Mutua to Address Pan African Conference on Gender-Based Violence

Release Date: July 21, 2008 This content is archived.


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UB Law School Dean Makau Mutua will present the keynote address at an international conference in Kenya on gender-based violence.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo Law School Dean Makau W. Mutua will deliver a keynote speech at this week's Pan-African conference in Nairobi, Kenya, devoted to administering justice to those responsible for sexual and gender-biased violence in countries besieged by conflict and civil unrest.

Mutua will speak on "Transitional and Restorative Justice: Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Context" in the conference's opening program today in the Sarova Panafric Hotel. Appointed dean in May, Mutua is the 18th dean of the UB Law School, a SUNY Distinguished Professor and the Floyd H. and Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar.

The conference brings some of Africa's leading scholars together to discuss the extreme violence many women suffer when their countries endure civil strife, armed conflict or natural and manmade disasters. Those taking part in the conference hope to develop an advocacy platform to protect women from violence during and after these times of conflicts.

Mutua's speech focuses on transitional justice, government attempts to address human rights violations that took place during times of unrest. Mutua also will be a featured panelist in a roundtable discussion to develop a measured plan for governments to address past injustices, particularly against women.

"Only in the last decade have we seen serious attempts to remove women's rights from the ghetto of the rights discourse," Mutua says. "This is our challenge at this conference, and in the human rights movement, particularly in the context of transitional justice in Africa.

"How do we de-marginalize women's rights questions in the construction of transitional justice vehicles? In particular, how do civil society, academics, states, funding organizations and intergovernmental organizations address -- in serious ways -- the problems of sexual and gender violence in transitional justice contexts?

"We know from the historical record that sexual and gender violence is arguably the most predominant abomination in civil conflicts and wars. Yet we also know that this egregious form of violence is either never reported, or rarely attracts the attention of the media."

Mutua is recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities on human rights law. He is a member of the executive council and the executive committee of the American Society of International Law (ASIL), the most prestigious and largest organization of international lawyers in the world. He serves as chairman of the Kenya Human Rights Commission and sits on the boards of several international organizations.

While on sabbatical in his native Kenya, Mutua was appointed by the Kenyan government to chair the Task Force on the Establishment of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. He also was a delegate to the National Constitutional Conference, the forum that produced a contested draft constitution for Kenya.

Since its founding in 1887, the University at Buffalo Law School -- the State University of New York system's only law school -- has established an excellent reputation and is widely regarded as a leader in legal education. Its cutting-edge curriculum provides both a strong theoretical foundation and the practical tools graduates need to succeed in a competitive marketplace, wherever they choose to practice. A special emphasis on interdisciplinary studies, public service and opportunities for hands-on clinical education makes UB Law unique among the nation's premier public law schools.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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