ESCR-Net’s Board is elected every three years from and by Members based on principles of regional diversity, gender balance and inclusion of grassroots groups.
Francisco Rocael, Board Chair
Consejo de Pueblos Wuxhtaj (Guatemala)
Francisco Rocael Mateo Morales, of the Council of the Wuxhtaj Peoples (Consejo de los Pueblos Wuxhtaj) in Guatemala, is a Maya Popti indigenous person dedicated to the promotion and defense of the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples in Guatemala. Since 2005, Francisco has been part of a process to guarantee the fundamental right to consultation in Guatemala, as well as a coordinator of the Mayan People’s Council (CPO) before the Huehuetenango People’s Assembly. He is also involved in the coordination of the Mesoamerican Movement Against the Extractive Mining Model (M4) and the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAR). Francisco’s university studies focused on environmental issues, and he also has broad knowledge of human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, as well as capacity building and training processes.
Cathy Albisa, Treasurer
National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (United States)
Cathy Albisa is the Executive Director of the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) and a constitutional and human rights lawyer with a background on the right to health. Cathy also has significant experience working in partnership with community organizers in the use of human rights standards to strengthen advocacy in the United States. She co-founded NESRI along with Sharda Sekaran and Liz Sullivan in order to build legitimacy for human rights in general, and economic and social rights in particular, in the United States. She is committed to a community-centered and participatory human rights approach that is locally anchored, but universal and global in its vision. Cathy clerked for the Honorable Mitchell Cohen in the District of New Jersey. She received a BA from the University of Miami and is a graduate of Columbia Law School.
Sandra Ratjen, Secretary
Franciscans International (Switzerland)
Sandra Ratjen recently joined Franciscans International as their International Advocacy Director, based in Geneva. From 2010-2015, she served as Legal Advisor on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ). Before joining the ICJ, she worked for more than 10 years for FIAN International; an international NGO specialized on the right to adequate food, first as programme officer and later as the Advocacy and International Policies Coordinator. She has been actively involved in major standard-setting processes at the international level in the field of ESCR, including in the context of the UN CESCR work. In particular, she has played an important role in global civil society efforts towards the adoption of the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR and the promotion of extraterritorial obligations of States pertaining to ESCR.
Federation of Women Lawyers (Kenya)
Ruth Aura Odhiambo holds a Doctorate in Law from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, a Masters in Policy Studies from the University of Fort Hare and a Masters in Law from the University of Zimbabwe. She is a Lawyer with more than 20 years of experience in International Law and Development, 15 of which have focused on Gender, Law and Human Rights. She is a Senior Lecturer at Egerton University, Institute of Women, Gender and Development Studies and School of Law. She has consulted and undertaken research for a number of organizations, such as the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, and served as Member of the Technical Committee for the Beijing +15 Review. She has also consulted and undertaken research for National Gender and Equality Commission, United Nations Children's Fund/United Nations Population Fund and the Government of Kenya on various Gender, Policy Development, HIV/AIDS, Law and Human Rights issues. She has been a key facilitator of various legislative and policy reforms in Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Sudan. She is also a member of Everywoman Everywhere Coalition, an initiative advocating for a global treaty to address violence against women. Dr. Ruth Aura is currently the Chairperson of the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Kenya that is a leading women rights organization that advocates for upholding of women rights as human rights.
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (Pakistan)
Saeed Baloch seeks to protect the economic, environmental, political, and social rights of Pakistan’s poor coastal and inland fishing communities in which he was raised. With many years of experience as an activist working on the rights of workers and marginalized groups, he currently serves as General Secretary for the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), a grassroots organization of fishing communities, with its headquarters in Karachi, Sindh province. In addition to his work with PFF, Saeed also serves as the General Secretary of the Karachi chapter of Pakistan’s Muttahida Labour Federation and is a working member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. He is internationally engaged in Debt and Climate Justice Issues as member of regional committee Jubilee South-APMMD, as an AI member of the NGO Forum on ADB, and in the Asia-Europe Peoples Forum.
Democracy and Workers' Rights Center (Palestine)
Hasan Barghouthi is a Palestinian trade unionist, well known for his many years of struggles in the field of social and workers' rights. In 1979, he established the hotel workers’ trade union in Jerusalem, and assumed its presidency for three years. He was arrested by the Israeli occupying forces and placed under house arrests for five years for defending the freedom of association of Palestinian workers. In 1993, he was one of the founders of the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center, a Palestinian non-governmental organization dedicated to defending workers’ rights and promoting social justice and equity. Himself a trainer in labor education, Mr. Barghouthi has been an active member of the executive committee of the International Federation of Workers’ Education Association since 2000, and was elected as one of its vice-presidents in 2007 & 2011. Dedicated to spreading workers’ education throughout the Arab region, he promoted the establishment of workers’ education organizations in several Arab countries, and was instrumental in the establishment of the regional federation of the IFWEA in the Arab countries in 2004, of which he was elected general secretary. Mr. Barghouthi has an MA in political science and is currently writing his PhD thesis on the social impact of the relationship between political parties and trade unions.
National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (Sri Lanka)
Herman is the founder and leader of the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) and a human rights defender. He also serves as a Executive Committee member of People’s Alliance for Right to Land coalition in Sri Lanka (PARL), President of Praja Abilasha Land Rights Network of Sri Lanka, Core Committee member of South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE), and Special Invitee to World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP).