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American Bar Foundation and University of Illinois College of Law to Convene World Experts on Systematic Sexual Violence and Victims’ Rights

March 30, 2011, Press releases


Contact: Allison Lynch
Phone: 312.988.6548
Fax: 312.988.6579

The Second in Continuing Series of Conferences on Aspects Of Gender Violence Will Take Place in The Hague on 7-8 April 2011

CHICAGO, IL – March 31, 2011 – Can we predict when systematic sexual violence will occur? In recent years has international criminal law expanded or contracted its ability to bring about charges of rape and sexual slavery on the grounds of crimes against humanity and genocide?  Does the political context in which mass sexual victimization arises affect the expression or severity of the violence? What kinds of support measures are available to victims of sexual violence in developing and transitioning countries?  These questions in addition to others related to the causes and responses to sexual violence will be addressed at the upcoming conference, Systematic Sexual Violence and Victims’ Rights, organized by the Center on Law and Globalization of the American Bar Foundation and the University of Illinois College of Law in cooperation with the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, Leiden University Campus/The Hague, The International Victimology Institute Tilburg (INTERVICT), and the Department of Criminal Law at Tilburg University. This conference, the second in a continuing series, will convene on April 7 and 8, 2011 in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Systematic Sexual Violence and Victims’ Rights will bring together and facilitate the development of a global network of activists, lawyers, journalists, court and government officials, nonprofit leaders, and scholars who seek to combat and remedy the systematic victimization of women and improve human rights and the rule of law in international settings. This event will build on the inaugural conference convened in 2009, at which UN High Commissioner Navanethem Pillay, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Judge Richard Goldstone, and others, called for new and intensified approaches in international criminal law to address violence against women. At this second colloquium, the conferees will further develop these evidentiary discussions in addition to examining, more thoroughly, the concerns of victims.

The Keynote and Welcoming Address will be given by Elisabeth Rehn, Minister of State of Finland and the Chair of the Board of Directors at the Trust Fund for Victims of International Criminal Court. Rehn is an independent expert on crisis management and the role of women in the development of peace for the United Nations, governments and nonprofit organizations. Rehn has specific expertise in the area of human rights and international criminal law as a former UN Special Reporter on the situation in the Republic of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and as the UN Under-Secretary-General, Special Representative of Secretary-General in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She has received numerous national and international honors and awards.

April 7th, day one of the colloquium, will focus on the causes and responses to the systematic victimization of women. John Hagan, American Bar Foundation research professor and the John D. MacArthur Professor of Sociology and Law at Northwestern University, Center on Law and Globalization Co-director and 2009 recipient of the Stockholm Prize in Criminology, will lead a panel of scholars to discuss the causal difference in race and religious based conflict, the varying political contexts in which these arise in Iraq, Darfur, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the resulting expression and severity of sexual violence. In addition, experts from around the world, including Judge Teresa A. Doherty of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, will address the topic of how sexual violence is being addressed in the field, the latest development in international criminal law on systematic sexual violence, and new evidentiary techniques to assist the ICC (International Criminal Court) bring indictments and convictions against the high level officials responsible.

The sessions on April 8th will provide an in-depth look into the needs, rights and perspectives of the victims and survivors of systematic sexual violence. Panelists will address topics such as the implication of the label “victim”, how the ICC deals with the private law concepts of reparations within the public law setting of criminal law, the participation and protect of victims of sexual violence before the ICC and the ECCC (Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia), and available support measures for victims. Featured speakers include Renifa Madenga, Appeals Counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; Pieter W.I. de Baan, Executive Director of the Trust Fund for Victims at the ICC; Duong Savorn, Cambodian Defenders Project; and Kim Thuy Seelinger, Director of the Sexual Violence and Accountability Project at the University of California Berkeley Human Rights Center.  

About the Center on Law and Globalization
The Center on Law and Globalization is a Partnership of the American Bar Foundation and the University of Illinois College of Law.  The Center brings together the top legal officials of international organizations, key journalists, and academic experts to understand behavioral and legal dimensions of critical global issues, to stimulate well-informed global policy choices, to advance empirical research on globalization and law and to advance the effective use of the law. To access the Center’s Smart Libraries – clustering the leading scholarship on globalization- visit 

Editors Note: Reporters are invited to attend all sessions. Please contact Allison Lynch (, provide your email address and indicate the dates you plan to attend.  Please have credentials present at all times.



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