Madeleine Rees

Madeleine Rees, OBE is a British lawyer and current Secretary General of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

She became a lawyer in 1990 and within four years was made partner in a UK law firm, specializing in discrimination law. In the UK, she also worked on behalf of both the Commission for Racial Equality and the Equal Opportunities Commission, mainly on developing strategies to establish rights under domestic law.




Extending her skills to the international sphere, Madeleine brought cases to the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court in Luxembourg. In 1998 Madeleine was appointed as Head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and their gender expert in Bosnia and Herzegovina, during which tenure she gained a reputation for her work on counter trafficking, and was portrayed in the film, “The Whistleblower” by Vanessa Redgrave. As head of the Office, Madeleine also worked on the rule of law, gender and post-conflict, transitional justice and the protection of social and economic rights.

From September 2006 to April 2010, Madeleine served as the Head of the Women’s Rights and Gender Unit for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In 2010 she became the Secretary General of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and has helped to reclaim the role of the organization as a leader in peaceful transformations. In so doing she has built on the traditional areas pursued by WILPF an increased focus on Gender analysis, political economy, and importance of inclusivity in peace processes.

Madeleine was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to human rights, particularly women’s rights, and international peace and security. She was awarded an Honorary doctorate from Edinburgh university in 2015 and is now a Professor of Practice at the L.S.E.

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