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New Centre for Women, Peace and Security launched at LSE by William Hague and Angelina Jolie Pitt

LSE today hosted First Secretary of State William Hague and UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt to launch the UK’s first academic Centre on Women, Peace and Security, to be based at the School.

Mr Hague and Ms Jolie Pitt announced the establishment of the ground-breaking initiative to students and academic colleagues with LSE Director Professor Craig Calhoun and Professor Christine Chinkin, who will lead the new centre. It will focus on the participation of women in conflict-related processes and on enhancing accountability and ending impunity for rape and sexual violence in war.

Angelina Jolie Pitt and William Hague

The Centre marks a collaboration between LSE, Mr Hague, Ms Jolie Pitt and the UK Government.  It will support the aims of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI), co-founded in 2012 by Mr Hague and Ms Jolie Pitt, by bringing academic expertise to bear on preventing crimes of sexual violence, holding perpetrators to account and protecting the rights of survivors. From 2016 the Centre will provide a post-graduate teaching programme in Women, Peace and Security, leading to an MSc degree.

LSE has recently announced the creation of a new Institute of Global Affairs which will host the Centre on Women, Peace and Security. The choice of LSE as host university for the Centre reflects both its international reach and its focus on issues of global concern.

Professor Calhoun said,

“This Centre is a remarkable opportunity for us to bring together academic and policy experts and those in the front line of tackling violence against women. LSE has always had at the heart of its mission the goal of translating education – research and teaching – into solving real-world problems. This new initiative represents precisely that aim. I am delighted to have worked with William Hague and Angelina Jolie Pitt in bringing this project together, and I am very excited about the possibilities it brings.

Mr Hague, founding the new centre with Ms Jolie Pitt, said,

“By founding this Centre LSE is setting an impressive example to other universities in the UK and around the world. I'm delighted that as we take forward the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative we'll be able to work with the UK’s first academic centre on Women, Peace and Security at the LSE, providing the ideas and rigorous academic understanding needed to expand equal rights, equal freedom and equal opportunity for women everywhere.”

Ms Jolie Pitt said,

“I am excited at the thought of all the students in years to come who will study in this new Centre. There is no stable future for a world in which crimes committed against women go unpunished. We need the next generation of educated youth with inquisitive minds and fresh energy, who are willing not only to sit in the classroom but to go out into the field and the courtrooms and to make a decisive difference."

Professor Chinkin said,

“I am honoured to be the inaugural Director of such a ground-breaking initiative. I look forward to working with colleagues across and beyond the academic world in helping to make the world a better place for women.”

The Centre also received a message of support from US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton


A podcast of the event can be found here.
For transcripts of the speeches given be Ms Jolie Pitt and Mr Hague, click here.
Photos of the event can be viewed here.

Craig Calhoun is Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science and a world-renowned social scientist whose work connects sociology to culture, communication, politics, philosophy and economics. Professor Calhoun took up his post as LSE Director on 1 September 2012, having left the United States where he was University Professor at New York University and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge and President of the Social Science Research Council.  Professor Calhoun took a DPhil in History and Sociology at Oxford University and a Master's in Social Anthropology at Manchester. He co-founded, with Richard Sennett, Professor of Sociology at LSE, the NYLON programme which brings together graduate students from New York and London for co-operative research programmes. He is the author of several books including Nations Matter, Critical Social Theory, Neither Gods Nor Emperors and most recently The Roots of Radicalism (University of Chicago Press, 2012).  

Christine Chinkin is a former Professor of International Law at the LSE and 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 W. Cook Global Law Professor, University of Michigan and has been a Scholar in Residence for Amnesty International (2005), as well as Visiting Professor at Columbia University (2004) and the, Australian National University (2003, 2012), the Xiamen Academy of International Law (2010) and United Nations University, Tokyo, (2011). A short film celebrating her research and more on the ways she has worked in international law to change the way governments work to protect women's rights can be found here: http://www.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/researchImpact/caseStudies/chinkin-making-world-safer-place-women.aspx

The Centre will provide a leading academic space in Europe where scholars, practitioners, activists, policy-makers and others can develop strategies to promote justice, human rights and political participation for women in conflict areas around the world, and to influence the thinking of governments.  Through inter-disciplinary research, teaching, public engagement and collaboration with international institutions and NGOs, the Centre will contribute to global efforts to address violence against women in armed conflict and conflict-affected situations, including sexual violence.

The aims of the LSE Centre include:

  • To develop research and practice in issues relating to women, peace and security and sexual violence in armed conflict and conflict-affected settings.
  • To bring together world-class scholars at LSE to advance research in this area, and influence global policy-making.
  • To build partnerships with those working on issues of women, peace and security and gender-based violence in armed conflict, including UN bodies and agencies, regional bodies, government agencies, military personnel and NGOs.
  • To consolidate and improve academic and international knowledge concerning women, peace, and security.

In recent years there has been growing international recognition of the critical need to address sexual violence in conflict.  Through a series of UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) the United Nations has repeatedly condemned and called for the end to all forms of sexual violence against women and children in situations of armed conflict and made clear their link to wider international conflict prevention efforts.  But, sexual violence in armed conflict has continued to occur, often reaching appalling and frequent levels of brutality.

Based firmly on the belief that the UK has the moral obligation and the diplomatic power to change this, on 29 May 2012 then Foreign Secretary William Hague launched the PSVI campaign with the Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Angelina Jolie Pitt.  The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness, rally global action, promote greater international coherence and increase the political will and capacity of states to do more to address the culture of impunity that exists for these crimes, to increase the number of perpetrators held to account and to ensure better support for survivors.  

10 February 2015