Kwa Geok Choo Distinguished Visitor Prof Christine Chinkin at NUS

NUS Law welcomed Professor Christine Chinkin from the London School of Economics and Political Science as the 8th Kwa Geok Choo Distinguished Visitor. Her lecture on “Women, Peace and Security: Addressing conflict-related violence against women”, was one that cut across several legal disciplines and had the audience engaged throughout.

Held on the same day that would have been Lee Kuan Yew’s 92nd Birthday, NUS Law Dean Simon Chesterman welcomed the audience by talking about the importance of the Kwa Geok Choo Distinguished Visitors Programme to the legal community. Professor Chinkin was then introduced by the evening’s Chairperson, Trina Liang-Lin, Managing Director at Templebridge Investments, and President of the Singapore Committee for UN WOMEN.

A theme she repeated several times during her lecture was that addressing conflict related violence against women did not discount those committed against men, boys and the LGBT community. She also noted that there are rarely patterns and that each situation needed to be addressed on a case by case basis. She also noted that the perpetrators were also not always the same and range from the police to non-state military to gangs to peacekeepers, and sometimes even by those on the same “side”.

Some of her other observations during the lecture were that conflict and post-conflict is not always a neat delineation; extreme violence vs conflict is hard to distinguish; violence does not usually stop with a ceasefire or peace treaty and the consequences for women in particular, continue for many years after. She discussed some of the legal framework before suggesting several pillars for countering this: participation of women, gender mainstreaming, prevention and protection, and finally accountability.

Professor Chinkin finished her lecture with a quote from William Hague, the former British foreign secretary, who referred to sexual violence as the “silent scourge of war” before fielding questions and suggestions from the floor. More than 50 members of the legal community attended the event.

From left to right: Ms Trina Liang-Lin, Professor Christine Chinkin, and Dean Simon Chesterman.

Abstract of the lecture:
Singapore is one of over 150 states to have endorsed the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict which was launched in 2015 and which reaffirms that rape and serious sexual violence in armed conflict are war crimes and constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. This Declaration links with the UN Security Council's Agenda on Women Peace and Security with its focus on prevention of and protection against sexual and gender-based violence in conflict, participation of women in all levels of decision-making with respect to conflict and ending impunity. The lecture discussed the situation of women in conflict and the legal regime for combatting these crimes.

About the Speaker
Christine Chinkin, FBA is Emerita Professor of International Law and Director of the Centre on Women, Peace and Security at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is a barrister, a member of Matrix Chambers. Together with H. Charlesworth, she won the American Society of International Law, 2005 Goler T. Butcher Medal 'for outstanding contributions to the development or effective realization of international human rights law'. She is a William C Cook Global Law Professor at the University of Michigan Law School. She has held visiting appointments in Australia, the United States, Singapore and the People’s Republic of China. She is currently a member of the Kosovo Human Rights Advisory Panel and was Scientific Advisor to the Council of Europe’s Committee for the drafting of the Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.