chapter.”
Born in the Netherlands and raised in Canada, Anneke graduated from the London School of Economics with a Masters in International Relations in 1992. She went on to work in the parliamentary office of the former British Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath before entering the corporate world with Andersen Consulting and NatWest Bank, working in London, Moscow, New York and Johannesburg. Her work in the private sector was followed by work with Marie Stopes in Malawi on reproductive health, Oxfam as Country Director in the Democratic Republic of Congo and with Human Rights Watch from 2002 to 2016. Anneke is also finishing a book on her personal journey seeking justice for mass atrocities in Congo.
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