Tirza Theunissen joined The Asia Foundation in July 2012 as program and operations manager for Mongolia and held the position of deputy country representative until 2015. In this capacity, she oversaw and managed a wide range of programs and projects on urban services; economic development; water, sanitation and health; trafficking in persons and women’s empowerment. Her achievements include leading the development of a successful urban governance and economic development program with the Ulaanbaatar City Municipality, the establishment of a provincial competitiveness website and the design of an integrated database on trafficking in persons. In addition, she supports the Foundation’s regional and Asian Approaches to Development Cooperation programming in Mongolia and is responsible for the operational management, communications and outreach of the Mongolia office.
Tirza Theunissen was previously based in Bangladesh, where she worked for a wide variety of multilateral and bilateral organizations including UNICEF, UNDP and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN). In her capacity as Advisor Policy (Governance and Gender) at EKN, she supported the development of a Multi-Annual Strategic Plan, designed a civic engagement strategy and assisted in the formulation of a governance and anti-corruption plan for the Embassy. As project expert for the “Promoting Access to Justice and Human Rights in Bangladesh” Project of UNDP, she provided technical support to the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs in developing alternative dispute resolution mechanisms for women as well as setting up a case-management system.
Tirza Theunissen started her work in Bangladesh in 2006 as Program Officer for the Policy, Advocacy and Legislative Reform Project at the Child Protection Section of UNICEF Bangladesh. In this capacity, she conducted advocacy, law and policy review on children’s issues; co-authored the draft amendment to the 1974 Children Act and developed and implemented multi-sectoral capacity building programs for judges, prosecutors, lawyers, probation officers, social workers and police officers on child rights. She also led the development and initial implementation of a project to establish a protective environment for Rohingya refugee children in Cox’s Bazar. During her time in Bangladesh, she conducted various consultancy assignments for a wide range of agencies including the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
Recipient of the Presidential Award for Exceptional Performance in 2014.
Co-Author of Chapter on Bangladesh in International Law in Domestic Legal Systems – Incorporation, Transformation, and Persuasion, edited by Prof. Dinah Shelton, Oxford University Press, 2011
Co-author and editor of Towards a Justice Delivery System for Children – A Guide and Case-Law on Children in Conflict with the Law, Justice M. Imman Ali, UNICEF Bangladesh, 2010
Education: Master’s degree in Human Rights and Democratization European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratization, Venice, Italy, 2005; master’s degree in Dutch Law, European Law and Comparative Law, European Law School, University of Maastricht, the Netherlands, 2004; University of Oxford and George Washington University Joint Program in International Human Rights Law, New College, Oxford, United Kingdom, 2010.