"Times of Reckoning: Confronting the Legacies of Mass Abuse through Transitional Justice," a symposium organized by the Drexel Law Review, was held Oct. 12 at the Thomas R. Kline Institute of Trial Advocacy.
The daylong symposium, co-sponsored by UN Women and the American Society of International Law, gathered leading jurists and scholars from around the globe to explore the diverse contexts in which transitional justice occurs, how transitioning societies memorialize past injustices and the role that foreign courts can play in adjudicating human rights abuses.
Morning Keynote Speaker: Justice Richard J. Goldstone:
A jurist in South Africa’s highest courts for 23 years and a pioneer in advancing transitional justice, Justice Goldstone played a key role in South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy.
After practicing commercial law for more than a decade, Justice Goldstone was appointed by the South African government to serve on the Transvaal Supreme Court and the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa. There, he took part in key rulings that undermined apartheid from within the system.
During the transition from apartheid to multiracial democracy in the early 1990s, he headed the influential Goldstone Commission investigations into political violence in South Africa. Justice Goldstone's work enabled multi-party negotiations to remain on course despite repeated outbreaks of violence and he was credited with playing an indispensable role in the transition.
Justice Goldstone's leadership investigating violence led directly to his nomination to serve as the first chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda in the 1990s. He prosecuted key war crimes suspects, including the Bosnian Serb political and military leaders, Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić. Returning to South Africa, he took up a seat on the newly established Constitutional Court of South Africa, to which he had been nominated by President Nelson Mandela. In 2009, Goldstone led a fact-finding mission created by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate human rights and humanitarian law violations related to the Gaza War.
The author of “For Humanity: Reflections of a War Crimes Investigator,” Justice Goldstone is the recipient of numerous awards from international human rights organizations.
Afternoon Keynote Speaker: Justice Thelma Aldana:
A trailblazing Guatemalan jurist who has served as president of the nation’s Supreme Court of Justice and as its attorney general.
Joining Guatemala’s Supreme Court in 2009 as its first female magistrate, Justice Aldana served as its president from 2011 to 2012. During her tenure as president, she started special courts to adjudicate cases of violence against women that had become rampant in the country. The number of districts that now maintain such special courts has grown to 11, with judges as well as police officers receiving special training on responding to violence against women.
In 2014, Justice Aldana became attorney general, making the prosecution of corruption a centerpiece of her policy. In her role as the nation’s top law enforcement official, Justice Aldana led investigators and prosecutors to collaborate with the commissioner of the United Nations International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, in the process dismantling a customs-fraud ring in which then-President Otto Pérez Molina was implicated. Molina was imprisoned after being forced to resign from office.
In 2015, Justice Aldana received the Jaime Brunet Prize for the Promotion of Human Rights, in recognition of her work on behalf of women’s rights and against political corruption.
Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recognized Justice Aldana’s accomplishments with an International Women of Courage Award in 2016.
In 2017, Justice Aldana became president of the Conference of State Parties to the UN Convention Against Corruption.
Panel 1: Transitional Justice in Context
Roger Duthie, Senior Research Expert, International Center for Transitional Justice, moderator
As senior research expert at the International Center for Transitional Justice in New York, Mr. Duthie has managed research projects examining how transitional justice relates to education, forced displacement and development. His publications include “Justice Mosaics: How Context Shapes Transitional Justice in Fractured Societies,” which he edited in 2017 with Paul Seils; “Transitional Justice and Education: Learning Peace,” which he edited in 2016 with Clara Ramirez-Barat; “Transitional Justice and Displacement,” 2012, and “Transitional Justice and Development,” which he edited with Pablo de Greiff in 2009. His articles have been published in the International Journal of Transitional Justice and the International Human Rights Law Review. He also edited a special issue of the Journal of Refugee Studies on accountability and redress for displacement with Megan Bradley in 2014. He has a BA in history from Cornell University and an MA in international relations from Yale University.
Nelson Camilo Sánchez León, Director of the International Human Rights Clinic and Assistant Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law
Professor Sánchez joined the University of Virginia School of Law faculty in 2018. He is a former associate professor of law at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and the former director of Transitional Justice at Dejusticia, the Center for the Study of Law, Justice and Society in Bogotá. He continues to serve on its board of directors. His research interests include human rights in the inter-American system, transitional justice, the social and legal condition of the internally displaced population, and the Colombian peace process. He has published many essays and papers on those subjects, including, recently, “Could the Colombian Peace Accord, Trigger an ICC Investigation on Colombia?,” “Justicia para la Paz” (Justice for Peace) and "Corporate Accountability, Reparations, and Distributive Justice in Post-Conflict Societies." He received an LLM from Harvard Law School and a PhD from Universidad Nacional, Bogotá.
Juan Méndez, Professor of Human Rights Law in Residence and Faculty Director of the Anti-Torture Initiative, American University Washington College of Law
The former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Professor Méndez has received international recognition as a champion of human rights. The president of the International Center for Transitional Justice from 2004—2009 and current president emeritus, Professor Méndez has also held leadership posts with Human Rights Watch, the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights in Costa Rica and the Inter-American Commission on Human rights of the Organization of American States. From 2004 to 2007, he served as special advisor on the prevention of genocide to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
In 2017, Professor Méndez was elected commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva, Switzerland and he was named a member of the Selection Committee to appoint magistrates of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and members of the Truth Commission set up as part of the Colombian Peace Accords.
He has held faculty positions at Georgetown Law School, the University of Notre Dame Law School, the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the University of Oxford’s Kellogg College. He is a co-author of “Taking a Stand: The Evolution of Human Rights.”
In the 1970s, Professor Méndez was adopted as a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International after the Argentinean military dictatorship subjected him to more than a year of torture and detention for representing political prisoners.
Roland Adjovi, Assistant Professor of Historical and Political Studies, Arcadia University and member of United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and member of United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Professor Adjiovi is a human rights advocate and academic who focuses on Africa, with an international law and conflict resolution perspective that combines his knowledge in political science and legal studies. He has worked at the UN as an expert sitting on the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention since 2014; his mandate will continue to 2020.
Before joining Arcadia University, Professor Adjovi taught in Côte d’Ivoire and France.
He also worked as a jurist, assisting the judges in their mandate at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and assisting victims in cases before the International Criminal Court.
Professor Adjovi has also been the lead counsel for Rev. Mtikila before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, successfully litigating the issue of independent candidates in elections in Tanzania. He has represented the administration of the International Court of Justice in a labor dispute before the United Nations Appeals Tribunal. Adjovi also sits on editorial committees for the legal publications African Yearbook of International Law, published by the African Foundation for International Law and the International Legal Materials, published by the American Society of International Law.
Noha Aboueldahab, Visiting Fellow, Brookings Doha Center
Dr. Aboueldahab researches transitional justice in the Arab region. She is the author of “Transitional Justice and the Prosecution of Political Leaders in the Arab Region: A comparative study of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen,” published by Hart in 2017, which challenges mainstream transitional justice practice and scholarship using original material from interviews conducted in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen from 2011 to 2017.
She is also vice chair of the Transitional Justice and Rule of Law Interest Group at the American Society of International Law. Her other publications include “Transitional Justice Policy in Authoritarian Contexts: The Case of Egypt,” published by Brookings in 2017, and “Writing Atrocities: Syrian Civil Society and Transitional Justice” published by Brookings in 2018.
Since 2003, she has worked in the fields of international law, human rights and development at various United Nations agencies and NGOs. Dr. Aboueldahab has been regularly interviewed by various media outlets, including Al Jazeera, BBC, and CNN.
Panel 2: Memorialization of Transitional Justice
Ruti Teitel, Ernst C. Stiefel Professor of Comparative Law, New York Law School, moderator
A prolific and internationally recognized scholar on international law, international human rights, transitional justice and comparative constitutional law, Professor Teitel is the author of “Transitional Justice,” “Humanity’s Law” and “Globalizing Transitional Justice,” all published by Oxford University Press, in addition to myriad book chapters and articles in leading scholarly law journals.
Currently an affiliated visiting professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Professor Teitel has also taught at law schools at New York University, Yale University, Fordham University and Tel Aviv University, as well as Columbia University’s Politics Department and School of International and Public Affairs.
Professor Teitel is a founding co-chair of the American Society of International Law's Interest Group on Transitional Justice and Rule of Law, a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the International Law Association’s International Human Rights Law Committee. Professor Teitel is also on the board of the London Review of International Law.
She received her JD from Cornell Law School.
Julia Viebach, Departmental Lecturer, African Studies Centre, University of Oxford
Dr. Viebach recently finished a three-year Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship based in the Faculty of Law at University of Oxford. Previously she was a Development Career Lecturer and the Oxford Transitional Justice Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Oxford’s Centre for Criminology. She obtained her PhD in peace and conflict studies from the University of Marburg in Germany, where she worked as a research fellow before coming to Oxford in 2013. Dr. Viebach researches transitional justice, memorialisation, trauma and witnessing after mass atrocity, with a focus on post-genocide Rwanda. She is interested in critical theory, research ethics and methodologies. She has recently curated the photographic exhibition Kwibuka Rwanda at Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum. The exhibition tells the story of “care-takers,” survivors working at Rwanda’s genocide memorials, who have pledged their lives to the cleaning and preservation of their dead loved one’s remains and bodies.
Ursula Doyle, Professor of Law, Salmon P. Chase College of Law, Northern Kentucky University
Professor Doyle’s scholarly interests span the topics of international law, international criminal law and human rights law, and her research explores the use of international law in U. S. domestic courts, business and human rights, the institutional capacities of the United Nations and the human rights demands of restorative justice. She is working on a biography of diplomat, academic and politician Patricia Roberts Harris.
Professor Doyle has presented her work at domestic and international academic conferences from Stanford Law School to the University of Vienna School of Law and the Australian National University.
Previously, Professor Doyle taught legal research and writing at Howard University School of Law, where she also participated in USAID-sponsored seminars in Cali, Cartagena, Bogotá and Quibdo, Colombia.
Before entering academe, Professor Doyle practiced law in the areas of mass torts and complex litigation. She was a law clerk to the Honorable Theodore A. McKee, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
She received her JD from Indiana University-Bloomington School of Law and her MA from Columbia University.
Ereshnee Naidu-Silverman, Senior Program Director, Global Initiative for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation at the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience
Dr. Naidu-Silverman oversees the flagship transitional justice program for the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, which manages dozens of projects in 17 countries engaging more than 250 local civil society organizations in Colombia, Guinea, Sri Lanka, and the Middle East and North Africa region, among other locales. The projects include violence prevention in Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire, an initiative to assist survivors of torture in Syria and a global reparations summit held in Belgrade, Serbia.
Dr. Naidu-Silverman has more than 20 years’ experience designing and implementing community outreach strategies and programs in critical post-conflict settings that include South Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Colombia, among many others. She is a seasoned educator with extensive curriculum and workshop design experience, and has broad content development, training and facilitation skills. A thought leader and global transitional justice practitioner, Dr. Naidu-Silverman pioneered the coalition’s work in transitional justice in 2014.
She received two MA degrees from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and a PhD from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Radhika Hettiarachchi, Team Leader, Community Memorialization Project
Ms. Hettiarachchi is a researcher, curator and development practitioner with over 13 years of experience in the field of peacebuilding. She uses oral history, facilitated dialogue and the arts as channels for creating a public discourse on conflict transformation, security, transitional justice, democratic values and non-recurrence of violence.
She has worked at United Nations Development Programme and International Alert in the area of conflict prevention and post-war recovery by way of creating socio-economic stabilisation through business and corporate responsibility, strengthening civil society through community dialogue, and media outreach and engaging Sri Lankan diaspora for peace.
Her work on public history includes initiating and curating the Herstories Project and the Community Memorialisation Project, both of which use verbal and non-verbal forms of expression to collect, archive and use people’s histories for non-recurrence of violence. These curated exhibitions have been used to create a public discourse at the grassroots levels in Sri Lanka and abroad. She curated the “thinkfest” Colomboscope for two years, on themes such as development and urbanity, and memory.
She received her MS in Development Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Panel 3: The Role of Foreign Courts in Transitional Justice
Federica Tronchin, Manager, Sexual & Gender-Based Violence and Middle East and North Africa Programs, Justice Rapid Response, moderator
In her role as Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Program Manager at Justice Rapid Response, Ms. Tronchin has managed partnerships and projects aimed at ensuring that gender-based violence is uncovered, investigated and prosecuted with the highest international standards by both local and international entities. As the Middle East North Africa Manager, Ms. Tronchin coordinates a range of activities that facilitate the participation of CSOs and vulnerable groups in justice processes in Syria and Iraq. Prior to joining JRR, Ms. Tronchin collaborated with CSOs in Rome and New York, and with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on a project to enhance indigenous peoples’ rights. She worked with Hands Off Cain during the advocacy campaign that led the UN General Assembly to adopt Resolution A/RES/62/149, which called for a moratorium on the death penalty. Finally, as a Lorenzin Association Fellow, she managed a research project on governance and resource management in the Saharawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria.
Naomi Roht-Arriaza, Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California Hastings College of Law
Professor Roht-Arriaza is the author of “The Pinochet Effect: Transnational Justice in the Age of Human Rights” and “Impunity and Human Rights in International Law and Practice.” She co-edited “Transitional Justice in the Twenty-First Century: Beyond Truth versus Justice.” She is a co-author of “The International Legal System: Cases and Materials” and of numerous articles on accountability for international crimes, reparations and corporate accountability.
After graduating from law school, she clerked for Judge James Browning of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. During 1991 to 1992, Professor Roht-Arriaza was the first Riesenfeld Fellow in International Law and Organizations at University of California-Berkeley School of Law. In 2011, she was a Democracy Fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and in 2012, she was a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Botswana. She is the president of the board of the Due Process of Law Foundation and a legal advisor to the Center for Justice and Accountability.
She received an MA from the UC-Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy and a JD from the UC-Berkeley School of Law.
Jamie Rowen, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Professor Rowen teaches in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her book, “Searching for Truth in the Transitional Justice Movement,” published by Cambridge University Press in 2017, examines calls for a truth commission to redress the brutal war during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, the decades-long armed conflict in Colombia and U.S. detention policies in the War on Terror. In so doing, it argues that transitional justice as an idea around which a loosely structured movement emerged and professionalized, making truth commissions a standard response to mass violence. Professor Rowen received her doctorate from the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program at the University of California-Berkeley, as well as a law degree from the UC-Berkeley School of Law. Her work has been published in the International Journal of Transitional Justice, Law and Social Inquiry and Human Rights Quarterly, among other outlets.
Maximo Langer, Professor of Law and Director, Transnational Program on Criminal Justice, University of California-Los Angeles School of Law
Professor Langer is a leading authority on domestic, comparative and international criminal law and procedure who regularly lectures in Asia, Europe and Latin America. His work has been translated into five languages and has received honors including the 2007 Hessel Yntema Prize from the American Society of Comparative Law, the 2007 Margaret Popkin Award from the Latin American Studies Association and the 2012 Deák Prize from the American Society of International Law.
Previously, Professor Langer taught at the University Torcuato DiTella School of Law in Argentina, Harvard Law School, New York University School of Law and the School of Law of Aix-Marseille University. He was the founding director of the UCLA Center for the Southern Cone. He also serves on editorial boards, including the executive editorial board of the American Journal of Comparative Law.
Professor Langer received his LLB from the University of Buenos Aires Law School and his SJD from Harvard Law School. At Harvard, he received the Edmond J. Safra Graduate Fellowship in Ethics, a Fellowship of the Center for Studies and Research in International Law and International Relations, and the Fulbright Fellowship.
Before entering academe, Professor Langer served as a clerk in Argentinean Federal District Court No. 2 and worked in white-collar criminal litigation. He directed the Non-Conventional Offenses Program at the Institute for Comparative Studies in Criminal and Social Sciences and worked as legal advisor to the Commissions of Justice and Criminal Law.
David Mandel-Anthony, Senior Policy Advisor on Transitional Justice, Office of Global Criminal Justice, U.S. Department of State and adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center
Serving as senior policy advisor in the Office of Global Criminal Justice at the U.S. Department of State, Professor Mandel-Anthony has advised the ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues since 2012 on the formulation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy for the prevention and response to mass atrocities. Professor Mandel-Anthony’s focus areas include Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guatemala, Ukraine, the Atrocity Prevention Board, the UN Human Rights Council, international criminal tribunals, transitional justice, post-conflict rule-of-law building and sexual violence in conflict.
Prior to joining the State Department, Professor Mandel-Anthony worked for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Humanity in Action, the Open Society Justice Initiative, Human Rights Watch, the Public International Law and Policy Group and the International Center for Transitional Justice. He is a fellow with the Truman National Security Project and a senior fellow with Humanity in Action.
He is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches Transitional Justice: Theory and Practice. He received his JD from Fordham University School of Law.
Symposium Organizer: Rachel López, Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Community Lawyering Clinic, Drexel University Kline School of Law
Professor López teaches international human rights law and directs the Community Lawyering Clinic. As clinic director, she supervises law students on diverse legal matters and projects that address systemic challenges facing the communities that neighbor Drexel's campus. In 2015, Governor Tom Wolf appointed Professor López to the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, which sets the sentencing and parole guidelines for the state.
Her scholarship focuses primarily on accountability for human rights violations, reforms to transitional justice mechanisms and models for collective representation. Her articles have appeared in law journals at NYU, Duke, Washington University in Saint Louis and the University of Pennsylvania. As a Fulbright Scholar and then a Schell Visiting Fellow at Yale Law School, she researched transitional justice meant to address the internal armed conflict and the genocide of indigenous Mayans in 1980s Guatemala.
Prior to joining the Drexel faculty, she taught at Seton Hall University School of Law. Previously, she clerked for the New Mexico Supreme Court and worked on anti-corruptions efforts with the Open Society Justice Initiative in New York and its partner, Citizen Governance Initiatives in Cameroon. She has also worked at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.