Leila Sadat, the James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law, and Kim Thuy Seelinger, research associate professor at the Brown School and visiting professor at the School of Law, at Washington University in St. Louis have been appointed special advisers to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.

Sadat has been reappointed special adviser on crimes against humanity, a position she also held under the former prosecutor since 2012, where she contributed extensively to the work of the ICC. Seelinger has been appointed special adviser on sexual violence in conflict.

They are two of 17 advisers appointed by ICC prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan.

“I am delighted to welcome such an outstanding group of experts and I am grateful for their willingness to serve as my special advisers,” Khan said. “I have no doubt that with their enormous experience and hugely impressive credentials, they will significantly contribute to the work of the office and the cause of international criminal justice. I very much look forward to working with and learning from them.” 

Leila Sadat

Sadat is globally known for her work on public international law, international criminal law, human rights and foreign affairs. She is an award-winning scholar, who has published more than 150 articles, essays and reports in leading journals, academic presses and media outlets throughout the world. She is author of 10 books.

She is president of the International Law Association (American Branch), as well as a counselor of the American Society of International Law. In 2017, she received the Arthur Holly Compton Faculty Achievement Award from Washington University and an honorary degree from Northwestern University. 

Sadat is director of the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative, which wrote the world’s first global treaty on crimes against humanity. This effort led to the adoption of articles for a new convention by the United Nations (U.N.) International Law Commission in 2019 that is pending before the U.N. General Assembly’s Sixth Committee.

In 2017, she started the Gun Violence and Human Rights Initiative as the longtime director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute, examining the U.S. gun violence crisis from a human rights perspective. She recently filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case NY State Rifle Ass’n. v. Bruen. This semester, she is a senior research scholar at Yale Law School. 


Seelinger is a renowned expert on gender-based violence in forced displacement and armed conflict. In addition to her teaching and research, she provides technical assistance to international and national actors working on war crimes trials and law reform. Seelinger and colleagues helped develop charges for sexual crimes in the trial of Hissène Habré, the former president of Chad, who was ultimately convicted of these crimes in 2016 in Senegal. She also helped clarify relevant aspects of customary law in Uganda’s first war crimes case, against a mid-level commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Seelinger is committed to developing evidence-based guidelines. Her research has been incorporated into global guidance ranging from the 2015 Interagency Standing Committee guidelines for integrating gender-based violence into humanitarian response as well as the International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict (2017). She also co-wrote Uganda’s Cross-Sectoral Handbook on Trauma-informed Investigation, Prosecution, and Adjudication of Gender-based Crimes (2021), which was based on research conducted from 2011-2015 and then developed in partnership with Ugandan police, prosecutors, judges, military officers, health sector experts, and civil society organizations.

Seelinger currently holds a $600,000 U.S. State Department grant to study barriers to the disclosure of gender-based violence in humanitarian contexts and develop an evidence-based, global toolkit for practitioners providing support to survivors.

She co-founded the Missing Peace Initiative, which connects academics, policymakers and practitioners focused on conflict-related sexual violence. She serves as an adviser to the Global Survivors’ Fund, founded by 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winners Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad. Seelinger also directs the Center for Human Rights, Gender and Migration at the university’s Institute for Public Health.

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