2014 Nora Shariff Memorial Lecture on Justice and Human Rights

The International Crimes Strategy Forum (ICSF) invites you to attend the inaugural Nora Shariff Memorial Lecture on Justice and Human Rights. This year’s lecture will be delivered by the internationally renowned political scientist Dr Gowher Rizvi, who is currently the International Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Mrs Sheikh Hasina Wazed. The lecture will be followed by a Q&A session. Those who can not attend may wish to follow the lecture on twitter at the hashtag below.

DATE & TIME: 18 December 2014; from 6:30pm to 8:30pm
VENUE: Baden-Powell House Conference Centre (65-67, Queen’s Gate, London SW7 5JS)
NEAREST TUBE: South Kensington and Gloucester Road
BY BUS: Nos. 70, 74, 360.
CONTACTS: (email), 07962027565 (mobile)
SocNet HASHTAG: #NoraLecture2014

‘Democracy through Justice: Ending Impunity in Bangladesh for International Crimes’

Bangladesh was born in 1971 following its Liberation War against the then West Pakistan. During the conflict, the military operations launched by the invading Pakistani army units and their local collaborators in various paramilitary forces resulted in brutal killings of Bengali civilians, students, intelligentsia and people from all walks of life. According to various estimates, nearly three million Bangladeshis were killed, at least 300,000 rapes were perpetrated, and over ten million people fled the country taking shelter in the refugee camps in neighbouring India, with half of the 75 million population being internally displaced. In terms of brutality and scale the crimes committed in 1971 are regarded as one of the major genocides of the 21st century. In perpetrating these crimes, the occupying Pakistani army and their auxiliary paramilitary forces (e.g., Razakar, al- badar etc) disregarded the minimum norms and standards of international laws of war. Under different undemocratic regimes, perpetrators of these crimes enjoyed decades of impunity in the independent Bangladesh and remained unaccountable, while victims suffered in agony from lack of reckoning and justice. Such an atmosphere of impunity not only worked against the rule of law, it also continued to plague Bangladesh’s struggle for democracy. There were vigorous nationwide campaigns for justice during this period, and finally in 2010 the first International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) was set up to prosecute those responsible for committing international crimes in 1971. The two International Crimes Tribunals of Bangladesh were not a product of an international treaty, or compromise or negotiation, rather they were set up under the already existing International Crimes (Tribunals) Act of 1973, a pathbreaking law of its time in its own right, enacted by the Parliament of the newly independent sovereign Bangladesh. The objectives of the Act, and the justice process that it set in motion, had always been: ending the culture of impunity, ensuring justice, and establishing rule of law as the core essentials towards strengthening democracy in Bangladesh.

DR GOWHER RIZVI is a historian, academic and scholar who is currently serving as the international affairs advisor to the honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh Mrs Sheikh Hasina Wazed. After obtaining his BA and MA degrees from the University of Dhaka, he received his DPhil from the University of Oxford studying as a Rhodes Scholar. Throughout his illustrious academic career Professor Rizvi taught at the University of Oxford, Harvard University (Kennedy School of Government), University of Warwick and University of Virginia, publishing in a range of disciplines including international relations, public policy and history.

Barrister Nora Shariff (1943-2013) had been a valued member of ICSF and this memorial lecture series is a fitting tribute to what she had always represented as an individual, lobbyist and campaigner for justice. She had been a true friend not only of Bangladesh’s cause of independence and the people’s collective struggle for justice and democracy, for more than four decades she had also been consistently vocal for just causes in other parts of the world. Born in 1943 in Dublin (Ireland) as Nora Murray, she graduated from the University College of Dublin in Ireland with a BA Honours in Languages. Later she moved to London and got married to Mr Sultan Shariff in 1968. She learnt to speak Bengali fluently when she became heavily involved in raising awareness of the political situation in the then East Pakistan (subsequently Bangladesh). In 1969, she worked with others to arrange for Sir Thomas Williams to defend (Bangabandhu) Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the Agartala Conspiracy Case. When the Liberation War broke out in 1971, Nora Shariff continued her campaign in London to support the Liberation movement of the Bengali people and to raise awareness of their plight in the face of genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the invading Pakistani army and their local collaborators. She was called to the Bar as a Barrister in 1972 after which she moved to Bangladesh and joined the Law Faculty of Dhaka University as an Assistant Professor of Law. She returned to England after the assassination of Bangabandhu in August 1975. For the last four decades, she had been active in almost every democratic cause related to Bangladesh. Since the beginning of the justice process at the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh in 2010, she had been a very active member of ICSF having played an integral role in the organisation’s Europe based networking and lobbying activities, and regular workshops for activists to support the ICT and the justice process. She was also associated with the Bangladesh ICT Support Forum as their representative abroad. In 2012, in recognition for her contribution in the Liberation War of Bangladesh, she was honoured with the ‘National Award for Friends of Bangladesh’ by the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. On 29 November 2013, after months of battle with cancer, Nora Shariff passed away in her London home. She will always be fondly remembered as a true friend of Bangladesh.

International Crimes Strategy Forum (ICSF) [] is an independent global network of experts and activists set up in 2009 to support campaigns and justice initiatives that are aimed at ending impunity for international crimes.

Facebook event-page link:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archive I: Media Archive

Archives news reports, opinions, editorials published in different media outlets from around the world on 1971, International Crimes Tribunal and the justice process.

Archive II: ICT Documentation

For the sake of ICT’s legacy this documentation project archives, and preserves proceeding-documents, e.g., judgments, orders, petitions, timelines.

Archive IV: Memories

This archive records from memory the nine-month history of 1971 as experienced and perceived by individuals from all walks of life.