Guiding Principles on Prosecuting Sexual Violence and new PhD Project start on Missing Migrants

Former PhD student Ellie Smith, now a consultant and trainer specialising in legal, medical and psychological issues affecting victims of international crimes in their pursuit of justice, has co-authored Guiding Principles and Recommendations to improve the cooperation between Civil Society Actors and Judicial Mechanisms in the Prosecution of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence.

Sexual violence against women, girls, boys and men can have devastating, long-term physical, psychological and societal consequences for survivors, and may serveto exacerbate ethnic divisions within affected communities, perpetuating cycles of violence and undermining peace-building efforts. Despite this, however, the vast majority of survivors never achieve justice, recognition or assistance in rebuilding their lives. At the same time, impunity for perpetrators threatens to escalate, rather than to diminish the commission ofsexual crimes. The Guiding Principles and Recommendations recognise that the prosecution of such crimes is not without its challenges. They focus on the building of cooperative relationships with civil society actors as a significant means of surmounting many of the difficulties faced.

In a second bit of news, a fully funded PhD studentship has been awarded to LLM student Luke Nwibo Eda for his research proposal on ‘Missing Migrants: legal obligations and psychosocial implications for families’. This research is timely in addressing another key societal challenge. The international organization for migration (IOM) estimates that at least 4,077 migrants died in 2014, and at least 40,000 since the year 2000. The actual number of death toll is likely to be higher, as many deaths occur in isolated regions of the world and are never recorded. Generally, international human rights law places duties on states, derived from international treaties, to identify the dead and respect the rights of the families of missing migrants. This project will examine these obligations and to what extent state policies comply with legal requirements and what effect they may have on migrants when deciding to embark on their often dangerous journeys.