Rethinking Rape Law: Akayesu 10 Years On – 2nd & 3rd July 2008, Durham University

Book Now! Early Bird Reductions Only Available To 28 March 2008! (* see below)

On the 10th anniversary of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s ground-breaking Akayesu judgment, an international conference is being held in Durham University to rethink rape law from national, international and European perspectives. The conference will debate rape law reform at the national level, where many countries are reconsidering their sexual offence laws; it will examine the different policies and practices across Europe; and it will consider recent developments in international law and policy. It will ask, how crucial are women judges, lawyers and activists to securing lasting change?

The conference will be opened by Judge Navanethem Pillay, of the International Criminal Court and formerly of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, who will reflect on the part she played in securing, in Akayesu, the first international conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity based on rape.

Other plenary speakers at the conference include:
o Professor Catharine MacKinnon, a scholar and activist of global renown, has been one of the most important and influential commentators on the Akayesu judgment, as well as on sexual violence generally;
o Professor Karen Engle has written extensively on international human rights and sexual violence and particularly on the challenges for feminism in these fields of law; and
o Jessica Neuwirth is co-founder and President of Equality Now, the internationally acclaimed organisation campaigning to end violence against women and girls around the world;
o Vera Baird QC, MP is the Solicitor General for England & Wales and has played a central role in bringing about change in the way rape is prosecuted and in the treatment of rape victims;
o Professor Liz Kelly of the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit at London Metropolitan University will debate the first results of her comparative research on the policing and prosecution of rape cases throughout Europe.

The conference will also hold sessions entitled:
o Rethinking rape law: what can we learn from elsewhere?;
o Rethinking rape law: roundtable discussion on the role of women lawyers, judges and activists;
o Rethinking rape law: where next?

The aim of the conference is to bring together scholars, activists, policy-makers, lawyers and all persons interested in rape law and policy. The plenary speakers and wider sessions aim to spark debate among participants, so that there is full debate and discussion.

The conference is being held in the historic and picturesque city of Durham in the north east of England. The conference will be held in the recently opened Calman Learning Centre, with its unrivalled views of Durham Cathedral, and the Conference Dinner and accommodation will be in Durham Castle, which is part of the University.

* We have received an email saying the ‘early bird’ discount booking has been extended to 31st March – please contact for details. For more details about the conference please contact

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