she shapes the city

Anne Mitaru~ International Human Rights Lawyer


Anne is soft spoken and thoughtful, her measured answers may borrow from her father, a professor. His influence stoked a desire to teach and she has always been drawn to academia. However for Anne there are two worlds she is passionate about, the questioning rigour of the academic sector but also the fight for Human Rights. After university she realised there didn’t have to be a trade off, she can participate in both the sectors.

Currently Anne is Save The Children’s Humanitarian Advocacy Advisor for Eastern Horn Of Africa. This means that she uses her legal training to advocate for communities that are caught up in areas of conflict. It was her love of courtroom TV dramas such as “Beyond A Reasonable Doubt” that inspired Anne to follow law but also “because of a consistent pursuit for fairness” that drove her through her childhood. Today she describes her job as protecting people “who are just living their lives but are caught in the crossfire…. the crossfire sometimes is by States and sometimes by Non-State actors. It’s trying to tell these people that are the combatants, “you know what? Hands off! Hands off civilians, this is not their war””.

Perhaps sadly, Nairobi is an ideal place to carry out such work. Anne explains that in the last 30 years, since the international response to Ethiopia’s famine, Nairobi has been the hub for humanitarian work. It is the spot where organisations and governments come together to find solutions for conflicts such as those in South Sudan and Somalia. She says “Nairobi has lent itself to an international and regional discourse that’s at the heart of the protection of people….living here is important.”

Now embarking on a PHD, which looks at the political economy, Anne is continuing to ask what she calls “bold questions”. In fact she is questioning the entirety of humanitarian aid in the region. She believes that “the humanitarian structure cannot carry the weight of the world as it exists right now. Between Syria, ISIS and natural disasters… it’s a heavy world and we need to rethink the humanitarian architecture.” Anne is convinced that Nairobi is the place to be having these conversations, and that young Africans should be leading the discussions.

With both her advocacy work and her academic study there is a central theme “How can we create solutions for this region that cannot live with these conflicts and disasters? How can we build a region that is able to bounce back from itself?”

She believes that “The right city found me”, luckily for Nairobi this may well be true.

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