Renewed Call for Contributions to the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee on Current levels of representation of women in human rights organs and mechanisms

The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee extended its deadline to 29 May 2020 to receive contributions and inputs from relevant stakeholders, including Member States, international and regional organizations, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the special procedures, national human rights institutions, civil society and academic institutions, for its report on Current levels of representation of women in human rights organs and mechanisms. This is a great  opportunity to contribute to the debate on improving gender balance in international courts and organs.

In June 2019, the Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 41/6, in which it requested the Advisory Committee to prepare a report, in close cooperation with the Working Group on Discrimination against Women (WG) and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, on current levels of representation of women in human rights organs and mechanisms such as the Advisory Committee, the treaty bodies and the special procedures established by the Human Rights Council.

The report is set to include good practices by States in nominating, electing and appointing candidates to ensure balanced gender representation, in line with the system-wide strategy on gender parity, and recommendations to assist the Council and Member States in this regard. The Rapporteur of the Advisory Committee leading the drafting of the report is Professor Elizabeth Salmon from Peru.

The GQUAL Campaign worked with the WG and the Mission of Mexico in Geneva to craft language for this resolution to promote gender balance at the United Nations human rights organs and mechanisms.

For more information on the Resolution and the questionnaire to guide the contributions and views, click here.

India should also accede to the UN refugee convention

Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 8.54.19 AMby Sital Kalantry**

Although nearly seventy-five percent of the countries in the world have adopted a uniform approach to refugees, India privileges people from certain groups and countries over others. Nearly 150 countries around the world, including the United States, are party to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees or the 1967 Protocol adopted pursuant to the Convention. Signatories to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention cannot deport people who have a fear of persecution or have been persecuted on the basis of their religion, nationality, race, political opinion, or particular social group. This world consensus on refugees developed in response to the Nazi’s persecution and killing of Jews and other minorities.

India, however, is not party to nor has it acceded to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention nor the 1967 Protocol to that Convention.  Consequently, it can pick and choose which types of refugees it will accept and which it will reject.  Buddhists from Tibet fleeing China’s persecution have been welcomed in India, but Rohingyas fleeing from religious persecution in Myanmar are generally denied entry into India. This selective approach that gives priority to certain refugees while rejecting others is reflected in the law that lead to widespread protests and violence in India recently, the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019(the “CAA”). By that amendment, the Indian Parliament amended its nationality law, the Citizenship Act of 1955, to give a fast-track pathway to citizenship to Hindu, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians (but Muslims) who had entered India before 2014 from Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Bangladesh.

Widespread protests around India erupted immediately after this law was passed.  People gathered to read the preamble of the Indian Constitution to suggest that the government had violated the principles of the Constitution that requires it to treat all its residents equally. The CAA was seen to reflect a vision of India as Hindu where Muslims are not welcome. These protests went on for months with protestors continuously protesting in Shaheen Bagh, New Delhi shortly after the CAA was passed. Then pro-CAA protestsemerged and shortly before Trump’s visit to India, violence began. Recent reportssuggest that forty-four people died in the violence in Delhi and most of them were Muslims. The Indian government refuses to give a pathway to citizenship to Muslims minorities who were persecuted in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

While the objections to the CAA were forceful and from many corners, few people realize that the Indian government had already adopted the same approachto refugees as found in the CAA with two notifications from the Ministry of Home Affairs years earlier in 2015and 2016.  In those notifications, the Ministry of Home Affairs amended the Passport (Entry into India) Rules of 1950to allow “Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who were compelled to seek shelter in India due to religious persecution or fear of religious persecution and entered into India on or before the December 31, 2014” to travel without valid travel document into India.  Although the CAA is seen as a uniquely discriminatory law, the reality is that the unequal treatment of refugees and the privileging of certain group over others it not a new policy approach of the Indian government.

On the other hand, if, like most of the countries in the world, India had signed or acceded to the 1951 UN Refugee Conventionor 1967 Protocol, it would not be permitted to privilege certain types of refugees over others. The 1951 UN Refugee Convention requires countries to admit and refrain from deporting refugees. To qualify as a refugee, a person must fear or have been subject to religious persecution (or certain other forms of persecution) in the country of his or her residence.  If it were party to the UN Refugee Convention or Protocol, India could not adopt a policy that excluded Muslims or one that allowed refugees only from certain countries. Nearly 150 countries in the world follow the same approach to refugees, India should also accede to the 1951 UN Convention.

**The authoris a Clinical Professor of Law, Cornell Law School, has published a book on Women’s Rights and Migrationin 2017, is faculty director of the Cornell India Law Center, and teaches international human rights and immigration law.

Republished from The Hindustan Times, March 12, 2020:


New Article on Deterring Wartime Atrocities

Civilians typically bear the brunt of suffering in contemporary conflicts.  Long after liberated Nazi concentration camp survivors held up the first sign declaring, ‘Never Again!’ civilians have faced genocide in Bangladesh, Burundi, Guatemala, Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Darfur.  Sexual violence, torture, and forced disappearances also count among the innumerable horrors that civilians continue to endure.

In the 1990s, international officials sought to respond to such suffering by establishing a new generation of wartime international criminal tribunals (ICTs or war crimes tribunals).  In particular, in 1993 the United Nations Security Council created the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY, or Yugoslav Tribunal).  The ICTY paved the way for the establishment of the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC) five years later.  Unlike earlier ICTs in Nuremberg and Tokyo—as well as recent war crimes tribunals in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, East Timor, Lebanon, Bosnia, and Kosovo—both the ICTY and ICC are mandated to prosecute international criminal law (ICL) violations committed in the context of active armed conflicts.  In so doing, the ICTY’s and ICC’s founders hoped that they might, among other things, deter combatants in those conflicts from perpetrating violence against civilians.

Over 25 years after the establishment of the first wartime ICT, there are still more questions than answers regarding these institutions’ role in deterring atrocities.  Skeptics contend that, in the heat of battle, combatants are unlikely to perceive a substantial risk of international legal punishment.[i]  Moreover, ICTs face formidable political obstacles that impair their ability to secure arrests and convictions, and thereby enforce the law.  Pessimists argue that if an ICT were in a position to arrest weak combatants (including rebels), doing so might motivate encourage them to escalate attacks on civilians to gain leverage that would help them to evade international criminal prosecution.[ii]  In contrast, optimists argue that ICTs can deter violence against civilians so long as their officials secure the prosecutorial support necessary to punish war criminals.[iii]

In a new article—”Deterring Wartime Atrocities: Hard Lessons from the Yugoslav Tribunal” appearing in International Security (edited at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs)—Dr. Jacqueline R. McAllister argues that none of the aforementioned views fully captures how and when wartime ICTs might deter atrocities against civilians.  Insights from criminology, as well as research on civil conflicts and international legal compliance, suggest that ICTs are most likely to deter government and rebel forces from committing atrocities against civilians when all three of the following conditions are present: (1) ICT officials have secured sufficient  prosecutorial support, (2) combatant groups rely on support from liberal constituencies, and (3) combatant groups have  centralized structures. Case studies of the ICTY’s impact on fourteen combatant groups from the Yugoslav conflicts—combined with hundreds of field interviews with war veterans and others involved in hostilities (whose perspectives have been missing in existing studies on international criminal deterrence)—confirm these predictions.  The ICTY’s record thus sheds important sight into how and when contemporary wartime ICTs—including the International Criminal Court—might succeed in deterring combatant atrocities against civilians.

To learn more about Dr. McAllister’s work, follow her on Twitter @j_r_mcallister.

[i]. Tom J. Farer, “Restraining the Barbarians: Can International Criminal Law Help?” Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 22, No. 1 (February 2000), pp. 90–117,; James F. Alexander, “The International Criminal Court and the Prevention of Atrocities: Predicting the Court’s Impact,” Villanova Law Review, Vol. 54, No. 1 (2009), pp. 1–55,; Kate Cronin-Furman, “Managing Expectations: International Criminal Trials and the Prospects for Deterrence of Mass Atrocity,” International Journal of Transitional Justice, Vol. 7, No. 3 (2013), pp. 434–454,; Susanne D. Mueller, “Kenya and the International Criminal Court (ICC): Politics, the Election, and the Law,” Journal of Eastern African Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1 (2013), pp. 25–42,; and David Mendeloff, “Punish or Persuade? The Compellence Logic of International Criminal Court Intervention in Cases of Ongoing Civilian Violence,” International Studies Review, Vol. 20, No. 3 (September 2017), pp. 395–421,

[ii]. Jack Snyder and Leslie Vinjamuri, “Trials and Errors: Principle and Pragmatism in Strategies of International Justice,” International Security, Vol. 28, No. 3 (Winter 2003/04), pp. 5–44,; Jack Goldsmith, “The Self-Defeating International Criminal Court,” University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 70, No. 1 (2003), pp. 89–104,; Jack Goldsmith and Stephen D. Krasner, “The Limits of Idealism,” Daedalus, Vol. 132, No. 1 (Winter 2003), pp. 47–63,; Daniel Krcmaric, “The Justice Dilemma: International Criminal Accountability, Mass Atrocities, and Civil Conflict,” Ph.D. dissertation, Duke University, 2015; Monika Nalepa and Emilia Justnya Powell, “The Role of Domestic Opposition and International Justice Regimes in Peaceful Transitions of Power,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 60, No. 7 (October 2016), pp. 1191–1218,; Alyssa K. Prorok, “The (In)compatibility of Peace and Justice? The International Criminal Court and Civil Conflict Termination,” International Organization, Vol. 71, No. 2 (Spring 2017), pp. 213–243,; Michael Broache, “Irrelevance, Instigation, and Prevention: The Mixed Effects of International Criminal Court Prosecutions in Atrocities in the CNDP/M23 Case,” International Journal of Transitional Justice, Vol. 10, No. 3 (November 2016), pp. 388–409,; Julian Ku and Jide Nzelibe, “Do International Criminal Tribunals Deter or Exacerbate Humanitarian Atrocities?” Washington University Law Quarterly, Vol. 84, No. 4 (2006), pp. 777–834; and William A. Schabas, “Victor’s Justice: Selecting “Situations” at the International Criminal Court,” John Marshall Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Spring 2010), pp. 535–552,

[iii]. Hyeran Jo and Beth A. Simmons, “Can the International Criminal Court Deter Atrocity?,” International Organization, Vol. 70, No. 3 (Summer 2016), pp. 443–475,; Hyren Jo and Beth A. Simmons, “Can the International Criminal Court Deter Atrocity?—CORRIGENDUM,” International Organization, Vol. 71, No. 2 (Spring 2017), pp. 419–421,; Kathryn Sikkink, The Justice Cascade: How Human Rights Prosecutions Are Changing World Politics (New York: W.W. Norton, 2011); and Courtney Hillebrecht, “The Deterrent Effects of the International Criminal Court: Evidence from Libya,” International Interactions, Vol. 42, No. 4 (2016), pp. 616–643,

Trauma-Misinformed Justice at the International Criminal Court

Trauma permeates international criminal justice. Exposure to life and physical integrity threatening events is indiscernible from the gravest international crimes—genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. The very creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was underpinned by efforts to shield humanity from mass trauma. The 1998 Rome Statute—the document establishing the ICC— acknowledges “unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity”, and mandates the Court to prosecute the mentioned crimes which “threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world”.

It may appear that in practice the ICC addresses trauma in a sensitive manner. In the first case of Lubanga, the judges noted that it may explain incoherence in the witnesses’ testimonies. Therefore, the Chamber “made appropriate allowance for any instances of imprecision, implausibility or inconsistency” [para. 103]. The latter approach had been echoed in the subsequent judgments (see, for example, Bemba, para. 230; Katanga, para. 83; Ngudjolo, para. 49; Ntaganda, para. 79).

Nevertheless, whilst the ICC seeks to embrace stories of adversity, it simultaneously acts as their arbitrary. What constitutes the “appropriate” is open to interpretation, thus the recognition of psychological injury is bound to be consensual. Consequently, representation of trauma—its instances and recollection—is stripped of heterogeneity, and its subjects are denied the unadulterated expression of suffering.

Minimisation of trauma

The courtroom stories revealed multiple instances of trauma in the seminal Lubanga case, including abduction of young people, separation from families, forced enrolment to military forces, and participation in hostilities.

Yet, the bench voiced reservations as to the witnesses’ experiences:

“The Chamber has taken into account […] the trauma the children called by the prosecution are likely to have suffered. […] some or all of them may have been exposed to violence in the context of war, and this may have had an effect on their testimony” [para. 479; emphasis added].

A well-examined lack of witness credibility may have had effect on the judges’ position; however, the legal facts should have been separated from the war actualities embedded in the broader case context. The latter concerned the DRC wars, marked by the destruction of infrastructure, massacres, cannibalism and public rapes. In the province of Ituri where the ICC investigation was conducted, 95 per cent of youth were found to have witnessed at least one traumatic event.

The probabilistic language used in Lubanga demonstrates the ICC’s failure to recognise trauma to its full extent; the issue further compounded by the relevant behavioural misinterpretations.

In the Katanga case, Witness P-28 demonstrated reluctance in providing the account of a particular battle. This surprised the Chamber: a “detached report […] did not appear to reflect the acts of someone who had directly participated in the attack, but rather seemed to be the recollection of a person far removed from the battlefield’’ [para.134].

However, such behaviour is indicative of dissociation; a psychological defence mechanism separating an individual from the traumatic event. Even though the ICC is claimed not to factor demeanour in determining witness’ reliability, it should refrain from remarking on behavioural peculiarities, which might be natural adaptive responses to threatening situations.

Prioritisation of sexual violence victims

Within the juridical trauma discourse, a category of crimes could be distinguished as receiving a different and favourable ICC’s treatment, namely the crimes of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Notwithstanding the acquittal of Jean-Pierre Bemba in 2018, the Trial Chamber’s judgment serves as an instructive example: addressing rape as a crime against humanity and a war crime, it contains most references to trauma. The offence is portrayed as “humiliating and traumatic” [para. 1010].

The judges elaborated the effects of sexual violence—physical, psychological, social—in great detail. In one particular instance, Witness P22, who was raped by three men at gunpoint, was reported to be “suicidal, reluctant to engage in any sexual relationship, and exhibited symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder” [para. 508; see also paras. 469; 483; 492; 494].

It is true, as J.N. Clark observes, that the light cast on rape victims individualises them and directs attention to their needs. Nevertheless, it is odd that such excessive remarks are made solely with regards to SGBV victims. More problematically, the phrase “traumatising circumstances”—indicating extremely severe occurrences—appears to be primarily reserved for female SGBV victims (see, for example, paras. 468; 492).

Moreover, the depiction of individual harm is fragmented; sparse and mediated references to trauma symptoms oversimplify its understanding. The Court tends to misuse both gender lens and the language of trauma in representing collective wrongdoing. In honouring primarily female victims of sex crimes, the ICC— in D. E. Buss’ words—creates “archetypal representations of the ‘woman victim’ (that) too easily stand in as a conceptual shorthand for the complexity of atrocity’’.

Retraumatisation in the courtroom

Evidence giving is emotionally strenuous. As S. L. Steele notes, an individual subjected to the trial process may come to “physical or psychological harm in a new and different manner to the original traumatisation”. This is well exemplified by Witness’ P-132 experience in the Katanga trial: while testifying about multiple acts of rape and sexual slavery, on several occasions she “was overwhelmed by emotion and had to stop when she broke down in tears, leading to the hearing’s adjournment” [para. 205].

Some traumatic memories cannot be retrieved. Regarding Witness P-0010, the Chamber in Ntaganda highlighted that “in relation to certain issues, such as the circumstances of her alleged abduction [by militia], she frequently noted that she did not understand a question, or that her memory was failing her’’ [para. 91]. Witness’ reliability is subsequently questioned: according to the Defence, P-0010 was a “combative, biased and uncooperative witness” [para. 91].

The ICC procedural documents incorporate special measures to children, elderly people or SGBV victims. These include anonymity, testimony by video-link, and image and voice distortion.

The Court nonetheless tends to undermine the impact of the trial. In Lubanga, for example, the Trial Chamber attributed the evidence giving to mere “stress” [para. 478]. After being presented a photograph of a perpetrator, the mentioned Witness-132 in the Katanga trial was visibly affected; yet the bench was guarded in acknowledging her distress: “it does not rule out the possibility […] that her emotional response to the photograph could be explained by the trauma she suffered, since it can indeed be disturbing or painful to have to recall such experiences [para. 1005; emphasis added].

J. Herman once wrote, “if one set out by design to devise a system for provoking intrusive post-trauma symptoms, one could not do better than a court of law”. The magnitude and intensity of the international crimes compels the ICC to treat everyone engaging with the justice process as having encountered traumatic events. Its policies and procedures should ensure victims and witnesses’ safety, stabilisation and fairness.

Governing global health emergencies: the role of criminalization

The point of departure for this blog is the apparent frequency of criminalization strategies in early government responses to the Corona virus. While much attention has been given to the securitization of global health responses – also in the case of Corona – less systematic focus has been given to the partial criminalization of infectious diseases as a strategy of global health governance.

As the scope of the Corona outbreak is broadening, the number of countries deploying criminalization measures is also rapidly increasing. China has introduced harsh regulations to deal with the Corona virus, including ‘medical-related crimes’ involving harassment and violence against medical personnel, refusal to submit to quarantine and obstructing dead body management. Singapore and Hong Kong have criminalized the breach of travel restrictions and misleading authorities or spreading false rumours.   Taiwan plans sentencing the violation of quarantines. Iran will flog or jail people who spread false rumours. A Russian prankster is facing jail-time for Corona ‘hooliganism’. In the US, prospective quarantine violators from the infamous cruise ship Diamond Princess were facing fines or jail time. Beyond governments’ need to be seen doing something in the face of public panic across the Global East and the Global North, how should we think about this propensity to reach for penal measures?

How we explain disease and whom we blame are highly symptomatic of who we are and how we organize our relations with others, in particular the practices and life forms of marginalized elements of society. This will also likely be the legacy of Corona. Moreover, current global health responses to infectious diseases remain bound up with both colonial-era and historical command-and control trajectories of response and needs to be understood in context.

In this blog, I map out three categories of criminalization.  My assumption is that the Corona response will likely involve all three in some form or other. I take the broad conceptualizations of criminalization in circulation in legal, policy and media discourse as the starting point: this includes criminal law sanctions  and administrative and disciplinary sanctions as well as popular perceptions of the uses of penal power and social ‘criminalization-talk’.  The idea is that criminalization can be understood as a strategic tool with multiple constitutive uses in the global health field.

In the following, I outline three different things that criminalization ‘does’ in the global health field, which may serve as a resource for thinking about how criminalization will shape approaches to the Corona virus.

First, I am interested in the direct and indirect criminalization of health care delivery through the criminalization of individuals infected with or suspected of being infected with specific infectious diseases. The problem with this approach is that it risks aggravating humanitarian suffering because it is either premised on criminalizing the practices and attributes of groups that are already in a marginal position, or that with infection, patients immediately become  socially or economically ‘marginalized’ which allows for criminal interventions. This category of criminalization covers transmission, exposure, interaction with ‘vulnerable groups’ (such as children), failure to disclose or simply physical movement. It relies significantly on the mobilization of othering and of metaphors of fear.  The global health response may also be undermined through the de facto criminalization of individuals by way of the use of compulsory health powers such as surveillance, contact tracing, compulsory examination and treatment, regulation of public meeting places, quarantines and forced isolation of individuals.

These regimes might be so repressive as to have severe humanitarian impact on the populations concerned. Human suffering here does not emanate from the inability to offer health care but from the human rights violations arising from how fear and stigma fuel criminalization of ‘vulnerable/deviant/threat groups (such as drug users, those with precarious migration status, sex workers and the LGBTI population) and how criminalization in turn produces further deviance and marginalization.  A characteristic of early phases of epidemics is that certain groups are singled out as risky and characterized as dangerous, allowing for repressive public health interventions.

At the same time, fear of harassment, arrest and detention may deter people from using health services.  A ‘deviant’ social status combined with health status may lead to discrimination and ill-treatment by health care providers. Criminalization is linked to high levels of harassment and violence, reported by lesbian, gay, transgender people and sex workers around the world (see here and here). Notably, in the context of HIV/AIDS, criminalization, and quarantine and individual responsibility for disclosure have been considered as key tools to halt or limit transmission, despite innovations in treatment that radically transform the nature and lethality of HIV/AIDS. Globally, prosecutions for non‐disclosure, exposure or transmission of HIV frequently relate to sexual activity, biting, or spitting. At least 68 countries have laws that specifically criminalize HIV non‐disclosure, exposure, or transmission. Thirty‐three countries are known to have applied other criminal law provisions in similar cases.

For the fast-moving but relatively low-mortality Corona-virus, these lessons indicate that a marginalized social status can contribute to exacerbating transmission and constitute a barrier to adequate health care, potentially increasing mortality.

Second, criminalization and repressive public health measures and discriminatory barriers are also a complicating factor during emergencies caused by other factors. As seen in the context of Ebola, general violence as well as violence against health care workers undermines efforts to end outbreaks. Humanitarian emergencies confront public health systems with often overwhelming challenges. In the midst of this, criminalization of individuals who are infected or perceived as risky or dangerous further compromises the ability to address preexisting epidemics and hamper transmission, thus exacerbating the impact of the overall impact of the crisis.

Third, in situations when the disease itself is the emergency, criminalization and the attendant practice of quarantines directly hampers efforts. Historically, quarantines have been used for a wide range of diseases including venereal disease, tuberculosis, scarlet fever, leprosy and cholera. Quarantines are co-constructed through the longstanding tradition of framing infectious disease through criminalization, whereby stigma, medicalization and incarceration have worked together to produce colonial bodies construed as racial and sexual threats to national security (see here and here). Quarantine was a widely employed tool against Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia.  As noted  by commentators, according to the logic underlying quarantines ‘subjects marked as abnormal, diseased, criminal, or illicit should be isolated for their own betterment and for the collective good’. While resistance becomes a proof of deviance and of the necessity of segregation, in the case of Ebola, quarantines may compel fearful communities to hide  suspected cases. In the contemporary context, with an international human rights framework on health suggesting that rights-based approaches to disease prevention and mitigation should be foregrounded,  problematic tradeoffs between criminalization-oriented public health measures and fundamental rights and liberties are likely to proliferate, as illustrated by the US government’s budding ‘war on Corona’.

This blog has provided an initial map of how criminalization may shape the Corona response. In sum, when criminalization is pegged directly onto suffering human bodies, criminalization hinders global health interventions in three ways. Criminalization might be so repressive that it has severe health-related impacts on the populations concerned. Criminalization also undermines and exacerbates challenges already faced by the public health infrastructure during an emergency. Finally, the repercussions of criminalization are most impactful in situations when the disease itself is the humanitarian crisis and where criminalization directly hampers efforts to contain and mitigate epidemics.

This blog was initially published by International Health Policies

¡Brava! IntLawGrrls contributor Karen E. Bravo named Law Dean at Indiana-Purdue in Indianapolis

Delighted to learn that our colleague and longstanding IntLawGrrls contributor, Karen E. Bravo, has just been named Dean of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

A member of that law school’s faculty since 2004, she is Vice Dean and Professor of Law; past administrative positions have included Associate Dean for International Affairs and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies & International Affairs.

Courses she’s taught include Closely Held Business Organizations, International Business Transactions, International Law, International Trade, and a seminar on Illicit International Markets. Her scholarship, meanwhile, includes publications on regional integration, labor liberalization, personhood, and human trafficking. She earned her B.A. degree with honours from the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, her J.D. degree from Columbia University School of Law, and her LL.M. degree from New York University School of Law.

Her professional background includes practice at international law firms in New York and Massachusetts and at the American Bar Association Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (ABA/CEELI), as well as Executive Council and other leadership roles at the American Society of International Law.

Karen’s longstanding association with IntLawGrrls includes a series of posts, dedicated to her transnational foremother, the Jamaican icon Nanny of the Windward Maroons. She’s among the ‘Grrls pictured in the group photo above, made at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Society of International Law. Next to her is Northeastern Law Professor Hope Lewis, another scholar of Jamaican ancestry. At IntLawGrrls’ 10th Birthday  conference held in March 2017 at the University of Georgia School of Law, Karen spoke movingly about Hope, who had passed away a couple months earlier. Her “Tribute to Hope Lewis” appears at 46 Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law 135.

Heartfelt congratulations!

Announcing the Language, Culture and Justice Hub

The International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life of Brandeis University is pleased to announce the launch of the Language, Culture and Justice Hub.

Screen Shot 2020-02-24 at 1.08.24 PMThis online platform was created to serve as a clearinghouse of scholarship, commentary and contacts for people working at the nexus of language, culture and justice. Its principal aim, stated on the About the Hub  page, is to centralize a dispersed set of fields engaged in work around this nexus of issues. The Hub is intended for practitioners as well as scholars and researchers.

The Hub currently features  recent news and commentary  relevant to language, culture and justice; a regular Spotlight feature that explores critical topics in this area; and thematic pages with extensive resources, the first of which focuses on language and culture in processes of international criminal justice. The site also offers profiles of the Hub’s inaugural members, whose professions range from interpreters and translators, to researchers and scholars, to activists on diverse topics. Other Hub features and activities will be explored in the coming months.

There are several ways that you can become part of the Language, Culture and Justice Hub:

  • Join a listserv to receive news and updates
  • Contribute a Spotlight feature on a relevant topic
  • Suggest resources and news items for the Hub
  • Become a full member with a profile page

Although the site language is English, we welcome profile pages, links to scholarship, and original commentary in any language.

We hope you will explore the Hub and provide feedback and suggestions. If you wish to join us, send an email to