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Panel Discusses Responses to Gender Based Violence in Conflict

A panel of three women and one man sit at a table with a WSD Handa Center black tablecloth
Apr 10 2017

Posted In:

Events, Rule of Law and Accountability, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

On Monday April 10, the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University hosted a panel discussion on Sexual and Gender Based Violence, featuring Former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, accompanied by discussants Melanie Hyde, former Director of the WSD Handa Center in Cambodia, and Sarah Chynoweth, UNHCR consultant. The panel was moderated by Handa Center Director David Cohen.  The panel discussion was followed by the American premier screening of the Film "Breaking the Silence: Sexual Violence Under the Khmer Rouge."

Former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Judge Navanethem Pillay, shared her experiences and engaged in dialogue with human rights experts on the legacy of the UN ad hoc criminal tribunals and the new socio-cultural, political, and legal frontiers facing advocates and policymakers against sexual violence and other forms of gender based violence. A key feature of her work was the establishment of a gender-neutral definition of sexual assault.

In response to Judge Pillay’s remarks, the panelists discussed how their work has addressed gender-based violence. Sarah Chynoweth shared preliminary findings from her recent fact-finding mission to Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan where she undertook the first study on sexual violence against Syrian refugee men and boys for UNHCR.  Melanie Hyde discussed lessons learned from Cambodia's response to the sexual violence perpetrated during the Khmer Rouge regime. 

Navanethem Pillay served as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008-2014. In 1995 Ms. Pillay, a South African national, was appointed as acting judge on the South African High Court, and in the same year was elected by the UN General Assembly to be a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), where she served eight years. She played a critical role in the ICTR's groundbreaking jurisprudence on rape as genocide, as well as on issues of freedom of speech and hate propaganda. From 2003-2008 Ms. Pillay was a judge on the International Criminal Court in The Hague. She co-founded Equality Now, an international women's rights organization, and has been involved with other organizations working on issues relating to children, detainees, victims of torture and of domestic violence, and a range of economic, social and cultural rights.

Sarah Chynoweth is a researcher, writer, and consultant who has worked on gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health, and human rights in humanitarian emergencies for 15 years. She holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from the University of New South Wales in Australia. 

Melanie Hyde is an Australian lawyer with experience working on a range of programs supporting the prevention of and response to sexual and gender based violence, both within humanitarian and development settings. She is also the former Director of the WSD Handa Center’s Cambodia programs, where she coordinated the trial monitoring program at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and developed an international documentary and television series about sexual violence during the Khmer Rouge regime.