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Kim Thuy Seelinger

Kim Thuy Seelinger focuses on sexual and gender-based violence in the context of armed conflict and forced displacement. A Visiting Professor at the Law School, Seelinger is a Research Associate Professor at the Brown School of Social Work, Public Health, and Social Policy. She will also serve as the inaugural director of a new Center on Gender, Migration, and Human Rights, based at the Washington University in St. Louis Institute for Public Health.

Seelinger teaches courses on refugee protection, wartime sexual violence, the investigation of international crimes, and the application of international criminal law in national judicial systems. In addition to teaching, Seelinger conducts cross-disciplinary research on the complexities of providing protection from, and accountability for, conflict-related sexual violence. Seelinger also provides technical assistance to international and local actors working on war crimes trials, legislative reform, and programming to improve support services to atrocity survivors. Most recently, she intervened in the successful prosecution of Hissène Habré, the former president of Chad, and that of Thomas Kwoyelo in Uganda. At the policy level, Seelinger serves on the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ Advisory Group on Gender, Forced Displacement, and Protection and was an expert commentator on the International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict (2014, 2017). She serves as the President of the Board of Civitas Maxima, a Swiss-based organization that conducts war crimes investigations in partnership with African human rights defenders. Her current work focuses on refugee protection in Central America, Greece, and at the US Southern border, as well as improving access to healthcare and legal aid for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in Uganda and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Prior to joining Washington University School of Law, Seelinger taught at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where she directed the award-winning Sexual Violence Program at the Human Rights Center from 2010-2019. Before her work at Berkeley, Seelinger focused on gender-asylum cases and policy as a Staff Attorney at the University of California, Hastings, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies. She started her legal career as a Kirkland and Ellis Public Interest Law Fellow with the Lutheran Family and Community Services in New York City, where she provided deportation defense to low-income immigrants in the immediate wake of 9/11.

Seelinger has won several awards including the Women of Berkeley Law’s “Women Advancing the Law – Practitioner of the Year” Award (2019), the International Association for Gender Equity and the Law “Human Rights and Leadership Award” (2017), a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency (2016), and the Kathi Pugh Award for Exceptional Mentorship of Berkeley Law Students (2015). Her writing has appeared in several academic and news journals, including the California Law Review (online), the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Foreign Affairs, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and PLOS Medicine. She is co-editing a volume on the trial of Hissène Habré, forthcoming from Oxford University Press (2020).

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  • Education
    • JD, NYU School of Law, 2002
  • Courses
    • Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict
    • Comparative Refugee Law
    • Human Rights Investigations
  • Areas of Expertise
    • Asylum and refugee law
    • Gender-based violence
    • International criminal law
    • International human rights
    • Transitional justice
    • Working with survivors of trauma
    • Interdisciplinary approaches to human rights and international crimes
  • Publications
    • “First hope, last hope, false hope? Prosecuting sexual violence as an international crime in national courts,” Journal of International Criminal Justice – Special Issue, forthcoming, October 2019.
    • Weill, Sharon, Kim Thuy Seelinger, and Kerstin Bree Carlson (co-eds.), Prosecuting a President: The Trial of Hissène Habré and Implications for International Criminal Justice. Oxford University Press. Forthcoming, 2020.
    • Seelinger, Kim Thuy and Elisabeth Wood. “Wartime Sexual Violence as Practice, not Policy,” Oxford Handbook on Atrocity Crimes. Hola, Brehm, Weerdesteijn (eds.), Oxford University Press. Forthcoming, 2019.
    • Freccero J, Biswas D, Whiting A, Alrabe K, Seelinger KT. “Sexual exploitation of unaccompanied migrant and refugee boys in Greece: Approaches to prevention,” PLOS Medicine 14(11): e1002438 (2017).
    • “Rape and the President: The remarkable trial and (partial) acquittal of Hissène Habré,” World Policy Journal, 34(2), 16-22 (2017).
    • “Three (Surprise) Gifts: The Unexpected Emergence of Sexual Violence in the Trial of Hissène Habré.” Africa Legal Aid Quarterly, April 2017.
    • “Uganda’s Case of Thomas Kwoyelo: Customary International Law on Trial,” 8 Cal. L. Rev. Online 19 (2017).
    • “The Landmark Trial Against Dictator Hissène Habré: Serving Justice in Chad, Making History in Senegal,” Foreign Affairs, 16 June 2016.
    • “Improving Accountability for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Africa,” United States Institute for Peace, Peace Brief No. 206 (2016). (With Ketty Anyeko and Julie Freccero.)
    • “Building the Base: Local Accountability for Conflict-Period Sexual Violence,” Africa and the International Criminal Court: One Decade On, Intersentia Press (2016). (With Julie Freccero.)
    • “Domestic accountability for sexual violence: The potential of specialized units in Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda,” 96 Int. Rev. Red Cross 539 (2014).
    • “Forced Marriage and Asylum: Perceiving the Invisible Harm,” 42 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 55 (2010).
    • “Violence Against Women and HIV Control in Uganda: A Paradox of Protection?” 33 Hastings Int’l & Comp. L. Rev. 345 (2010).
    • “Kasinga’s Protection Undermined? Recent Developments in Female Genital Cutting Jurisprudence,” 13 Bender’s Immigration Bulletin, No. 1073 (2008). (With Lisa Frydman)

    Reports

    • “Intimate Partner Violence and Asylum: Eligibility for and Access to Protection in the Americas,” Human Rights Center and UNHCR – Americas Region (with Julia Uyttewaal, Daniela Huerta-Garcia and Daisy Franco). Forthcoming, 2019.
    • “The Silence I Carry: Disclosing Gender-based Violence during Central American Migration,” Human Rights Center and UNHCR – Americas Region, 2018. (With Julia Uyttewaal)
    • “The Long Road: Accountability for Sexual Violence in Conflict and Post-Conflict Settings,” Human Rights Center, August 2015. (With Julie Freccero)
    • “Safe Haven: Sheltering Displaced Persons from Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. Comparative Report,” Human Rights Center, May 2013. (With Julie Freccero)
    • “Safe Haven: Sheltering Displaced Persons from Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. Case Study: Haiti,” Human Rights Center, May 2013. (With Dr. Laura Rose Wagner)
    • “Safe Haven: Sheltering Displaced Persons from Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. Case Study: Kenya,” Human Rights Center, May 2013. (With Dr. Rebecca Horn)
    • “Kenya’s 2006 Sexual Offences Act: Implementation Workshop Report,” Human Rights Center, April, 2012.
    • “Sexual Violence: Investigations and Prosecutions,” Human Rights Center Working Paper Series, May, 2011. (With Drs. Helene Silverberg and Robin Mejia)
  • Activity and Affiliations
    • Nobel Committee, advisor for 2018 Peace Prize deliberation process
    • European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, expert advisor on conflict-related sexual violence litigation strategies, 2018 to present
    • UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ Advisory Group on Gender, Forced Displacement, and Protection, Member (2016 to present)
    • UN Area of Responsibility for Gender-based Violence Task Force on Research and Information Management, Member (2016 to present)
    • Founding supervising attorney, Berkeley Law International Human Rights Workshop (2012 to present)
    • Civitas Maxima (international war crimes investigations team) – Advisory Board Member, (2013-2016), UK Trustee (2015-present), President of Executive Committee (2016-present)
    • Refugee Law Clinics Germany (first network of university-based legal aid clinics for refugees in Germany) – Advisory Board member (2017 to present)
    • Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (refugee rights coalition in the US), executive committee and board member (2009-2012)
    • Pro bono attorney / mentor for Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Asian Law Caucus, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights – Asylum Program, Sanctuary Covenant of the East Bay, and Vietnamese Bar Association of Northern California. (Various terms, 2005-2012)
    • Reviewer for PLOS Medicine, Journal of Human Rights Practice, Social Politics, UC Press, and the Global Challenges Foundation, Stockholm Admitted to New York State Bar, Second Appellate Division (2003 to present)
  • Honors and Awards
    • 2019 Women of Berkeley Law’s “Women Advancing the Law – Practitioner of the Year” Award
    • 2017 International Association for Gender Equity and the Law “Human Rights and Leadership Award”
    • 2016 Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency; UN Assoc. of the East Bay “Global Citizen Award”
    • 2016 UN Association of the East Bay “Global Citizen” Award
    • 2015 Kathi Pugh Award for Exceptional Mentorship of Berkeley Law Students
    • 2015 STAR Achievement Award, University of California, Berkeley
    • 2015 Program nominated for MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions (awarded to HRC)
    • 2002 Kirkland & Ellis NYC Public Interest Fellow
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