Tara Foley’s work day on Monday, February 8, 2010.
Where did the day go?? As a Foreign Service Officer assigned to the U.S. Mission in Geneva, Switzerland, I find myself asking that a lot.
My office represents the United States government to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Geneva is nestled snugly between the Alps and Jura mountain ranges, beside the tranquil Lac Leman, but at the Council, we address human rights issues across the globe.
This morning, I attended the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for Qatar. The UPR is like a progress report on human rights for all UN member states. (The U.S. will undergo its own review in November!) The Qatari government first had a chance to speak about its efforts to improve human rights within its country. Then other states offered recommendations for how Qatar can do more to improve human rights, and applauded Qatar for progress it has made. The U.S. statement focused on women’s rights, religious freedom, and the rights of migrant workers (such as workers from South and Southeast Asia who travel to Qatar looking for job opportunities). The three-hour session went over, so we did not get a chance to deliver our statement orally (due to lack of time, we submitted it in writing for the record).
If we had, I would have delivered our statement to the Human Rights Council on behalf of the U.S. government. It is a privilege I have had now several times since arriving in Geneva, and it gives me the shivers every time. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that it was just a few years ago that I was sitting in one of Professor Bailey’s political science classes, haunting the lobby at Hovey House planning my study abroad programs in Morocco and the United Kingdom, and delving into late-night reflections with my Nicaragua and Jamaica Arrupe teammates. I am certain every day, though, that those experiences at BC inspired me toward this career path, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice.