Rangita de Silva de Alwis leads “Policy Lab on Conflict,” which convenes international policymakers to examine recent conflicts and propose policy imperatives from an intersectional, post-colonial perspective.
On Monday, September 11, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s “Policy Lab on Conflict: New Debates in Women, Peace and Security” will host leading international policymakers to focus a gender lens on the most recent conflicts afflicting regions around the globe.
Taught by international women’s rights expert Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Senior Adjunct Professor of Global Leadership and Member-Elect to the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the “Policy Lab on Conflict” presents Penn Carey Law students with unique opportunities to collaborate with non-permanent members of the UN Security Council to examine impact of recent conflicts on women and women’s roles as peace builders.
The class will analyze the root causes of recent conflicts and explore how the confluence of war, climate, and colonization disproportionately impact the lives and livelihoods of women.
In collaboration with Ambassador Ammo Baroud of Chad and H.E. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the former Vice President of South Africa, the policy lab will explore a range of issues affecting the Sahel region, one of the most conflict-heavy regions in the world.
The Lake Chad Basin crisis has long been recognized as one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters due to severe harm caused by climate change, colonization, and conflict. Multiple complex crises—food insecurity, reduced access to water, migration, and the feminization of poverty—impact the region’s women and girls.
Students in the policy lab will also work with H.E. Sima Samr, the former Vice President of Afghanistan. Afghanistan remains the only country in the world that denies girls’ and women’s access to education. The policy lab will explore efforts to hold the Taliban, Afghanistan’s de facto regime, accountable for gender persecution under the Rome Statute.
At the end of the semester, students participating in the Policy Lab will co-author a model UN Security Council resolution that provides new policy imperatives from an intersectional and post-colonial perspective.
“The Policy Lab’s model Security Council Resolution will act as a blueprint for new thinking on current debates on gender persecution and the evolving concept of gender apartheid,” de Silva de Alwis said.
“We will share this model with leaders in the British Parliament and the International Bar Association who are working on these new areas of accountability measures.”
The course also critiques the hierarchy of violence created by the paradigm of “conflict-related sexual violence” and calls for a more nuanced structural analysis that views violences as layered, rather than episodic, and highlights the overlap between interpersonal and structural violence during war and conflict.
“The Policy Lab aims to engage students with the critical intersection of security and human rights, not just as scholars but also as decision-makers,” said Nabil Shaikh L’24.
“The class will engage with existing resolutions and hear from speakers who advised and advocated before the UN on security issues. Accordingly, the policy lab provides a rich education in both the study and the practice of multilateral policymaking.”