Thursday, June 11, 2009

MY GOD!!! IT HAS BEEN A WHILE> I guess I have no readers left anymore. Gives me time to work on my writing skills, while some of the old readers might catch up.

Life has been interesting since my last blog entry from london. i am back in Amsterdam, working as a criminal defence lawyer. I graduated, went to Geneva to pick up my diploma from the ADH/ HEI, went to Spain, Buklgaria and Brussels for work, and basically getting used to be living in Holland again. The cases I am working on are fun, revolting, energyzing, boring. None of them are the same, which is good.

I came to write on this blog again after searching for myself on google (yes, some things never change) and I found a bookreview on blogspot about me. It is in Dutch, and it hurts my pride, hahahaha. The reviewer said it was perverse at times . Hahaha. I mentioned taht in my book as well, but he does not say that in his reviews (and what a sore looser I am for trying to get my point across here). Anyway, it is in Ducth, so I am truly sorry for the two of you who read this blog entry.

Tomorrow I have a meeting of the Dutch Jurists for Human Rights- it is an NGO that I am going to join (as of tomorrow). Very curious about it....

Friday, December 26, 2008

winter sports

So. And such. Mmm. And so and so.

It has been a while since I wrote on this blog. In the meanwhile I finished my thesis, graduated, obtained an LL.M, found a new place, started working and did my own litigation in a Dutch Court. I am a barrister now. Even for me that is rather hard to grasp...

It is freezing in Holland now. After 4 winters in which i went skiing almost every weekend, maybe now it is finally time for some old-fashioned Dutch winter sports: ice-skating. Next weekend!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Credit Crunch

The financial world as we know it is falling apart. Apparently capitalism is failing, the markets are crunching and savings go up in smoke.
Since I have invested my money the last few years, and especially the last year while living off my own money without income in Geneva, in one thing that will become more valuable over the coming years, namely myself, i think I am quite a good investor.
Better than those who put their money in an axis-of-evil bank because they thought it gave them the best interest rate possible (my thought: since when is there something as a free lunch...). The bank puts insult after injury: on the platform of the London tube station I was waiting on yesterday is the following add displayed, about three weeks after the aforementioned bank fell: KER-CHING. Moewahahaa.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Holiday at home

Since I will only start working on November 1st, I have some time on my hands. My thesis done, no work except for an book review to write and lots of time on my hands, I have the opportunity to go on a holiday in what was once home, and is now home again: Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is not a metropolis like NYC, Singapore, Paris or London, but it has a big city feel enough, and it is generally a cool city. A nice place to call home. It has some of the best muesums in the world (provided that you like paintings and Dutch Masters, both modern and old). Someone gave me a museum jaarkaart,an all access card for 440 museums in the Netherlands. So I decided to go the museums you went to with your parents as a kid, but never went afterwards en which are really worth vistiting: het Rijksmuseum, het Stedelijk Museum, which is a museum for modern art, het Scheepvaart Museum, a shipping Museum. Those are some of the main attractions of Amsterdam. But believe it or not, they are all being renoveated at the same time. And renovations of museums take time. I am not talking about weeks or months, i am talking about years. So the main attractions of the city are not or only partially acessible. Unbelievable.

However, please do not let that stop any visitor/reader from coming to visit. In times of crises the governement is urging everyone to spend. So just come to Holland and buy the art you want to see; Christies is still selling like there is no tomorrow. And art is a great investment. Better than investing in our banks...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Woosh, the mother of all hang-overs has finally died. It took me over 24 hours of nourishing, sleeping, pampering and patience to get her out of my system and to let her die out.

On Friday my publishing house threw a party for it's 75th anniversary. As writers do, I drank too much. Not just a little bit, but over the top, all the way, hammered. On my way back home I managed to fell of my bike, hurting my knee and injuring my pride. The girl I was with was not impressed, and the next day neither was I... However, I was not the only one who got smashed. I was in the company of others, as writers do.

Thank god I spoke to my editor and to the woman who is trying to sell my book to foreign publishing houses while sober. This week is the Frankfurter Buchmesse, and both of them are going there. Being rock 'n' roll when you are an established writer: ok. But being rock 'n' roll while nobody knows you is a bit daunting. So we talked while I was sober, we agreed that I would translate a sample of my book and that they would try to pitch it somewhere.

That in itself was enough for me to celebrate. Hence the hang-over yesterday...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Politics for the young

Ok, I admit it. I am a member of a political party. For over 5 years already. I am not an active party member, I do not always agree with their views (I am on the right flank of this left-ish labour party), but I do believe in the basic thought of social democracy (although I am deep down inside a social liberal, I guess), namely that people are not equal, but should be treated equally and that it is up to the government to take care of this.

Last Friday two party members (I like those words, 'party members'. It has a very communist-style cold war feel to it, those words) came to my parents' house (where i am staying until this afternoon. I am moving to Amsterdam today...) to interview me for a Party magazine (a regional one) about my book. We had an interesting conversation about my views, politics, politics in the Netherlands, politics in the Netherlands following hypes etc etc, and about the question why political parties lose the interest of the general public. I don't know the answer to that question, but one might be because people tend to think, based on how politics was done ages ago, that being a politician is a job for a lifetime. And young people do not want to make lifetime job decisions anymore.

What a lame answer, my answer. Is that all I can come up with? I am afraid so. But if that is really the main reason why people don't want to be involved in politics, than there is something wrong with the image of politics. If someone who reads this can prove me wrong, I'll be indebted to him or her...

Saturday, October 04, 2008


My thesis is done! Thank god. All I still have to do is to edit it.
Conclusion: in the civil proceedings at the ICC (read: reparation proceedings) class action suits can be very useful tools to ensure that the litigation proceedings do not get clogged. It took me 53 pages to explain that. Obviously I could have done it in less (this blog entry has 6 lines, and I am saying exactly the same...).

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Friesland is farmland. Although the bigger part of Dutch farms are in other provinces of the Netherlands, it feels when you drive trough the region of Friesland where my parents live, as if every second house is a farm.

The street where my parents live on is long, winding, and has only two non-farm houses. From the windows on all sides of the house you see the archetypal Dutch landscape: mills (modern ones), cows, meadows. And clouds. Lots and lots of clouds, like the ones you see in paintings of Dutch Masters.

No matter how much I like this view, I also wonder what the use of all those farms is. Apparently
agriculture makes up for 5% of the Dutch economy. The total amount of farmers in Holland is less than 30,000. Although I am a big fan of regionalism, (just because I like the concept of local food made in a traditional manner), I do believe that it makes sense for countries in Europe to focus their economy on things that they are good at. In The Netherlands that would be services. And since the Netherlands is paying already quite a large sum to the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU (which means, de facto, that they are paying a lot of subsidy money to farmers abroad), it seems like some people in The Hague seem to agree with this idea. However, this idea would effectively put my parents' neighbours out of jobs.

So my parents have strictly forbidden me to ever raise this subject outside of the walls of their house, since they are sure that voicing this opinion will be a serious impediment to their popularity in the hamlet they live in. So I am being censored, and my freedom of speech is limited for the greater good, they say. Because my freedom of speech will interfere with their freedom to settle in Friesland, which they consider to be the inalienable right of any senior citizen. And besides, my father sneered, "shouldn't you be writing your thesis, instead of steering up local politics, kid?"

Aaahhh, wellll. Ok. I'll keep my mouth shut. But I be brave on the internet, and break the shackles of my forced silence. Ha! It is tough being a whistle blower....

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Where do the winds come from?

They come from Friesland, where my parents live. Friesland is a country on it's own; it has its own language, its own cultural heritage, its own history. It is in the north of the country. This northern part of the Netherlands, close to the Waddenzee is flat like the prairies of North America. The winds here are strong, stronger than in Geneva, and it makes the people who grew up here talk loud, even indoors. They are used of having to talk louder than the wind blows, hence the volume of their voices.

Life here is slow pace, and it is ideal for writing my thesis, which focuses on class action lawsuits before the ICC. There has been no articles on this particular issue, nor does the practice of class action suits exists in the dutch legal system, so it is challenging to write about it. Challenging sometimes equals boring, I have to admit.

The research I am doing is good practice for my new job as a barrister at a criminal defense law firm in Amsterdam. I'll start working on the 1st of November. So better get my thesis done soon, or otherwise i will not be able to take a much undeserved holiday...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Gone before the winds came

Together with the Arabs, I left Geneva. Summer in Geneva was filled with trips, and with Arabs, fleeing the middle eastern summer heat. They went where their money is- Switzerland. Halfway September they left the city, taking with them new clothing, cars and jewelry; leaving behind lots and lots of moolah, dosh, cheddar, money.

I did the same. That is: i left Geneva, leaving behind a lot of money. I did not bring back a lot, except for knowledge and memories. Not just of Geneva, but of 4.5 years living abroad. Now I am back again in the country that provides me with a passport. After years wondering about and around, I have hit 'home' again. The name of this blog does not have to change; I guess in a way I am a foreigner still, but now 'at home'. The blog will keep on existing; why quit?

Looking back upon the year in Switzerland, I realize that there are many things I have not written about: my friends Gabe, Steve, Tom, Amy, Daniela, Cate, Martina, Caroline. The difference between expat life in NYC, Sarajevo and Geneva. My ignorance of south America. The ex-convicts and -homeless I shared a dorm with. The lack of Swiss in Geneva. The songs played in the university library. The trip to the Isle of Man, where I almost broke my neck. Love-life. Staying Peter Pan. The possibility of going to Afghanistan.

Stories for later.

When I left the city, the winds were coming to Geneva. It was the prelude for the fall. The circle was round- it was good to leave, no matter how saddened I was by it. Because it was a memorable year, and that's what it was.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Parallel universes

Whenever I am at home (which, as most readers know, is not in my 'motherland'), it is as if the Netherlands does not exist. Whenever I am in the Netherlands, it is as if 'home' does not exist.

What I am trying to say, is that my life in the Netherlands and my life in a foreign country hardly seem to mix or mingle. What stresses me out abroad, doesn't make me raise an eyebrow in Holland; what annoys me in Holland, makes me laugh abroad. I have two lives, which I both like, but where unfortunately very few friends can take part in both.

I regret that, and often wish I could take friends from both worlds, and make them meet each other and become friends with each other as well (my friends and my friends should be friends). However, most of often the worlds stay separated, like parallel universes.

The crap however spills over: my Dutch credit card got canceled today, and now I do not have one in Switzerland anymore, while I need it here desperately. One way or another your earthly issues transfer easily abroad, whilst the things close to your heart stay where they are: in your own heart alone...

Friday, August 22, 2008


Water polo: who gives a f*ck?

I am in Holland, for just a few days. In Switzerland I do not have a TV, so my three days in the motherland, I try to soak up as much of the Olympics as possible. Today I found myself in front of the TV at 1400, cheering for the female water polo finale, in which the Dutch team was fighting Team America. Low and behold, they beat them! And although I never really even had a superficial interest in that sport, I found myself glued to the TV. Oh, the Olympic spirit....

Monday, August 04, 2008


Munich airport.

In transit.

Waiting for the flight to Geneva, reminiscing old Sarajevo memories. "Panta rei, kai ouden menei". Talking with a former colleague- he is in transit as well. We gossip, tell old stories, boast, look back. Talk about drinking, other post-conflict places, future plans, old friends we have not heard from in ages, old colleagues who are in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Colombia; about new places to go to, new things to do. I sit and listen, for the first time in a long time without envy; glad to be going home, at least for a fixed period.

Than time is up. His flight leaves in 20 minutes. We shake hands, and promise to meet each other in fifteen years again on an airport, in transit from a hot hotspot, underway to Rest & Recovery on a sunny beach, a booming metropolis, a place we then call home. We both like that idea. We both are dreamers.

He walks off, and I watch him go. A blast from the past. A nice memory.

Sunday, July 27, 2008 the meanwhile, in Sarajevo


Rain, mist, temperature differing from 13 degrees to 27 degrees. Sweaty, damp, but also cold and chilling. The city has improved, much more restored since I have left. Almost normal. Both the city and I have changed more or less, I guess. Or better- I have changed for sure. Whether the city and the country have changed since I first arrived, or from, let's say 1997- I am not sure. The visible wounds that were there in 2004, seem to have healed, though.

No real celebrations after the arrest of Dr. Dabic, Karadzic. Walked past a Muslim graveyard yesterday, where where fallen war heroes lie to rest. One of the buried defenders of the city, a Muslim, was called Karadzic. So what is in a name?

The arrest opened wounds, my friends tell- it brought back memories they have hidden away for a long time; memories they wished they had forgotten. His arrest is worth the return of the memories, they say, with almost zealous conviction as if they have to convince themselves. His arrest will not change anything, they say. And I believe them- it won't bring back anything. But it will bring justice. As that should be done.

On my strolls through town, I walked into Paddy Ashdown, the former High Representative to BiH. Today I read his thoughts on BiH. I am afraid I subscribe to them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

No ceiling

Tomorrow morning I am going back to BiH. Sarajevo, to be more exact. A place with bitter sweet memories; a place I go back to with mixed feelings. It is under my skin, though. There is a song by Eddie Vedder, which comes to mind when I think of Sarajevo, called 'No Ceiling':

Comes the morning
When I can feel
That there's nothing left to be concealed
Moving on a scene surreal
No, my heart will never
Will never be far from here

Sure as I am breathing
Sure as I'm sad
I'll keep this wisdom in my flesh
I leave here believing more than I had
And there's a reason I'll be
A reason I'll be back

As I walk
The Hemisphere
I've got my wish
To up and disappear

I've been wounded
I've been healed
Now for landing I've been
Landing I've been cleared

Sure as I'm breathing
Sure as I'm sad
I'll keep this wisdom
In my flesh

I leave here believing
More than I had
This Love has got
No Ceiling

Monday, July 21, 2008


UNBELIEVABLE!!!! The biggest war crimes suspect of Europe is caught! Radovan Karadzic has been arrested about an hour ago in Serbia. I can honestly say that during my time in BiH I more than doubted that they would ever catch him, but 'they' got him. The details are still unclear to me, but I am watching CNN and BBC World now. Apparently the Serbian Authorities arrested him.

Am going to Bosnia in two days, so am curious what will be going on in Sarajevo and Banja Luka.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Education Permanante

"Thirty, and still a student?!? Moewahahahahaha"
I am standing at the entrance of the UN, to get my library card extended. The UN library is a great place to write my thesis: it is big, it is spacious, it is calm, it has internet, it has free photocopying, and most importantly: it gives access to the Un cafeteria. That cafeteria is heaven compared to the cafeteria of my school, and it caters to those with a thin and small wallet. However, to get into the UN building, I need a renewed pass. And to get this pass, I need to get passed this security guard, who thinks it is about time that i should get a real job, instead of bumming around as a student. He hands me back my passport, and shout to his colleague that he is sending a thirty year old student through. For a second I contemplate of giving a summary of my resume, but I decide to admit defeat and nod sheepishly. "Yeah, I need to graduate," I tell him. "I have been studying since I was six," I say to him when I walk on. "My parents are by now bankrupt. There are no excuses left anymore..." He laughs, and his colleague gives me my new pass. The first day of writing my thesis has started...

The aforementioned reaction is one I get often."You are thirty and you are a student?!?" Initially people think I am a moron, someone who has been studying the better part of his life. Once I explain that I am doing a post-graduate education, the mood swings. However, all good things come to an end, and so does student life. Two more months and than my thesis needs to be handed in. In the meanwhile I found a job, on that I am actually really looking forward to: from autumn onwards I will be a lawyer, an esquire, a barrister, an advocat, a counselor, a legal entrepreneur. Criminal defense work, in Holland! For at least 3 years. As said: all good things come to an end. Like roaming the globe. Well, at least for the coming three years...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It happened in Basel

It happened in Basel. And what happens in Basel, should stay in Basel. We lost. And that should have been considered as a small mistake, nothing big, nor important, everyone makes them, so lets move one, what a shame, but here you are, since you did so well before: the semi-finals.
Alas, the world of football is merciless, and this tiny defeat kicked us out of the European Championships. ‘Us’ were the ‘The Dutch National Team’, who against all odds did very well in the first round of the Championship, but failed to deliver in the quarter finals. The quarter finals were a disaster, in which the Russians beat us because they were simply better. However, the Dutch were better at partying in Basel. Because my god, what a party it was before we lost.

I went there (it is only a two-and-a-half our train ride from Geneva), and met a few Dutch friends in town. The city looked like Amsterdam on Queensday, but with even more Dutch, or so it seemed. On the stations on my way there, I saw Swiss people all dressed up in orange, waiting for a slow train to bring them into town. Holland’s finest and not so finest met each other in Basel, were about a quarter of a million liters of beer was consumed on one afternoon, and where it was almost 33 degrees. People were swimming in the Rhine, in fountains and in beer, and in fanzones tired fans tried to find some shadow and a place to sleep- the fanzones reminded me of refugee camps, with people sleeping on the ground, or while sitting against a wall, dressed in orange rags; hollow eyed (okay, of booze), desperately looking for a place (okay, to see the match) and exhausted (okay, from a voluntarily 10 hour drive from Holland to see the match).
All in all it was an experience, to see a city being completely taken over by foreign fans; there were about 120,000 of our finest export products in Basel: the knowlegde economy. And if that is what we have to offer, then, Rest of the World: be aware…

On a completely different note: a survey by Employment Conditions Abroad has shown that Geneva is amongst the most expensive cities to live in as an expat. It is number 6 in the world. Most expensive city to live in as an expat is Luanda, Angola. Where?

Saturday, May 31, 2008


Two questions are running through my head:

Q1: how do you chat up a girl in a laundrette?
Q2: why is the European Championship football allocate to two countries who could not care less about the game 9or better: who are not as passionate about it as the rest of Europe is?

Ad1: I did my laundry in a laundrette today, and a very attractive girl walked in. She looked quite arty, dressed very 'now' and seemed a bit aloof- hence interesting. But how do you get in touch with her, while you are studying while waiting for your underwear to dry without looking to sheepish: "Airing your dirty laundry?" (uhuhuhuh). Not a good line. "Do you come here often?" ("Yeah, about once every week. My stuff gets dirty, you know. Moron.") Not very sharp either. Maybe a conversation about washing detergents can be a good one. Or one about the temperature of the water. Problem is that I would look like one of those characters from a washing powder commercial- and I have been informed that those are the most hated commercials. So please, input, my friends. Input.....

Ad2: The European Championships are starting in a weeks time, and although there are several games in town, the EC-buzz has not caught on yet. I do see some adds, some shops with Swiss fan clothing, but no big, waving flags, no newspapers with comments about the Swiss national team, no football banter in the school cafeteria. The only things I read about the EC is that the police is glad the English are not coming, that the Swiss like the Dutch fan legion the most of all fan legions and that the local bars are pissed that when they are located in an official fan zone (yes yes, fan zones: place the fans have to watch the game, and where the commercial rules of the UEFA count) they are obliged by law to serve the beer from the official EC sponsor, instead of their normal beer. A lot of talks, but not of football. Usually I would mind this- I mean the fact that the biggest European event is held in a non-football nation. Now I do not care. Because I live here, and I get the full blast of it. Nice!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Een oorlog die de mijne zou zijn

It has been a while since I wrote- not because nothing happened, but exactly the opposite- too much happened. It has been busy days.

Last week I was in Holland for the start of the wedding season: one of my friends got married to his girlfriend, in one of the more beautiful castles in the Netherlands. A very nice, and particularly warm day. The wedding was nice, and saw some people I had not seen in ages. besides that- the wedding was uncontroversial, unlike the wedding in this story. Quite moving, and quite shocking: it was in the US, and it was not 3 centuries ago, but while my parents were my age...

While in Holland, I had interviews about my book, and gave two lectures about it. I still do not see myself as a writer, just as someone who wrote one book, but one radio- and two newspaper interviews (see the radio interview by clicking here. I am being interviewed about 30 minutes into the show) as well as two presentations about it, did make me feel as if some people are genuinely interested in what I have written. I am far from modest, but compliments about my book make me blush- maybe because it is a very personal book? Haven't really figured it out yet...

After Holland, I went to France, for a two day kayak-trip on the river Drome. It was a trip of almost 50 kilometer; I am currently writing this with a muscle ache i did not have since I had growing pains. Although it was raining the first day like crazy, we had great fun. Anyone going to the Drome region, I would recommend to stay at L'ermitage de la mure- a gite run by a Dutch couple who are trying to set up business in the Drome valley- a valley in South eastern France, where the unemployment rate is about 15%. Their initiative might hopefully lead to some employment in that region.

In the coming weeks i will have exams again- just at the moment I seemed to forget that I am a student at the moment. And that brings me to the idea behind this blog entrance: whenever I bitch and moan about my boring life, my exams, my lack of future or stability and start to feel sorry for myself, refer me back to this blog. Make me read it, and tell me that it is extraordinary to be studying at the age of 30, to do all this, and not to be stuck in a job or in responsibilities. Because I am sometimes a bit short of memory, and tend to easily forget that what I am doing now, the easy life that I am leading, is actually quite cool...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Switching Sides?

After I quit my job In Bosnia, I stayed in Sarajevo for another 6 weeks to travel to Kosovo and Belgrade, but mainly to write. Because I did not work anymore, I had additional time to read as well, and one of the books I read was a book by Richard Holbrooke, called 'To End a War'. Holbrooke is a controversial person in Bosnia, and his book is met with sceptisism. He was the one who was the US 'peace broker', and the leading US diplomat/ politician who made the frame work and let the negotiations to the Dayton Agreement.

I found the book an easy read, and the writer, with all his personality flaws, fascinating. Fascinating, because he did what I want to be able to do in my career as well: to jump ships, and to keep on doing that. I.e.: he had a career in which he kept on jumping between the private and the public sector. In Holland this seems impossible; it is as if it is not seen as 'jumping ships', but 'switching sides'. Once you have chosen for the public sector, it is very hard to get into the private sector (although the other way around is possible, but if you want to go back in private after a while, it seems difficult). And that is a shame. I believe that they can both benefit from each other, and I believe that working for the public sector should be rewarded in the private sector (in the US you see very often that a high ranking banker becomes a secretary of treasure - think Henry Paulson, or think his predecessor, John Snow, who did public work while in private office); that is how it should be. My dad used to say that what happens in the US, happens 30 years later in Holland. Well, let's hope that that is true. Because Holbrook is about 36 years my senior. So there is hope- maybe in 30 years it is possible...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Universal Periodic Review

This week the human rights situation in the Netherlands was discussed in a body of the UN, namely in the Human Rights Council. The seat of this council is in Geneva, in one the the two headquarters of the UN (the other being in New York).
It was the first time the situation in the Netherlands was under review; the Human Rights Council is a new UN body that scrutenizes the HR situation in all countries in the world, not just that of those who have a questionable track record. The review is called Universal Periodic Review, the Un acronym being UPR and the acronym for the State under Review being SuR (guess why).
The review is done based on a report by the country itself, a report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (not surprisingly abbreviated to OHCHR) and the reports of several national Non-Governmental Organizations. One of those NGO's invited me to be part of their delegation to the proceedings, so my name was on the list- my profession being 'writer', according to the attendance list (I am very proud of that).

The UPR was odd. It is a highly politicized event, whereas the idea is that it is not. Holland was criticized by Iran, Algeria and Belarus because of allegations that it practices torture in its prisons, and Pakistan asked Holland questions about the Geert Wilders movie Fitna. In an informal meeting a few days later, the Permanent Representative of Pakistan (that is the Pakistani Ambassador to the UN) admitted that Pakistan did not want to ask this question, but felt some political pressure from the countries of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the OIC, of which Pakistan is the current president. So much for no politics...

For a while it looked like Holland was the bad boy in class, whereas Morocco and Tunisia, who got complements from their friends because of their report, seemed the world- champion in Human Rights. The UPR was an interesting piece of 'politicized non- politicization', and i have not figured out yet what I find of it. It is indeed fair that the situation all around the globe get attention. However, I am not sure whether this form of reviewing does not water down the interest for other, and sometimes more pertinent human rights situations...

But it was interesting for another reason: it was a reunion of my time in New York. The man who was the deputy Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN in New York (and thereby one of my bosses) is now the Dutch Human Rights Ambassador at large and one of my fellow interns at that same mission was during the UPR the spokes person for the NGO delegation. Seeing those people in this UN setting, made me almost nostalgic, and for a morning it was again fall of 2002, winter 2003, in which I was in NYC and pretended to save the world. As an intern...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The end of a season...

...was today. Today was my last day of the ski season 2007/ 2008. The beauty of living in Switzerland, is that the skiing, just like in Bosnia, is excellent. Whereas the ski conditions (it est 'snow') in Bosnia where much better than here, Switzerland has some of the most amazing ski-resorts in the world. And if they are not to your liking, you can go to France. Which I most of the time did, admittedly.
Today I went to Chamonix, and I think I did the, hands down, coolest run ever, called La Vallee Blanche. A slope which took me about 4 hours, and which was almost all fresh powder. I have skied since I was 4, and this was one of the best days. Well, not counting the cable car ride to the top, which I did with my eyes closed (no joke)- I am suffering from a sudden but serious form of Acrophobia. While roping down (!) from the cable car station to the slope, I seriously considered crying. However, since that would have been both uncool and not helpful, I rejected the idea. Nevertheless, it was a great run. And a worthy end of a season.

And the end of one season is the beginning of another- the wedding season: over the coming 6 months I have 6 weddings, and counting. One is in France, one is in Spain and one is in Brazil. I am thinking of making a career switch- and become a wedding planner for my friends- at least I get to go to friendlier places than as a lawyer in humanitarian law...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Track Impunity

Imagine: internal armed conflict breaks out. Your son is taken away from your home by a band of armed men, never to be seen again. The band of armed men fall under the responsibility of your own government. Five years later peace breaks out, but your son does not return. Imagine, five years later he is still not back, but you see one of the band members walk around your village. The government, the same government who is responsible for those who took your son, claims not to know where he is. He has disappeared.Imagine.

Some people do not need much imagination to understand the feeling that I would like to convey above. To them it has happened.
According to the European Court of Human Rights, the situation that you must be in as a next of kin amounts to degrading treatment; so when a government is engaged in enforced disappearances, it does not only violate the right to life and the right to a fair trail of the individual they let disappear, but they also violate the right to family life and the prohibition of torture with regard to the family members who stay behind.

And as we all know, violations of rights will usually end before a court. Even if the violators are states.

Currently I am working for a legal organization who makes this (and a lot of other things as well) happen- a Non- Governmental Organization called TRIAL. They indeed try to find the missing, try to get information about their whereabouts and try to get governments to give information on the lost loved-ones. People most effected and affected by war are usually the poorest, the least-developed, the ones without voices or contacts. However, becoming a victim of war can be bad luck of the draw- that is what I understood from the stories of my family in the 1940s and from my friends in BiH in the 1990s. It can happen to anyone. Even more so, for enforced disappearances you do not need a conflict. TRIAL recognizes that, and the lawyers who work there as well. They work for little money, next to their regular jobs as lawyers, to give voices, to find, to counter the bad luck of the draw and to Track Impunity. Always.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


For once I would like to use my blog to give good advice (although I do not know to whom in particular- see it as advice to all readers. And maybe don't see it as advice, but more as a tip): don't life life through dogmas.
Dogmatic thinking makes one less curious, less interested in the rest of the world, and it kills creativity. Life is a learning process, I figured out, sometimes the hard way. And a learning process implies failing at some things as well.

I come to this, because someone gave me a book he wrote, a children's book. In it, he wrote a dedication, which in translation is some much as:' "because life is for those who dare." And I like that thought. Life is indeed for those who dare. Think big, take risks, dare to do, don't be afraid to fail. Good things do not happen if you wait- they need to be actively pursued. I sound like a feel-good guru when saying those things, like a mental coach, but I like the phrase. And I'll use it, because I believe in it. As a motto, not as a dogma. Because life is indeed for those who dare. Amen!