Accountability: An Essential Element of the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda

Event Date: 
Monday, October 21, 2013
Event Time: 
1:00 p.m.
Location: 
United Nations, New York

The Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination will co-sponsor a lecture and discussion, "Accountability: An Essential Element of the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda," on Monday, October 21, 2013, at 1:00 p.m. at the United Nations in New York, North Lawn Building (CR7). The featured speaker will be Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The event is part of a series of lectures and panels on the UN's Women, Peace, and Security Agenda, organized by LISD's Program on Women in the Global Community, the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations, and the PeaceWomen Project of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. To attend the event, RSVP to the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the UN

The event will be webcast live and available for later viewing on UN Web TV and LISD's YouTube Channel.

In her lecture, Navi Pillay will highlight the importance of accountability for an effective implementation of the women, peace, and security agenda and will outline challenges and promising practices concerning the integration of a gender perspective in criminal prosecution, reparations, truth and reconciliation commissions, and institutional reforms. Women and girls continue to experience all forms of physical, sexual, and psychological violence in modern conflicts and crisis. For far too many women who have been victims of serious wartime crimes, prospects of having the perpetrators brought to justice are very remote, as are prospects of reparations for the harms suffered. Promoting accountability for violence that women and girls have suffered during conflict, political strife, and instability is essential. Without accountability, human rights will be denied, crime will flourish, and impunity for past crimes will persist, undermining legitimacy and prospects for reconciliation. Accountability should be intended as encompassing processes, norms, and structures to hold individuals and entities accountable for their actions, impose adequate sanctions, ensure remedies for survivors, address impunity for past crimes, and avoid repetitions of violations in the future. Such processes, norms, and structures must be built on fundamental principles of equality and non-discrimination and fully take into account women’s and girls’ experience of conflict and instability. 

The appointment of Navi Pillay as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was approved by the General Assembly on July 28, 2008, and her mandate has been renewed for two years beginning in September 2012.

Pillay, a South African national, was the first woman to start a law practice in her home province of Natal in 1967. Over the next few years, she acted as a defense attorney for anti-apartheid activists, exposing torture, and helping establish key rights for prisoners on Robben Island. She also worked as a lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and later was appointed Vice-President of the Council of the University of Durban Westville. In 1995, after the end of apartheid, Pillay was appointed as acting judge on the South African High Court, and in the same year was elected by the UN General Assembly to be a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she served a total of eight years, the last four (1999-2003) as President. She played a critical role in the ICTR's groundbreaking jurisprudence on rape as genocide, as well as on issues of freedom of speech and hate propaganda. In 2003, she was appointed as a judge on the International Criminal Court in the Hague, where she served on the Appeals Chamber until August 2008.

In South Africa, as a member of the Women's National Coalition, Pillay contributed to the inclusion of the equality clause in the country’s Constitution that prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, gender, religion and sexual orientation. She co-founded Equality Now, an international women's rights organization, and has been involved with other organizations working on issues relating to children, detainees, victims of torture and of domestic violence, and a range of economic, social and cultural rights.

Pillay received a BA and a LLB from Natal University South Africa. She also holds a Master of Law and a Doctorate of Juridical Science from Harvard University.