Dr. Chandra Lekha Sriram was a vibrant personality and inspirational trail-blazer in scholarly advocacy for human rights, justice and peace. We first met at an event in Kathmandu on the eve of Nepal’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement. I was in awe of her sheer articulate brilliance, and then we went for momos in town and it turned out she was a wonderful person as well. Subsequently it was my good fortune to work with her on several projects and we would meet up not just in London, but in Nuremberg, Geneva and latterly Nairobi as well.
Chandra was stunning in her iconic black and red. She had a wry sense of humour and was often self-deprecating. She could pack people (comfortably!) into her flat for home cooked hotpot with flair, and was a loyal friend. Her work output was prodigious and she held herself to a high standard always in scope and detail, a serious professional with intellectual rigour and a conscientious work ethic in the extreme. She did burn the proverbial ‘midnight oil’; her health did at times suffer, but no one would have imagined her leaving us so soon. We shared transatlantic roots and universalist concerns. I miss her terribly, already.
She leaves behind an impressive and ground-breaking collection of work – let’s use it, and let her values, insights and vision live on. Miss ya Chan.
I was Chandra’s roommate in political science grad school in the 1990s and she was a hilarious demolisher of the myriad varieties of nonsense which that entailed.
We used to try to crack each other up during what seemed like endless meandering classes, and although I could never quite get to her, I’ll never forget the time she rolled up her sleeve, subtly rotated her forearm, and looked at me pointedly to make sure I understood her implication, i.e., “this lecture is so boring I’m going to slit my wrists.”
I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard or so long, and even though this was a course I was supposed to be TAing, I eventually had to leave the lecture hall…
She was one of my favorite people in the world. It’s hard to imagine her being gone.
Chandra was one of my very first friends in the academic world. What a blessing to have met her so early on this journey, in that her humor, creativity, irony and insight added a lot of levity and perspective to life. I will miss her. I have such fond memories of dinners and cocktails with her in scattered cities: Amsterdam, London, New Orleans, Nuremberg, Las Vegas, New York, Washington. But her spirit lives on, and can grow in our own work and in how we interact with each other: to demonstrate acts of kindness and wit in our lives, to laugh more, to be supportive – genuinely supportive – of others, and to take seriously the act of not taking it all too seriously. My deepest sympathies to her mother.
It is with heavy heart that we learn of the passing of Professor Chandra Lekha Sriram. Chandra was a leading scholar in the field of human rights, transitional justice and conflict and a significant contributor to the work of the International Nuremberg Principles Academy. She recently contributed to the Nuremberg Forum 2017 conference report focusing on “10 Years after the Nuremberg Declaration on Peace and Justice: The Fight Against Impunity at a Crossroad”, with a paper on the relationship between transitional justice and security. Her work was also significant to our complementarity project that the Nuremberg Academy is leading together with the Netherlands-based Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies. She was one of the experts designing the methodology framework, in addition to mapping the context for national responses to international crimes. She was an invaluable part of the team and she will be missed dearly.
International Nuremberg Principles Academy
I am still in shock. I cannot believe that she has been taken away from us so soon. We have lost a beautiful person and a beautiful mind. My heartfelt condolences to her mother and all her dear friends.
I met Chandra in St Andrews some 15 years ago. I was working on my PhD when she arrived as lecturer in the same department. She was fascinating, smart, witty and kind. We instantly bonded in the need to complain to each other about anything and everything – and responding with a line to make the other laugh. This, of course, mostly done over fine wine and excellent dinner always cooked by Chandra. I have always been so impressed with her intelligent and calm way of being able to express herself. She was a tremendous help during my PhD – where whenever I felt stuck (research-wise or with life more generally) she would make a comment or ask a question which would get me thinking and be able find a relevant solution or direction.
We were in touch over the years after St Andrews – but it was not often enough and I wish we had spoken and seen each other more. Speaking to her was mostly over Skype while I was out on a mission with MSF – where after catching up and having complaining sessions, we would end up laughing and gossiping. Our countries of research/intervention often overlapped, although sadly we never saw each other in the field.
There are so many memories running around in my head right now. I am hoping she is somewhere close and sharing them with me.
Chandra my dear friend, you have accomplished so much in your life – you are an inspiration to me and I will miss you so much. You left us all too soon.
Like others I am devastated at the loss of such an energetic and passionate scholar who was committed to making research matter. I have worked with Chandra since 2005, including being co-director with her of the Centre on Human Rights in Conflict between 2013-2015. She represented the very best of the academic community: she aimed high and sought to inspire students and colleagues to do the same. She was a brave researcher going to conflict zones armed only with the desire to tell the truth about what was taking place. Her work remains central to the literature on transitional justice and will be cited for years to come. We were all privileged to have known and worked with her.
In memoriam: Chandra Lekha Sriram
The Board members and staff of Conciliation Resources are saddened to learn of the sudden passing of our friend and former trustee Professor Chandra Lekha Sriram.
Chandra was a member of our Board of Trustees from 2009 until 2012, and brought intellectual rigour and commitment to asking challenging questions that contributed to the development of the organisation. Andy Carl was Executive Director of Conciliation Resources at the time:
As a member of Conciliation Resources’ Board, Chandra brought her intellect, wit and politics to bear, helping to give us a strategic steer on our work on peacebuilding and human rights. I will never forget how generous she was with her insights, which were always delivered with a sardonic humour and an eye to what our work on transitional justice, peace and democratisation could mean for people living with violence and conflict. We will miss her.
Chandra was a Professor in Law at the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, and founded and directed the Centre on Human Rights in Conflict at the University of East London. She also provided support and advice to the United Nations Development Programme, and led the development of a guidance note on governance, conflict prevention and early recovery. Chandra was twice the Chair of the International Studies Association Human Rights section and was co-Chair of the London Transitional Justice Network. Executive Director of Conciliation Resources, Jonathan Cohen said:
Chandra’s intelligence, audacity and energy were a great tonic. We benefitted enormously from the questions she posed, honed through experience of researching in conflict contexts and navigating the corridors of diplomatic institutions. This is a shocking loss to a community that held her in high esteem.
Chandra also authored and edited various books and journal articles on international relations, international law, human rights, conflict prevention and peacebuilding, and co-edited a book series on law, conflict and international relations. She also authored a chapter in Conciliation Resources’ Accord publication on Lebanon.
I was so shocked to hear the news last Thursday afternoon – just a few minutes after I emailed Chandra without knowing what happened. It is still difficult to believe that she passed away. I am so devastated. She was an amazing, distinguished colleague, whom I greatly admire and respect as a person as well as a great scholar. Her untimely death is a great loss.
In commemoration of Chandra, I am sharing my Facebook link and the UCL website, which capture her brilliance:
(i) Chandra as Respondent to Professor Michael Ignatieff’s lecture: ‘The Refugee as the Invasive Other’ – https://www.facebook.com/terri.kim/posts/10155352962893939?hc_location=ufi
(ii) Chandra’s excellent keynote, ‘Engaging with truth claims and the pursuit of justice’ at the Professor Jagdish Gundara Memorial Symposium: Global Challenges to Social Justice and the Future of Intercultural Education in honour of Professor Jagdish Gundara (1938-2016) – https://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Play/11488
RIP. With my heartfelt thoughts and deepest condolences,
Chandra patiently instructing me to make rosemary chicken, probably repressing howls of laughter on the inside because I am staring at the oven like it is a nuclear reactor, is my favorite memory of her.
I am still struggling to accept the sad news of Prof Chandra’s passing. Prof Chandra was a great mentor and supervisor on my PhD. She also became a great friend over the years. The more I got to know her the more she came to symbolise empathy and resilience in an increasingly harsh world. Her passion for justice and equality was always inspiring and exceptional. Her intelligence, hard work and scholarship encouraged me to always do more and better in my own professional and academic life. I had so many things and questions I wanted to discuss with her along the exciting career path that she helped set me upon. I will surely miss her. But I will always honor her memory through hard work on some of the issues we both held dear. May she rest well.
I first interacted with Prof. Chandra’s work when my MSc. supervisor at University of Antwerp, Stef Vandeginste, gave me a hard copy of a journal article he had co-authored with her on transitional justice in Global Governance. Soon after, she came to Antwerp to give a presentation in one of our master classes on power sharing, law and human rights. Our next interaction was to be at the International Nuremberg Principle’s Academy, where she was one of our instructors for a ground breaking project on acceptance of international criminal justice in conflict and post-conflict societies. Indeed, I am saddened by the death of a scholar whose work I immensely benefited from, and greatly admired over the years.
Tremendously sorry to hear of the tragic death of Chandra, with whom I had worked closely in New York fifteen or so years ago within the International Peace Academy (today the International Peace Institute), much to my benefit.
She was a tremendously supportive colleague to us all, and her work excited and galvanized us all. It continued to do so during subsequent years as she developed further her impressive academic career.
Most recently, I had spent a lovely evening with her in London after a lively exchange with faculty and students at UEL. Typically, she was full of fun.
She will be enormously missed by her former colleagues and her students.
With deep regret,
David M. Malone
Rector of the United Nations University
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
I was so very sad to hear the news about Chandra. She was a wonderful scholar and serious academic, with a highly creative intellect. I only interacted with her sporadically over the years, but have always been deeply impressed by the range of topics and interests she managed. Her ideas and wit will be sorely missed by colleagues, practitioners, students and friends. My heartfelt condolences to Chandra’s mother.
My name is Sara and I am a final year PhD student. Chandra was my supervisor.
Thank you very much for having set up this website.
I still cannot believe what happened and am deeply saddened by the fact that I won’t be able to talk to or see Chandra anymore.
Chandra was not just an outstanding scholar, she was a good person as well and this combination is quite hard to find in academia.
She was a great supervisor, and a great example of a strong, intelligent, funny and generous woman that I looked up to.
She has always believed in me and I have spent three years working with her for which I will always be grateful.
I will miss Chandra very very much.
My deepest sympathies to her mother and friends.
PS: In addition to the likes and dislikes section, Chandra liked going to the Bistrotheque, while disliked commuting or changing lines on the tube.
I wanted to thank you for putting up the website about Chandra, her work and her life. The website helps to come to terms with her death. I am one of the 2 PhD students that Chandra currently supported at UEL and we are both very shocked about her sudden death. I also write about transitional justice in Colombia and Chandra supported me so much and was such a good mentor. I could speak to her about absolutely anything and I admired her so much for her work. She was very special with me and always so supportive. We went to ISA this year together for a panel and I couldn’t believe that I was on a panel with Chandra, whose books I read during my MA and which guided me through University. She was so humble and so special and I always tried to tell her that her work is outstanding but I even felt as if she did not believe me. Going through the lists of things she likes and does not I was smiling thinking about the many times she would make us take a taxi and not an Uber because of her very strong views about Uber. She also did not like Paris airport and the cheese sandwiches on KLM as far as I remember.
When I heard about Chandras death I immediately thought about her mother. The last times we spoke she was very worried about her mom and I am devastated that her mother has now lost her child which should not be the order.
With my deepest sympathies and condolence to her friends and mother.
Visitors to this website are invited to provide their own testimonials or share a memory about Chandra.
You can do so by clicking on the “Leave a comment” function or by emailing your message to LaChandra.firstname.lastname@example.org.