Canadian lawyer joins United Nations Office

5 September 2006

NEW YORK — Tahirih Naylor, a lawyer from Canada, has joined the Baha'i International Community as a representative to the United Nations.

Ms. Naylor, 28, will work closely with Bani Dugal, the Community's principal representative to the United Nations, on human rights issues. She will also handle issues relating to sustainable development and social development at the United Nations.

"We are very pleased to have Ms. Naylor join our office," said Ms. Dugal. "She has a strong background in law, and she has had formative experiences working with the Canadian Baha'i community's Office of Governmental Relations and also with Baha'i-inspired development projects. She is a young woman with maturity beyond her years, who has already brought new ideas and a fresh perspective to our work."

Ms. Naylor joined the Community's United Nations Office in July. Her coming follows the arrival Ms. Fulya Vekiloglu, who joined the Office in June, also as a representative to the United Nations.

Before coming to the Community, Ms. Naylor worked as a representative in the Office of Governmental Relations of the Baha'i community of Canada. Her duties there included presenting the Baha'i community's point of view to government officials and non-governmental organizations, as well as work on projects concerning human rights and immigration.

She worked for the government of Ontario in the Family Responsibility Office before that, handling various legal duties, including representation, research, and the writing of various motions and memoranda.

Ms. Naylor received her law degree from Osgood Hall Law School in 2003. Her undergraduate education was at the University of Western Ontario, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 2000 with the highest grade point average in her class.

Service to the community at large in the arena of development and social justice has also been a consistent feature in Ms. Naylor's experience, work she had often done internationally.

She currently serves as treasurer for the Breakwell Education Association, an NGO that oversees the development of two educational institutions in Stratford, Ontario, the Nancy Campbell Collegiate Institute and the Stratford College of Liberal Arts.

She worked for an NGO in Guelph, Ontario, as an English as a second language (ESL) teacher, served as the coordinator of Canadian volunteers for the Youth Can Move the World literacy and youth empowerment program in Guyana, and trained young people to address social issues through the arts for the Baha'i communities of Samoa, Tonga, and the Bahamas.

In 1997, she served as the program coordinator and a dancer for the Diversity Dance Theatre in Europe, which offers educational performances and workshops on issues of multiculturalism and world citizenship. During that time, she toured 13 countries in Eastern and Western Europe. She has done similar arts-based projects in China and Papua New Guinea.

"I feel quite honored to have been invited to join the United Nations Office of the Baha'i International Community," said Ms. Naylor. "My ambition in life has long been to address social problems, such as issues relating to poverty and the environment.

"One of the reasons I went to law school was to get skills that I felt could be used to assist people and communities in a practical way, especially in terms of promoting social justice.

"In my experience, approaches to social and sustainable development often neglect the understanding and application of spiritual principles in favor of a purely materialistic perspective.

"My hope is that my background in law and community development can be useful in our outreach to the United Nations and its partners in civil society in bringing the Community's distinctive spiritual perspective to this effort."