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“Gender and Post-Conflict Reconstruction”

(Boston, 11/17/09) New England Law | Boston: Wars and internal dislocations can fragment nations and the cohesiveness of their communities, prompting major rebuilding of infrastructure and institutions when the guns go silent.  The need for gender to be placed central in these efforts was  the focus of this year’s New England Law | Boston Anna E. Hirsch Lecture, “Gender and Post-Conflict Reconstruction.”

This year's lecture in the annual series was held on Thursday, October 1.  Dean John F. O’Brien commented, “This important and timely presentation featured two notable scholars in the field of human rights law.”

 Professor Naomi Cahn
Professor Naomi Cahn

The presenters, Naomi Cahn and Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, are currently collaborating with New England Law Professor Dina Haynes on a book to be entitled No Shame. The complex issues raised by their lecture were explored in greater depth in that book.

Professor Haynes comments, “While international  tribunals have recognized the considerable impact of gender crimes in ethnic and internal conflicts, the post-conflict reconstruction process has not yet adequately taken account of the gendered nature of war and peacebuilding.”

Naomi Cahn is the John Theodore Fey Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School. She has written numerous law review articles on family law, adoption, and reproductive technology, in publications ranging from the Stanford Law Review to the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism.

Professor Cahn's book, Test Tube Families: Why the Fertility Markets Need Legal Regulation, was just published in 2009 by NYU Press and has been reviewed by, among other sources, the New England Journal of Medicine. She is the co-author of Red Families v. Blue Families, which is forthcoming from Oxford University Press and which has been discussed in the New Yorker. Professor Cahn is a senior fellow at the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and a member of the Yale Cultural Cognition Project, for which she is conducting research on public attitudes towards gay and lesbian parenting.

 Professor Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin
Professor Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin

Prior to joining the George Washington faculty in 1993, Professor Cahn practiced with Hogan & Hartson in Washington, DC, and as a staff attorney with Philadelphia's Community Legal Services, where she represented clients in the abuse and neglect system. She received her LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center, her J.D. from Columbia Law School, and her A.B. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin is concurrently the Dorsey & Whitney Chair in Law at the University of Minnesota Law School and a professor of law at the University of Ulster's Transitional Justice Institute in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is co-founder and associate director of the institute.

Professor Ní Aoláin's academic appointments have included Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School, Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, Hebrew University (Jerusalem), and Princeton University. Her academic awards and honors include a Fulbright scholarship, the Alon Prize, the Robert Schumann Scholarship, a European Commission award, and the Lawlor fellowship.

Professor Ní Aoláin's teaching and research interests are in the fields of international law, human rights law, national security law, and feminist legal theory. She has published extensively in the fields of emergency powers, conflict regulation, transitional justice, and sex-based violence in times of war. Her most recent book, Law in Times of Crisis (Cambridge University Press, 2006), was awarded the American Society of International Law's preeminent prize. She was a representative of the prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at domestic war crimes trials in Bosnia (1996-97). In 2003, she was appointed by the UN secretary-general as special expert on promoting gender equality in times of conflict and peace-making.

She was nominated to the European Court of Human Rights in 2004 and 2007, and served on the Irish Human Rights Commission from 2000 to 2005. Professor Ní Aoláin received her LL.B. and Ph.D. from Queen's University (Belfast) and her LL.M. from Columbia Law School.

The annual lecture series is named in honor of Anna E. Hirsch ’28, the law school's first woman president and a mentor to female faculty and students. In 1954, Hirsch became the first woman elected as registrar of probate in Norfolk County, and only the second woman elected to countywide office in Massachusetts. New England Law was founded as Portia Law School, the first law school in America for women, and in 1966, Hirsch joined Portia’s Board of Trustees. In 1983 she was elected president of the law school, the first alumnus and first woman chosen for this office.

For further information about the lecture, please contact Professor Haynes at 617-422-7269,




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