International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Quadrennial Report of U.N. Activities

Posted 1 July 1998 in StressPoints by Yael Danieli, PhD; and Ellen Frey-Wouters, PhD, LLB Contributing Editors, International Organizations

The U.N. requires nongovernment organizations to submit periodic reports of activities to maintain accredited status. This report was prepared to conform to the required U.N. format, and covers ISTSS activities from 1994­1997.

Aim and Purpose

The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies is dedicated to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge and to advancing policy, program, and service initiatives that seek to reduce traumatic stressors as well as their immediate and long-term consequences. Since its inception in 1985, the Society has provided a forum for sharing research, clinical strategies, public policy concerns, and theoretical formulations on trauma around the world through its education and training programs and publications. The ISTSS commitment to the international dimensions of traumatic stress renders its status at and involvement with all relevant aspects of the work of the United Nations an integral part of its mission. From 1993 to the present, the number of countries represented in the Society's membership increased from 29 to 39.

Participation in the ECOSOC and Its Subsidiary Bodies

ISTSS representatives attended the meetings of the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary organs including, the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the Commission on Human Rights and the Subcommission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (e.g. the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, the Commission on Population and Development, the Commission for Social Development, the Commission on the Status of Women, and the Commission on Sustainable Development).

Oral and Written Statements Made By ISTSS representatives

  • A representative served as a featured speaker at a dinner on March 24, 1994, hosted by Ruth Limjuco, Philippine's Ambassador to the United Nations, for delegates to ECOSOC on Trauma, particularly of migrant women.
  • At the Ninth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders held April 29 - May 8, 1995 in Cairo, Egypt, ISTSS representatives addressed the Plenary on Action Against National and Transnational and Organized Crime and the Role of Criminal Law in Protection of the Environment: National Experiences and International Cooperation (May 3); and convened two ancillary meetings: Reintegrating Children After War and Other Situations of Community Violence (May 4); and Victims of Traumatic Stress: Respect, Restoration, Reparation, and Protection (May 6).
  • Conference on the International Day of Disabled Persons held Dec. 3. 1996.
  • A representative participated in informal discussions during the 35th session of the Commission for Social Development in March 1997.
  • UNICEF executive board meeting (January 1997, items 4,5,6, Document E/ICEF/1997/2/8 November 1996.)
  • A representative participated in a working group on a resolution on children with disabilities toward its adoption by the Commission on Social Development in March 1997.

Attendance at International Conferences

  • World Summit for Social Development (March 1995, Copenhagen, Denmark), following participation in the Preparatory Committee sessions for the Declaration and Programme of Action.
  • The Fourth World Conference on Women (September, 1995, Beijing, China), following three years of work with governments and NGOs to ensure the inclusion of traumatic stress concerns in the final Platform for Action.
  • The Ninth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (April 29 - May 8, 1995, Cairo, Egypt).
  • The U.N. Conference on Human Settlements (June, 1996, Istanbul, Turkey).

Cooperation with U.N. Programs and Bodies

  • ISTSS contributed to planning a World Mental Health Day meeting (October 9, 1997), cosponsored by the NGO Committee on Mental Health, DPI and WHO, focusing on "Children in Extreme Circumstances: Consequences for Mental Health."
  • An ISTSS representative participated in all Preparatory Committee meetings for the establishment of the International Criminal Court, making numerous oral and written presentations. By invitation, the representative attended a related International Conference (September 15-22, 1997, Siracusa, Italy) on "Reigning in Impunity for International Crimes and Serious Violations of Fundamental Human Rights."
  • A representative participated in two Meetings of Experts on Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power in the International Setting (December 15-23, 1995, Vienna; August 9-12, 1996, Tulsa, Oklahoma) at the invitation of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.
  • A representative has served on the Executive Board of the International Scientific and Advisory Council to the U.N. Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (January 14-16, Milan; September 16-19, 1994, Trento, Italy), and the NGO Alliance of Crime Control and Criminal Justice (New York, New York).

Other Relevant Activities

  • Two ISTSS representatives were elected as members of a nine-member Interim Bureau of the newly established NGO Committee on Mental Health (16 May, 1996), and one to the permanent Executive Committee (January, 1997). This Committee works closely with ECOSOC and its subsidiary organs.
  • An ISTSS representative was a keynote speaker at the Foro Internacional de Prevencion y Violencia Domestica, (14-18 November, 1996, Guadelajara, Mexico), at the invitation of the Department of Justice of Mexico.
  • A representative went on two missions at the invitation of the Croatian government to train professionals, including from WHO, to help trauma victims (5-11 June, 1995, Dubrovnik; 24-29 May, 1996, Opatija).

Consultations and Cooperation with U.N. Officials

ISTSS consults regularly with officials of the U.N. Secretariat. These include John Langmore, Director, Division for Social Policy and Development; Andrew Joseph, Director, WHO Liaison Office with the U.N., New York; Janet Nelson, Senior Public Affairs Officer, UNICEF; Jane Connors, Chief, Women's Rights Unit, U.N. Division for the Advancement of Women; Akiko Ito, Social Affairs Officer, Division for Social Policy and Development; Hans Corell, the Legal Counsel; Gillian Sorenson, Assistant Secretary-General; Rosario Green, Assistant Secretary-General; Eduardo Vetere, Director, Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Vienna; Elsa Stamatopoulou, Chief, New York Office of the U.N. Centre for Human Rights; Nigel S. Rodley, Special Rapporteur on Torture for the Commission on Human Rights; John Orley, WHO, Geneva; Mary Petevi, UNHCR, Geneva; Phillippe L. Boulle, Department of Humanitarian Affairs, Geneva; Flavio Del Ponte, Department of Peace Keeping Operations; Christine Ainetter Brautigam, U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.

Studies and Articles Regarding the U.N.

An ISTSS representative served as chief editor of the book International Responses to Traumatic Stress: Humanitarian, Human Rights, Justice, Peace and Development Contributions, Collaborative Actions and Future Initiatives (Y. Danieli, N.S. Rodley & L. Weisath, Editors) published in 1996 for and on behalf of the United Nations by Baywood Publishing Company, Inc. The book, with a Foreword contributed by Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the U.N., was launched 5 December, 1995 at a meeting in the Trusteeship Council Chamber at U.N. Headquarters. The event was hosted by the governments of Norway and the Philippines. Royalties from the book are paid to the UN.

  • During the period 1994­1997, ISTSS representatives wrote seven articles on the UN, published in Traumatic StressPoints, the Society's newsletter: "World Summit for Social Development," Vol. 9, No. 2, Spring 1995; "U.N. Congress addresses Crime Prevention and Offender Treatment," Vol. 9, No. 3, Summer 1995; "Beijing and Beyond," Vol. 10, No. 2, Spring 1996; "Building Bridges to the Next Millennium: the Blueprints are Ready," Vol. 11, No. 2, Spring, 1997; "U.N. Commitment to the Status of Mentally Disabled Persons in Developing Countries," Vol. 11, No. 3, Fall 1997; "Armed Conflict's Impact on Children: A U.N. Report," Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter 1997; "A Step Toward Meeting the Rights of Victims," Vol. 12, No. 1, Winter 1998.