About Cheah W.L.

Dr. Cheah W.L. is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law of the National University of Singapore (NUS) since 2007. She holds academic qualifications from the National University of Singapore (LL.B., LL.M.), Harvard Law School (LL.M.), European University Institute, and Oxford University (D.Phil). She is a qualified lawyer (called to the New York Bar) and holds a diploma in arbitration (Queen Mary University of London).

Cheah W.L.’s research focuses on accountability for human rights violations and mass atrocities. What do individuals, groups, and societies mean when they demand accountability for human rights violations and mass atrocities? How is accountability conceptualised and what forms does it take? Why does accountability matter? Her work has been accepted for publication in journals such as the Leiden Journal of International Law, European Journal of International Law, Harvard Human Rights Journal, Journal of International Criminal Justice, and International Journal of Law in Context. Currently, she is working on a book project about the Singapore war crimes trials. She has been awarded several research grants, such as the Humboldt University-NUS Research Collaboration Grant and the Singapore Judicial College Research Grant. She is also co-founder (with Ms Ng Pei Yi) of the Singapore War Crimes Trials Web Portal, which is kindly supported by Singapore National Heritage Board and Singapore Academy of Law.

In 2016 and 2017, Cheah W.L. was awarded a USP teaching incentive award and a NUS Law Faculty Teaching Excellence Award. Her teaching experience includes periods at the Centre for Transnational Legal Studies (London, UK), Oxford University (UK), Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 (France), and the Royal University of Law and Economics (Cambodia).

Prior to joining academia, Cheah W.L. served as a Legal Officer at INTERPOL’s Office of Legal Affairs (Lyon, France). She has been invited to speak on the practical impact of her research by the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and serves as an expert adviser to the Case Matrix Network of the Centre of International Law Research and Policy. She has interned at the Serious Crimes Unit (Timor Leste), Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM). In 2011, Cheah W.L. was a Visiting Professional at the International Criminal Court.

Ongoing research

Her current project studies the role of law and war crimes trials in the pursuit of justice and accountability after WWII. In “The Curious Case of the Singapore BIA Desertion Trials: War Crimes, Projects of Empire, and the Rule of Law”, published by the European Journal of International Law, she argues that though many war crimes trials organised in Asia were intended to facilitate the return of colonial rule, the trials’ rule of law dynamics nevertheless resulted in unexpected acquittals and non-confirmations. In her earlier article “Culture and Understanding in in the Singapore War Crimes Trials (1946-1948): Interpreting Arguments of the Defence” in the International Journal of Law in Context, Cheah W.L. analyses the many contestations and divergent interpretations of legal concepts and arguments at trial, all of which complicated rather than clarified questions of accountability. She has written a series of articles about post-WWII trials and the post-WWII search for accountability. In a recent co-authored article accepted by Leiden Journal of International Law, “British War Crimes Trials in Europe and Asia (1945-1949) – A Comparative Study”, Cheah W.L. and Moritz Vormbaum compare post-WWII trials in Germany and Singapore with the aim of identifying and assessing factors shaping these trials.

Her broader research interests lie in studying how individuals and groups pursue accountability for human rights violations through local and global processes. Her article published by the Harvard Human Rights Journal examines the ‘comfort women’ movement’s creative use of domestic, regional and international forums to seek accountability for international sex crimes committed by the Japanese military. In another article published by the UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs, she studies and compares the extent to which Timor Leste’s Special Panels for Serious Crimes and the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation achieved individual accountability and other post-conflict objectives.

In another series of articles, she explores how international organizations can be held legally accountable for human rights violations, using INTERPOL as a case study. Her article published by Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice tracks the organization’s increased legalization while her article published in the International Organizations Law Review assesses the organization’s compliance with the individual’s right to a remedy.

Click here for a complete CV and list of Cheah W.L.’s publications: 170303_cheah_wui_ling_cv_master_full

Cheah W.L.’s publications may also be found at her Academia.edu and SSRN pages.