Dr. Cheah W.L. is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law of the National University of Singapore (NUS) since 2007 and holds a joint appointment at the NUS University Scholars Program. She has been visiting scholar at the Faculty of Law, Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin and at iCourts Research Centre, University of Copenhagen. In 2011, she was a Visiting Professional at the International Criminal Court.
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 also qualified lawyer (called to the New York Bar) and holds a diploma in arbitration (Queen Mary University of London).
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). In 2016 and 2017, she was awarded a USP teaching incentive award and a NUS Law Faculty Teaching Excellence Award.
Prior to entering academia, she served as a Legal Officer at INTERPOL’s Office of Legal Affairs (Lyon, France). She has interned at the Serious Crimes Unit (Timor Leste), Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM). She has been invited to give talks 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.
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 such human rights violations and mass atrocities? How is accountability conceptualised and what forms does such accountability take? Why does accountability matter? Her work has been published in journals such as the Harvard Human Rights Journal, Journal of International Criminal Justice, and International Journal of Law in Context. Currently, she is working on a book project on 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.
Her current project examines the challenge of addressing individual accountability through war crimes trials involving multicultural participants, using post-WWII Singapore war crimes trials as a historical case study to illustrate the cross-cultural challenges and contestations that take place in such trials. Her 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 explores the varied and contested interpretations given by trial participants to explanations put forward by the defence in the Singapore Trials. She has written a series of articles about these trials and their pursuit of accountability.
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 Serious Crimes Panel and the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation achieved individual accountability for wartime atrocities 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