New academic centre focuses on women in conflict

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Professor Chinkin helped to launch the Centre in February alongside Secretary of State William Hague, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt, and LSE Director Professor Craig Calhoun. 

The Centre for Women, Peace and Security, situated within the Institute of Global Affairs, has been launched at LSE. This ground-breaking initiative, the first of its kind in Europe, will focus on increasing accountability and ending impunity for rape and sexual violence in war, while closely examining the participation of women in conflict-related processes. 

Bringing academic expertise to bear on preventing crimes of sexual violence and holding perpetrators to account and protecting the rights of survivors, the Centre will also provide a postgraduate teaching programme in Women, Peace and Security, leading to an MSc degree. It will be led by Professor Christine Chinkin, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Law. Professor Chinkin helped to launch the Centre in February alongside Secretary of State William Hague, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt, and LSE Director Professor Craig Calhoun. The establishment of the Centre is being supported by seed funding from the Ministry of Defence.

The launch at LSE follows the founding of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) by Mr Hague and Ms Jolie Pitt in 2012. “LSE is setting an impressive example to other universities in the UK,” said Mr Hague. “We need new and innovative partnerships. Angelina and I have taken this campaign to the G8, the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, and at each stage we have been able to break new ground. But in this process we have discovered major gaps in international understanding of how and why sexual violence occurs and how best to prevent it. This convinced us of the need for greater academic underpinning of these issues and the most effective ways of tackling them – so this Centre will be a part of a network, working not only to shatter impunity for sexual violence in conflict but also to advance the rights of women.” 

“This Centre is being set up by a university that focuses on shaping the world,” said Ms Jolie Pitt. “Because a world without a clear path to defend and strengthen women is a world out of balance. If you were to ask me who I think this Centre is for, I think of a girl I met in Iraq three weeks ago who may never be able to complete her education, or get married, or have a family, because in her society victims of rape are shunned and considered shameful. To my mind, what we have began today at LSE is for her and others like her, all those who pay the price for the culture of impunity for crimes against women and our collective failure to prevent conflict. Where LSE leads, I hope others will follow.”

Professor Chinkin

Professor Chinkin joined LSE as Professor of International Law in 1997. Her research has consistently related to making the world a better, safer place for women, encouraging policy makers to rethink and restructure the discipline of international law – both to eliminate its structural bias against women and to expand notions of state responsibility. She was involved as an adviser to the ‘Istanbul Convention’ of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, the world's first legally binding instrument to create a comprehensive international legal framework to prevent and combat violence against women, protect victims and end the impunity of perpetrators. Her research into combating sexual violence in armed conflict has helped inform the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), among others. Her research was submitted as part of LSE’s overall submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF).    

The School is now seeking philanthropic support to help ensure the Centre has the widest possible reach, is able to attract distinguished scholars and ‘activists in residence’, and can make a ground-breaking impact on public understanding and policy. If you are interested in supporting the Centre on Women, Peace and Security, please contact Samira Mezroui, Foundation Partnerships Officer on +44 (0)20 7852 3685 ors.mezroui@lse.ac.uk