Leadership Team

David photoDavid COHEN, Director of the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice and the Asian International Justice Initiative.

David Cohen is a leading expert in the fields of human rights, international law and transitional justice. Cohen taught at UC Berkeley from 1979-2012 as the Ancker Distinguished Professor for the Humanities, and served as the founding Director of the Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center, which moved to Stanford at the end of 2013 and became the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice. Cohen is now a visiting professor at Stanford, Professor in the Graduate School at UC Berkeley, and Professor of Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai`i. His involvement in research in war crimes tribunals began in the mid 1990’s with a project to collect the records of the national war crimes programs conducted in approximately 20 countries in Europe and Asia after WWII. Since 2001, Cohen’s work had largely focused on contemporary tribunals and transitional justice initiatives. Cohen has led justice sector reform initiatives and tribunal monitoring programs in Indonesia, East Timor, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Rwanda and Cambodia. At the regional level, Cohen has worked closely with the ASEAN Secretariat and the USAID Technical Facility to the ASEAN Secretariat, in forming and leading an expert group to create a Human Rights Resource Center for ASEAN. Cohen serves as the Advisor to the Executive Director and the Governing Board of the Resource Center and leads the Center’s research projects. Cohen also directs the Summer Institute in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, a regionally focused summer course held in Southeast Asia every year in partnership with a local institution. Professor Cohen received his JD at UCLA’s School of Law, his PhD in classics and ancient history from Cambridge University, and an Honorary Doctorate in Law from the University of Zurich. He has been a Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University since 2009.


Christoph Sperfeldt—Deputy Director, Asian International Justice Initiative

Christoph Sperfeldt is responsible for developing and managing AIJI’s programs in Southeast Asia and the wider Asia-Pacific region. He brings to the role over ten years experience in research and capacity development in the areas of transitional justice, rule of law and conflict transformation. Before joining AIJI in 2011, he worked as Senior Advisor with the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Cambodia between 2007 and 2011, both as an Advisor to the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) and then to the Victims Support Section of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Sperfeldt holds a master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Jena in Germany, and is a doctoral candidate at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) of the Australian National University. He has published widely in the field of transitional justice and human rights.


Penelope VAN TUYL, Associate Director of the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice and the Asian International Justice Initiative.

Penelope Van Tuyl is an American human rights lawyer. She received her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and is admitted to practice in the state of California. She has worked closely with Professor Cohen since 2006 on human rights and rule of law projects in Southeast Asia, West Africa, and Europe. For the last several years, as Deputy Director for the Handa Center’s predecessor institution (the War Crimes Studies Center) Van Tuyl has overseen several key initiatives, including the Virtual Tribunal project, the Center’s trial monitoring programs at international criminal tribunals in Cambodia, Sierra Leone and Bangladesh, and the annual Summer Institute in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. She has also been the primary point person at the Center for student engagement, managing oversight of student research projects, and matching interested and qualified students with internship opportunities at project sites overseas. Van Tuyl has authored and edited numerous reports and articles on international criminal law and procedure. She has also taught undergraduate courses in human rights and international law at UC Berkeley. Her research interests touch on substantive, procedural, and administrative aspects of international criminal law practice; in particular, she focuses on Joint Criminal Enterprise (JCE) liability, standards of pleading in international courts, and the institutional accountability mechanisms that are meant to support the effective and efficient administration of justice.

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