Leadership-in-Action: Asset Seizure and Reparations

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Following an intensive learning period, I spent the majority of my summer at GSF working on their Asset Seizure team. Under the guidance of Esther Dingemans (GSF’s Executive Director), Danaé van der Straten Ponthoz (GSF’s Head of Advocacy and Policy), and Ruth Quinn (GSF’s Program Lead on Asset Seizure), I began working on a myriad of projects related to their work on asset seizure and recovery, as well as administrative projects assisting the overall organization. Some of my most exciting projects in this capacity include my working on an Asset Seizure Database and helping to prepare for our event on Asset Seizure at the UN General Assembly in September. I look forward to assisting in drafting our Strategic Plan for Asset Seizure, which will begin in earnest in 2024. 

GSF’s work on asset seizure is focused on funding reparations programs. A core tenet of our philosophy is “that the duty to provide reparations and other forms of redress lies with the party responsible for perpetrating or failing to prevent the sexual violence” (Global Survivors Fund, n.d.). Our work on asset seizure is situated within the notion that reparations are affordable and possible, and that perpetrators should bear the responsibility of those reparations. This is a very new project for GSF and is still in its infancy. However, it is so exciting to be on the ground floor of this kind of project at an already established but still young organization.

Our goal in creating the database was to fill in the knowledge gaps for our team. This is a very new field of study, and the literature on it is often, unfortunately, few and far between. Gathering as many helpful resources as possible and putting them in one location at least takes one barrier out of the equation, while also acknowledging the importance and credibility of this work. Academic investigation and inquiry serve as forms of symbolic reparations. To study, analyze, and focus on an atrocity with the depth, dedication, and attention to detail that true scholarship necessitates does, in some way, symbolically recognize the atrocity and asserts the need for a wider audience to understand it as well. Of course, this is not limited to academic work – any serious investigation or movement directed towards a specific group or specific moment symbolically recognizes its importance. Academia is only one avenue through which we can collectively shed light on human rights abuses and acknowledge victims and survivors. In creating the database, I once again felt a renewed sense of optimism in this work and in my own role to play. By making this information more accessible, we both assert that more people should be familiar with the topic and facilitate that increasing familiarity. I hope to eventually expand this database from an organization-wide resource to one which can be accessed by a larger audience.

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