Navi Pillay at the Centre on Law and Social Transformation

Navanethem “Navi” Pillay – former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, judge of the International Criminal Court and President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda – held an exclusive meeting with students at the University of Bergen on Tuesday 22 November 2016.

She visited Bergen in relation to the Rafto Conference 2016, and suggested to meet students at a meeting arranged by The Centre on Law and Social Transformation. Several lucky students showed up to listen to Pillay who has for several years been one of the worlds most powerful and effective champion of human rights.

Pillay shared her reflections and experiences in working with human rights, and addressed all the students’ questions concerning the role of the international Criminal Court and the recent tensions between the ICC and several African states, as well as the Court’s preliminary examination of the alleged crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory.


Pillay is the first non-white female judge of the High Court of South Africa, and during the meeting she answered questions concerning gender issues raised by several of the students.

– The question shouldn’t be ‘should there be women on the bench?’. It should be ‘why aren’t more women on the bench?’, Pillay said when addressing the issue of female representation in the judiciary.

Sexual violence in conflict situations and rape as a war crime were also issues that Pillay commented on.

– Sexual violence has traditionally not been taken seriously as a crime, and has accordingly not been investigated in a serious manner. In addition to this, there has been a myth saying that victims of rape in conflict will not testify, but we see that this is not true. We need better systems of protection and reparation, Pillay said.

The conversations was led by director of the Centre on Law and Social Transformation, Siri Gloppen.


Yngvild Gotaas Torvik