Conference: Global Sexual Violence During Conflict: From the Balkans to Africa and the Middle East

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 to Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Please join us for a two-day conference on Global Sexual Violence During Conflict. 

Press Coverage:

Voice of America

Voice of America (Romanian): Print and video.


Tuesday, March 22, Lecture Hall, 3rd floor Pulitzer Hall, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism

4:30 p.m. Film Screening: Thinking of You (Kosovo documentary, runtime 40 min.), followed by panel discussion with Anna Di Lellio, NYU, New School

6:00 p.m.  Keynote Address:  "Inevitable or constructed? Sexual violence, men, women and war" by Madeleine Rees, Secretary General of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, former director of women’s issues at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with introductory remarks and Q & A moderated by Alexander Cooley, Director, Harriman Institute
Wednesday, March 23, Kellogg Center, Room 1501 International Affairs Building
9:00 a.m. The Balkan Wars: Women’s Bodies as Targets of Ethnic Cleansing 
Anna Di Lellio, NYU, New School (Kosovo), "The Power of Oral History and Confronting the Unspeakable"
Velma Saric, Founder & Executive Director, Post-Conflict Research Center, (BiH), "Bosnia and Reconciliation Around Sexual War Crimes One Generation After the War"
Edita Miftari, Fulbright Scholar, Clark University (BiH), "Gender Analysis of Bosnia"
Jennifer Trahan, NYU, Clinical Professor of Global Affairs; International Juris prudence, ICTY & ICTR and National Courts
Moderator: Belinda Cooper, Senior Fellow, World Policy Institute; Adjunct Professor, NYU, Center for Global Affairs and Columbia University, Institute for the Study of Human Rights
10:45  a.m. Coffee Break
11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Africa to Syria:  Sexual Violence Escalates in War
Liesl Gernholtz, Executive Director, Women's Rights Project; Human Rights Watch (Kenya, Central African Republic, South Sudan)
Shabnam Mojtahedi, Legal and Strategy Analyst, Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC)
Dr. Roger Luhiriri, former surgeon, Panzi Hospital; Medical Ethics Masters of Science Program, UPenn (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Pablo Castillo-Diaz, Specialist on Sexual Violence During Conflict, UNWomen, (Global Overview)
Moderator: Tanya Domi, Professor, Harriman Institute, Columbia University

Madeleine Rees, OBE is a British lawyer and current Secretary General of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She became a lawyer in 1990 and within four years was made partner in a large UK law firm, specializing in discrimination law. In the UK, she also worked on behalf of both the Commission for Racial Equality and the Equal Opportunities Commission, mainly on developing strategies to establish rights under domestic law. In 1998 Madeleine was appointed as Head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and their gender expert in Bosnia and Herzegovina, during which tenure she gained a reputation for her work on counter trafficking, and was portrayed in the film, “The Whistleblower” by Vanessa Redgrave.  As head of the Office, Madeleine also worked on the rule of law, gender and post-conflict, transitional justice and the protection of social and economic rights. From September 2006 to April 2010, Madeleine served as the Head of the Women’s Rights and Gender Unit for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. In 2010 she took over as Secretary General of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Rees was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to human rights, particularly women's rights, and international peace and security.

Anna Di Lellio is a sociologist, policy analyst, and journalist, expert on Kosovo, where she worked as political adviser to the Prime Minister, Media Commissioner, and adviser for IOM and the UN on the Kosovo Liberation Army program of reintegration. She currently lectures on political communication at New York University and humanitarian intervention at the New School in New York City. She holds a PhD in Sociology from Columbia University and a Masters in Public Policy from NYU. She is the author of several publications, among them The Battle of Kosovo 1389. An Albanian Epic and the editor of The Case for Kosova. A Passage to Independence.

Velma Šarić is the founder and Executive Director of the Post-Conflict Research Center (PCRC) – an innovative peacebuilding organization, based in Sarajevo, which aims to cultivate an environment for sustainable peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the greater Balkans region. Under her tenure, PCRC has worked with thousands of young people, running creative multimedia projects at a grassroots level that have brought together and fostered tolerance, mutual understanding and positive change between divided youth, citizens and ethnic groups in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Balkans region.Velma has extensive academic and professional experience in the fields of sociology, genocide studies and international law and war crimes. As a graduate of the BBC reporting school, Velma has dedicated her 14 year career to investigative reporting in the Western Balkans. Velma has also worked as a trained journalist for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and as a researcher and producer on numerous publications and films about the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, including "Uspomene 677", "In the Land of Blood and Honey" by Angelina Jolie, and "I Came to Testify" and "War Redefined" from PBS' Women, War & Peace TV series. She is also the founder of Balkan Diskurs, a non-profit, multimedia platform dedicated to challenging stereotypes and providing viewpoints on society, culture, and politics in the Western Balkans.

Edita Miftari, researcher from Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a Fulbright Fellow at Clark University. She received her B.A. in Security Studies from Sarajevo University and M.A. in Gender Studies from Central European University in Budapest. Her research focuses on women's political participation, inclusive peace and security processes, and her work is closely related to Sarajevo Open Center and Foundation CURE. Edita is a member of Women's Network of BiH, Women's Initiative for Constitutional Reforms, Women in Business Network and Peace Building Network, and has been awarded with numerous academic and professional scholarships, including fellowships of the Central European University (2013), School of Political Studies of the Council of Europe (2013), German Marshall Fund of the U.S. (2014), Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the U.K. and the Queen Mary University of London (2015) and the U.S. Department of State (2015). In 2015, Edita has co-authored a book on women's political history in post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Jennifer Trahan is Associate Clinical Professor of Global Affairs at N.Y.U.  She teaches: International Law; Human Rights in Theory & Practice; International Justice; Transitional Justice; U.S. Use of Force & the “Global War on Terror”; and leads a field intensive to The Hague, Bosnia and Serbia, and one to Rwanda.  She has served as counsel and of counsel to the International Justice Program of Human Rights Watch; served as Iraq Prosecutions Consultant to the International Center of Transitional Justice; and worked on cases before the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.  She is the author of two books on the case law of the ad hoc Tribunals.


Belinda Cooper is a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute and an adjunct professor at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs and Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. She has taught human rights, international and transitional justice, and women’s rights, and co-teaches NYU’s field intensive on war crimes prosecutions in The Hague and former Yugoslavia. Her experience has included working with East German dissidents before the fall of communism, assisting the lawyers for German-Turkish Guantanamo detainee Murat Kurnaz, organizing a project on memorialization of the past in Turkey, and coauthoring reports on domestic violence in Tanzania, Armenia and Uzbekistan. Cooper holds a law degree from Yale.

Liesl Gerntholtz is a South African lawyer.  She worked for the newly created South African Human Rights Commission and the Commission on Gender Equality following the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994.  She later joined the AIDS Law Project and worked extensively on HIV, children’s rights and violence against women. Before joining Human Rights Watch, she was the executive director of the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, a multi-disciplinary centre that provide legal and paralegal services to women and girls in connection with domestic and sexual violence and undertook research and advocacy.  She is currently the head of the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch and a member of its senior management team.


Shabnam Mojtahedi is the Legal and Strategy Analyst for the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) where she develops policies and analyses for SJAC’s documentation, data analysis, and transitional justice work. Prior to joining SJAC, she taught international and commercial law at Yeditepe University in Istanbul and worked with the Public International Law & Policy Group on legal reform in post-conflict and transitional states.

Dr. Roger Luhiriri serves dual roles as a Physician and Human Rights Advocate at Panzi Hospital. The hospital is a medical facility specializing in the treatement of victims of sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Dr. Luhiriri is a specialist in the treatment of traumatic and Obstetric fistula and a patient advocate –assisting survivors with obtaining necessary psychological support and counseling, vocational training, and legal and socio-economic planning. He is currently a graduate student for a Master of Bioethics in the Department of Biomedical Ethics and Health Policy in Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania.

Pablo Castillo Díaz, Protection Specialist, Peace and Security, UN Women headquarters. Pablo’s focus is preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence in conflict, post-conflict, and emergency settings, as well as gender mainstreaming in peacekeeping operations. Before joining the United Nations in 2009, he spent several years teaching international politics at various universities in the United States. He grew up in the Canary Islands (Spain) and has a degree in Political Science and International Relations from Universidad Complutense de Madrid and a Doctorate from Rutgers University for his work on international criminal justice and conflict resolution.

Tayna Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia’s Harriman Institute. She teaches human rights in the Western Balkans. Prior to her faculty appointment at Columbia in 2008, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender and sexual identity issues and human trafficking. These topics animate her research and teaching interests in the Balkans and the states of the former Soviet Union. She is currently writing a book on the emerging LGBT human rights movement in the Western Balkans. During her previous policy work in Bosnia and Herzegovina implementing the Dayton Peace Accords for the OSCE Mission 1996-2000, she served in the position of Spokesperson, Counselor to U.S. Ambassador Robert Barry and Chair of the OSCE Media Experts Commission. 
Panel 1
Panel 2
Madeleine Rees Keynote Address