Faces of International Security: Suzanne Vatov

This issue of Faces of International Security will feature Suzanne Vatov, an associate expert in legal matters at CTBTO and a graduate of Paris University in public international law. The CTBTO is the international organization aimed at detecting any nuclear explosion, whether conducted on the Earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, underwater or underground, using an international monitoring system consisting of more than 300 facilities worldwide. Prior to this experience at the CTBTO she worked at the IAEA as a project officer, in the field of nuclear safety, and at the UN, in Vienna, as a legal expert.

What is the best meal you have had while travelling for work?

I am fortunate enough to work and live in a country whose sweets and delicacies are fabulous.  The Viennese Kaiserschmarrn, my favorite Austrian sweet dish, is one of a kind! According to a legend, the Emperor of Austria, Franz Joseph I, was fond of it, although the pastry chef who created the dish was not sure, at the outset, that it would meet the success he hoped for. It is actually not hard to understand why the Kaiserschmarrn is so pleasant: take a few pieces of fluffy pancakes sprinkled with icing sugar and dipped in lingonberry or apricot jam and you are all set. A culinary delight!

What is the book you recommend everyone should read?

Although there is no accounting for taste, the 2013 novel “The Great Swindle” (original title: Au revoir là-haut) by Pierre Lemaître, who won the Goncourt Prize, deeply moved me. The book tells the story of two survivors of the First World War who are torn between despair, as they are left to their own devices in the aftermath of the war, and hope of regaining their dignity. Through the book, the author talks about the situation of war veterans and glorifies the outstanding bravery and determination of his two endearing heroes. The plot of the novel and the development of the characters throughout the story blew me away.

Who is the most inspiring person you have worked with?

Throughout my professional life, I have worked with many incredible experts and professionals whose breadth of knowledge, skills and experience always impressed me and who are a great source of inspiration. I think that the person who gave me the incentive to start dedicating myself to international civil service and pursue a career abroad is my former professor of international law and master’s thesis supervisor, Mr. Joe Verhoeven. Ad hoc judge at the International Court of Justice and emeritus professor at Paris University, he is the author of major publications on State immunities and international recognition of States. His important work had a great influence on me and further developed my interest in international security issues.

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