Anders Kompass proposed as new chairman of IM
Anders Kompass has worked with development issues and human rights for almost 40 years, both in civil society, the UN system and as a diplomat. He has mediated between the government and the guerrilla in El Salvador, opened up UN human rights offices in several countries, and been ambassador to Guatemala. It is known in diplomatic circles that he has not always socialized so much with the other diplomats, but has often gone out on his own, sometimes in dangerous areas.
–Both within the UN and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I have had the incredible privilege of meeting all kinds of people. It is only up to you to make sure that you meet as many people from different sectors as possible. Not just hiding in your comfort zone. The job with human rights has the advantage that you get to meet the most vulnerable, the poorest people, who have no voice.
He came into closer contact with IM in Central America, where he saw the organisation’s work and also became more familiar with IM’s initiative Humanium Metal.
– It is important to try to do something. The weapons and gangs are still there. So is the breeding ground for violence.
You have very extensive experience of international work. How do you view the Swedish part of IM’s operations?
– I’m above all curious. IM has a fascinating history and there is a strength and a fantastic base with the work that is being done in Sweden. The activities in this country, with all the local associations, are an important anchor for the great challenges we have, including social exclusion.
You have seen a lot of misery in your professional life. What makes you most upset?
– You get hardened. But I really dislike cynicism. And injustices.
The toughest time in Anders Kompass’ professional life was when he blew the whistle about serious sexual abuse of underage boys carried out by soldiers who worked within the UN in the Central African Republic. He was charged with misconduct and ordered to resign. The pressure was great, until an external investigation acquitted him and instead directed serious criticism at the UN leadership for not acting to protect the vulnerable children.
– It still shakes me when I think about it, that someone could see this and choose to look away. I will probably never get over it. And I think it’s important that you never stop being horrified by abuses that take place.
– I never experienced that I was a whistleblower. I was just doing my job. I did not go to the media, but to my immediate superior and France’s UN delegation, as several of the perpetrators were French soldiers.
Have you ever felt like the guy sitting at the back of the class throwing erasers?
– Yes, the effect, or the impression, may have been that sometimes. You must take the consequences. You are not invited to cocktail parties and dinners, but in the long run you gain more from it, because you get respect. I have never been persona non grata, although it may have been close a couple of times.
Anders has been retired for six months and has his base in the village of Snårestad outside Ystad. The well-traveled dogs Tina and Toffee accompany him when his wife Flaminia works for the UN in Chad in Africa.
– It works quite well to have contact with her online, except when protests in the streets cause the authorities to turn off the internet.
Something that takes up a lot of his time now is his work on his memoirs.
– I have experienced a lot and learned a lot. So I decided to write about it.
If you look at the world, the democracy that is going backwards for the fifteenth year in a row, the climate crisis and the poverty that is increasing again, even more because of the pandemic. Can you feel any hope? Do you think it can get better?
– If everything else is difficult, then hope is the last thing that dies. And as long as there are people in civil society who are fighting, there is hope. So it has been during the darkest moments of my job, I have met people who have inspired me.
If Anders Kompass is elected chairman of IM in April, he will succeed Lave Beck-Friis, who has been IM’s national chairman for two years.