Radhika Coomaraswamy, United Nations special representative for Children and Armed Conflict, will address the many challenges in protecting boys and girls affected by armed conflict during her 7 p.m. appearance at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Theatre tonight.
Coomaraswamy, a lawyer by training and formerly the chairperson of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission, served previously as U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (1994 to 2003), in which she reported to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on violence in the family, violence in the community, violence against women during armed conflict and the problem of international trafficking. She has served as a member of the Global Faculty of the New York University School of Law and has published widely, including two books on constitutional law and numerous articles on ethnic studies and the status of women.
Diana Kutlow, program officer at the IPJ, said, “As the most vulnerable in any society, children are disproportionately affected by war — they are recruited into armies and rebel groups, bought and sold, raped, displaced, maimed and killed. Radhika Coomaraswamy’s job is to convince governments and other violators that it is in their best interests to protect children, even in conflict zones. After all, it is hard to argue that they shouldn’t be protected, but the real challenge is in implementing protection measures.”
Coomaraswamy has won many awards including the International Law Award of the American Bar Association, the Human Rights Award of the International Human Rights Law Group, and the Leo Ettinger Human Rights Prize of the University of Oslo.
“Protecting children is something that everyone can agree on, even the most repressive governments or violent rebel groups,” Kutlow said. “The challenge Ms. Coomaraswamy and the U.N. faces is in finding ways to implement protection measures and evaluate their effectiveness.”
Tonight’s event is free and open to the public and the press, but registration is required. To RSVP, click here.
— Melissa Wagoner