IRLA Announces New United Nations Representative

1 October 2009, Silver Spring, MD—A veteran religious freedom advocate has returned to the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) to represent the organization at the United Nations.

James D. Standish, Esq., formerly longtime IRLA representative to the United States government, spent the past year as executive director of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent non-partisan federal agency advising the White House and Congress.

“We’re delighted to have James back with our team,” said Dr. John Graz, secretary-general of the IRLA. “He is very much at home, but at the same time at the start of an entirely new professional challenge.”

The IRLA has long maintained an office in New York, and holds special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.

Standish at UN GA 23.Sep.09
James Standish, in the hall of the UN General Assembly on 23 Sep 09, listened to speeches by world leaders, including US president Barack Obama and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The IRLA’s involvement with the United Nations stretches back to its inception.As a  young man, Dr. Bert B. Beach, previous IRLA secretary-general, met with Eleanor Roosevelt and other key players who were instrumental in the creation of the United Nations. Dr. Gianfranco Rossi and other leading IRLA figures have been engaged at the UN ever since.

Since coming to his new role on 28 August, Standish, 45, has wasted no time jumping into the fray. In his first four weeks on the job, he participated in the IRLA Meeting of Experts in Washington, DC, presented at the second IRLA symposium in Seoul, Korea, represented the IRLA at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, the Organization for Security & Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) meeting in Warsaw and the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“There are many issues at play at the UN that the IRLA must influence,” notes Standish. “From the effort to curtail freedom of religious speech, to the UN Human Rights Council comprehensive periodic review of nations’ human rights records, the door is wide open and the stakes are high.”

In addition to his work with the IRLA, Standish is a member of the White House Task Force on Interfaith Dialogue & Cooperation, sits on the board of the First Freedom Center in Richmond, Virginia, and directs the UN liaison office of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s world headquarters. Standish earned his juris doctor, cum laude, from Georgetown University, his MBA from the University of Virginia, and his BBA from Newbold College, England. He has lived in Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Great Britain and the U.S., and has traveled widely.