Merethe Borge MacLeod representing RWI in Doha.

“It’s basically about operationalising abstract human rights standards”


RWI had a group of staff members attending the 13th UN Conference on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Doha in April. We took a few minutes to speak to one of them. Merethe Borge MacLeod, head of RWI’s office in China, what’s been most interesting so far?

“It has been really interesting to learn more about the other actors in the field of criminal justice – from the UN agencies to very specialized NGOs – and how policy processes in the field are made. Often the side events were more interesting than the official programme, with lots of NGOs and practitioners presenting and debating.”

What have you learned so far at the congress?

“For me the official workshop on juvenile justice (“Children: treatment of offenders, rehabilitation and social integration”) as well as side events on these topics were the most directly informative since we are supporting such initiatives in our China Programme.”

“I really want to link up what is happening on the global arena with what our partners are doing in China, especially when looking at good experiences in terms of early diversion of juveniles from the justice system. I had some excellent chats with people who have a lifetime of experiences in this field, and I hope to invite them to China to share with our partners there!”

What do you think RWI could learn from the congress?

“RWI was one of the organizers of the official workshop on juvenile justice where Christian Ranheim, the head of our office in Indonesia, presented the RWI study on juvenile justice in the ASEAN countries. We also organized two side events showcasing our work on human rights in correctional services in Indonesia and Kenya.”

“Together with our direct partners we demonstrated how human rights standards, in this case the UN Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners, can be implemented in a really practical way.”

“It’s basically about operationalising abstract human rights standards. It was great to see that a lot of people are interested in our experiences and that we can really contribute to the policy debates and developments of good methodologies. I think RWI can do more to share our experiences with other actors.”

What do you think RWI could potentially implement in the future?

“I think RWI is an important link between global and regional fora and what is happening on the ground in many countries. This time around we brought the officer in charge of human rights trainings and audits in the Kenyan Prison Service, and his experiences are really what applying human rights is all about.”

“In the future, I think RWI should bring more of our cooperation partners to events like this, as they can both learn from other participants and make good connections, whilst also contributing with valuable experiences that can be applicable in other contexts.”