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Bok Course: Women, Peace, and Security (Coomaraswamy)
Fall 2019   LAW 547-001  

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Meeting Times/Location
TWR 1:30PM - 2:50PM
Golkin Hall 238
This course meets during a special session:
(10/15/19 - 10/24/19)

Radhika Coomaraswamy

Bok Visiting International Professor

Additional Information
Satisfies Senior Writing Requirement




The bronze sculpture "Let Us Beat Our Swords into Ploughshares," was created by Soviet artist Evgeny Vuchetich, and presented to the United Nations on 4 December 1959 by the Government of the USSR. The sculpture, depicting the figure of a man holding a hammer aloft in one hand and a sword in the other, which he is making into a ploughshare, is meant to symbolize man's desire to put an end to war, and to convert the means of destruction into creative tools for the benefit of mankind. Until the year 2000, when UN Resolution 1325 was adopted, the recognition that peace is inextricably linked with gender equality and women’s leadership was a radical idea for the UN- the highest body tasked with the maintenance of international peace and security. As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference for Women, and 20 years of the Resolution 1325, there is added momentum that women’s leadership is important not just for conflict resolution but for the prevention of conflict and that discrimination against women is often an indicator of conflict. This seminar will critically examine the normative framework for women peace and security and some important case studies of women’s inclusion and exclusion from the peace processes, in transitional justice, and post conflict nation- building initiatives. This course will critically examine case studies of conflict and peace building from the field.

This class will meet 10/15-10/24; T,W,Th 1:30-2:50. Drops will be accepted after the first class.

The course will be co- taught by UN Under Secretary General Radhika Coomaraswamy, Bok Faculty and Associate Dean of International Affairs Rangita de Silva de Alwis Under Secretary General Coomaraswamy is the former UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. Before that, she was the first Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women. She started her career as a constitutional lawyer. She was also Chairperson of the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission. She has been a strong voice for women's international human rights and has written extensively on the subject while serving as the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women. Her annual reports covered thematic issues, and her country visits - to look at comfort women in Japan, women trafficked in Nepal and Poland, women victims of domestic violence and rape in Brazil and South Africa and women in US prisons - explored the actual impact of international norms in specific contexts.

As the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, she was in charge of preparing the annual report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict. As a result she developed an expertise on the protection of civilians, especially children in the context of armed conflict. She has also visited conflict areas throughout the world from Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire, Myanmar, Israel and Palestine and Southern Thailand, advocating for the rights of children and meeting with state and non-state actors to protect children from grave violations. Currently, she is on the High Level Fact Finding Group on Human Rights in Myanmar and on the Secretary General’s High Level Mediation Group. She received her BA from Yale, her JD from Columbia, and her LLM from Harvard.

Course Concentrations

International and Comparative Law
Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of international and comparative law, both substantively and procedurally; Perform legal analysis in the context of international and comparative law; Communicate effectively on topics related to international and comparative law; Demonstrate an understanding of the role of international and comparative law, and their interconnection with domestic law.

Perspectives on the Law
Learning outcomes: Demonstrate an understanding of how the law affects, and is affected by, the individual course topic; Perform legal analysis in the context of the individual course topic; Communicate effectively on the legal and other aspects of the individual course topic; Demonstrate the ability to use other disciplines to analyze legal issues relevant to the individual course topic, including economics, philosophy, and sociology, as appropriate.

Equity and Inclusion
Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of the varied legal aspects of equity and inclusion; Perform legal analysis in the context of topics related to equity and inclusion; Communicate effectively on the legal aspects of equity and inclusion; Demonstrate an understanding of how equity and inclusion are connected to and affected by a wide variety of legal and regulatory structures and doctrines.

Women, Leadership, and the Law