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Bosnia & Herzegovina

Peace and Justice through a Feminist Lens: Gender Justice and the Women’s Court for the Former Yugoslavia


O’Reilly, Maria. “Peace and Justice through a Feminist Lens: Gender Justice and the Women’s Court for the Former Yugoslavia.” Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 10, no. 3 (July 2, 2016): 419–445.

Author: Maria O'Reilly


Post-conflict interventions to ‘deal with’ violent pasts have moved from exception to global norm. Early efforts to achieve peace and justice were critiqued as ‘gender-blind’—for failing to address sexual and gender-based violence, and neglecting the gender-specific interests and needs of women in transitional settings. The advent of UN Security Council resolutions on ‘Women, Peace and Security’ provided a key policy framework for integrating both women and gender issues into transitional justice processes and mechanisms. Despite this, gender justice and equality in (post-)conflict settings remain largely unachieved. This article explores efforts to attain gender-just peace in post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). It critically examines the significance of a recent ‘bottom-up’ truth-telling project—the Women’s Court for the former Yugoslavia—as a locally engaged approach to achieving justice and redress for women impacted by armed conflict. Drawing on participant observation, documentary analysis, and interviews with women activists, the article evaluates the successes and shortcomings of responding to gendered forms of wartime violence through truth-telling. Extending Nancy Fraser’s tripartite model of justice to peacebuilding contexts, the article advances notions of recognition, redistribution and representation as crucial components of gender-just peace. It argues that recognizing women as victims and survivors of conflict, achieving a gender-equitable distribution of material and symbolic resources, and enabling women to participate as agents of transitional justice processes are all essential for transforming the structural inequalities that enable gender violence and discrimination to materialize before, during, and after conflict. (Abstract from original)

Keywords: feminism, gender justice, international, local, Nancy Fraser, UNSCR 1325

Topics: Justice, Transitional Justice, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325 Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2016

Women, Religion, and Peacebuilding: Illuminating the Unseen


Marshall, Katherine, and Susan Hayward, eds. 2015. Women, Religion, and Peacebuilding: Illuminating the Unseen. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.

Authors: Katherine Marshall, Susan Hayward


Many women working for peace around the world are motivated by their religious beliefs, whether they work within secular or religious organizations. These women often find themselves sidelined or excluded from mainstream peacebuilding efforts. Secular organizations can be uncomfortable working with religious groups. Meanwhile, religious institutions often dissuade or even disallow women from leadership positions. Women, Religion, and Peacebuilding: Illuminating the Unseen shows how women determined to work for peace have faced these obstacles in ingenious ways—suggesting, by example, ways that religious and secular organizations might better include them in larger peacebuilding campaigns and make those campaigns more effective in ending conflict.
The first part of the book examines the particular dynamics of women of faith working toward peace within Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism. The second part contains case studies of women peacebuilders in Africa, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, detailing how their faiths have informed their work, what roles religious institutions have played as they have moved forward, what accomplishments have resulted from their efforts, and what challenges remain. An appendix of interviews offers further perspectives from peacebuilders, both women and men.
Ultimately, Women, Religion, and Peacebuilding is a call to change the paradigm of peacebuilding inside and outside of the world’s faiths, to strengthen women’s abilities to work for peace and, in turn, improve the chances that major efforts to end conflicts around the world succeed. (United States Institute of Peace)


Table of Contents:

1. Religious Women’s Invisibility: Obstacles and opportunities
Susan Hayward and Katherine Marshall

2. Part I: Women Peacebuilders: Distinctive Approaches of Different Religious Traditions
Susan Hayward and Katherine Marshall

3. Catholic Women Building Peace: Invisibility, Ideas and Institutions Expand Ideas
Maryann Casimano Love

4. Muslim Women’s Peacebuilding Initiatives
S. Ayse Kadayifci-Orellana

5. Creating Peaceful and Sustainable Communities through the Spiritual Empowerment of Buddhism and Hinduism
Dena Merriam

6. Jewish Women in Peacebuilding: Embracing Disagreement in the Pursuit of “Shalom”
Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen

7. Part II Women and Faith in Action: Regional Case Studies
Susan Hayward and Katherine Marshall

8. An All-Women Peacekeeping Group: Lessons From the Mindanao People’s Caucus
Margaret Jenkins

9. Women, Religion, and Peacebuilding in Kaduna State, Nigeria
Bilkisu Yusuf and Sr. Kathleen McGarvey

10. The Politics of Resistance: Muslim Women Negotiating Peace in Aceh, Indonesia
Etin Anwar

11. Women Reborn: A Case Study of the Intersection of Women, Religion, and Peacebuilding in a Palestinian Village in Israel
Andrea K. Blanch, with coauthors Esther Hertzog and Ibtisam Mahameed

12. Women Citizens and Believers as Agents of Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Zilka Spahic Šiljak

13. Women Peacebuilders in Post-Coup Honduras: Their Spiritual Struggle to Transform Multiple Forms of Violence
Mónica A. Maher

14. Women, Religion and Trauma Healing: A Case in India
Anjana Dayal Prewitt

15. Strengthening Religious Women’s Work for Peace
Jacqueline Ogega and Katherine Marshall

16. Conclusion: Seeking Common Ground
Susan Hayward and Katherine Marshall

17. Appendix: Scholars and Practitioners Engaged with Women, Religion, and Peace

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Peacebuilding, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes, Religion Regions: Africa, MENA, West Africa, Americas, Central America, Asia, Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Israel, Nigeria, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, Philippines

Year: 2015

Gender, Representation and Power-Sharing in Post-Conflict Institutions


 Byrne, Siobhan and Allison McCulloch. 2012. "Gender, Representation and Power-Sharing in Post-Conflict Institutions" International Peacekeeping 19 (5): 565-580

Authors: Siobhan Bryne, Allison McCulloch


An emerging tension characterizes conflict resolution practice: promoting power-sharing between ethnic groups while simultaneously mandating women’s inclusion in peace processes and in post-conflict institutions. Scholars of ethnic conflict have not adequately theorized the gender implications of power-sharing, and practitioners have failed to implement mechanisms that would make power-sharing representative of constituencies beyond ethno-national cleavages. There is no substantive reason why the representation of women and ethnic groups should be in tension. Nevertheless, gender is often ignored in the power-sharing literature and gender-mainstreaming practices appear irreconcilable with power-sharing practice. Drawing on three cases of post-conflict power-sharing – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, and Northern Ireland – this article identifies reasons why this tension remains in practice, especially the overriding emphasis in powersharing on ethno-nationalist elites and conflict protagonists.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Mainstreaming, Peace Processes, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Burundi, United Kingdom

Year: 2012

Gendered Justice Gaps in Bosnia-Herzegovina


Björkdahl, Annika, and Johanna Mannergren Selimovic. 2014. “Gendered Justice Gaps in Bosnia-Herzegovina.” Human Rights Review 15 (2): 201–18.

Authors: Annika Björkdahl , Johanna Mannergren Selimovic


A gendered reading of the liberal peacebuilding and transitional justice project in Bosnia-Herzegovina raises critical questions concerning the quality of the peace one hopes to achieve in transitional societies. By focusing on three-gendered justice gaps--the accountability, acknowledgement, and reparations gaps--this article examines structural constraints for women to engage in shaping and implementing transitional justice, and unmasks transitional justice as a site for the long-term construction of the gendered post-conflict order. Thus, the gendered dynamics of peacebuilding and transitional justice have produced a post-conflict order characterized by gendered peace and justice gaps. Yet, we conclude that women are doing justice within the Bosnian-Herzegovina transitional justice project, and that their presence and participation is complex, multilayered, and constrained yet critical.

Keywords: gender, gender-just peace, 'transitional justice', Bosnia-Herzegovina, Critical agency

Topics: Gender, Women, Justice, Transitional Justice, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2014

Feminist Research in Transitional Justice Studies: Navigating Silences and Disruptions in the Field


Simic, Olivera. 2016. “Feminist Research in Transitional Justice Studies: Navigating Silences and Disruptions in the Field.” Human Rights Review 17 (1): 95–113.

Author: Olivera Simic


This paper will analyse what it takes to conduct feminist and sensitive research in countries that have seen mass human rights violations. Transitional justice research involves critical examination of difficult topics which raises a number of ethical and methodological issues for both the participants and the researchers. Although empirical research has been a facet of the studies produced in the field, researchers' accounts of undertaking research in often politically sensitive environments is largely missing from published books and research reports. This paper is informed by personal experiences of doing research in wartime rape in the ethnically and politically divided country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I argue that the researcher's profile and positionality directly affects the fieldwork and that fieldwork is a dialogical process which is structured by the researcher and the wider political processes in the country.

Keywords: feminist research, sensitive topics, personal reflections, transitional justice

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Justice, Transitional Justice, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Rape Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2016

Trans-Local Communities in the Age of Transnationalism: Bosnians in Diaspora


Halilovich, Hariz. 2012. “Trans-Local Communities in the Age of Transnationalism: Bosnians in Diaspora: Trans-Local Communities: Bosnians in Diaspora.” International Migration 50 (1): 162–78. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2435.2011.00721.x.

Author: Hariz Halilovich


Today, Bosnians represent one of the newly emerging and the most widely dispersed diasporic communities from the Balkans. There are large communities of Bosnians living in almost every European country, as well as throughout North America and Australia. Most were displaced during the 1992–1995 Bosnian war, in which 2.2 million people were forced to leave their homes, 1.6 million of whom looked for refuge abroad. In contrast with, and in response to, the enforced displacement, many members of the Bosnian diaspora have retained strong family and other “informal” social ties with both Bosnians in other countries and those still living in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH, or Bosnia). Such ties – focused on preservation of cultural memory and performance of distinct local identities – form the basis of the global network of the Bosnian diaspora and its link with the original home (land). In this paper, I briefly outline the links and networks that constitute diaspora, and then go on to explore the extent to which recent scholarly literature is able to “capture” the uniqueness and complexity of the Bosnian diasporic communities in Australia, the United States (U.S.) and Europe. Finally, I attempt to define the concept of “trans-localism” and how it is (per)formed, and suggest that the predominantly “transnational” conceptual framework within the migration studies needs to be expanded to include “trans-local” diasporic identity formation among displaced Bosnians and similar diaspora groups.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Nationalism, Violence Regions: Europe, Balkans Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2012

Forced Pregnancy: Codification in the Rome Statute and its Prospect as Implicit Genocide


Jessie, Soh Sie Eng. 2006. “Forced Pregnancy: Codification in the Rome Statute and Its Prospect as Implicit Genocide.” New Zealand Journal of Public and International Law 4 (2): 311.

Author: Soh Sie Eng Jessie


The Bosnia–Herzegovina political conflict between 1992 and 1995 shone international light on the use of forced pregnancy campaigns as tools in ethnic conflicts. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is the first international treaty to explicitly define the crime of forced pregnancy, but its enactment was controversial. This article discusses the intensive opposition to its inclusion in the Rome Statute, from religious, cultural and political perspectives. It also suggests that domestic antiabortion laws and control over women's reproductive rights raise different issues from a forced pregnancy provision, and that there was a need for the express codification of forced pregnancy as a separate offence, given that it is neither novel nor rare. The Rome Statute lists forced pregnancy as a separate offence, but it is not expressly criminalised as genocide. However, this article argues that forced pregnancy is implicit genocide. It involves attacking women in the targeted group for the purpose of their impregnation through rape, and their detention to facilitate the birth of resulting babies. Forced pregnancy campaigns infiltrate the targeted community through gene pool pollution and manipulation of cultural beliefs.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Genocide, Health, Reproductive Health, International Law, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, Sexual Violence Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2006

Muscular Interventionism: Gender, Power and Liberal Peacebuilding in Post-Conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina


O’Reilly, Maria. 2012. “Muscular Interventionism: Gender, Power and Liberal Peacebuilding in Post-Conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 14 (4): 529–48. doi:10.1080/14616742.2012.726096.

Author: Maria O'Reilley


This article highlights the centrality of gender to the liberal peacebuilding agenda in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It examines the discourses and practices of liberal interventionism, focusing on the Office of the High Representative (OHR) as a crucial site for the constitution of gendered subjects and agents in this post-conflict zone. Drawing on poststructural theories and representations of Balkan identity, it explores the gendered articulations of Paddy Ashdown, first during his wartime visits to Bosnia-Herzegovina, and second, during his tenure as High Representative. A discourse-theoretical analysis highlights how Ashdown rationalized his involvement in wartime Bosnia-Herzegovina through a powerful self-identification with an ‘interventionist model of masculinity’ which equates manliness with a responsibility to protect a vulnerable/backward/feminized Balkan ‘other’ from violence and harm. Moreover, gendered discourses helped to conceptualize and legitimate the peace implementation role of the OHR, allowing the organization to position coercive strategies and policies as appropriate and necessary for creating sustainable peace. Overall, this article highlights how gender is mobilized to promote and impose liberal policies and norms, with significant implications for the quality of peace being (re)constructed.

Keywords: Balkanism, Bosnia, dicourse, gender, identity, liberal peace, masculinities, peacebuilding, statebuilding

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, International Organizations, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2012

Silence as Possibility in Postwar Everyday Life


Eastmond, Marita, and Johanna Mannergren Selimovic. 2012. “Silence as Possibility in Postwar Everyday Life.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 6 (3): 502–24. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijs026.

Authors: Marita Eastmond, Johanna Mannergren Selimovic


Silence is a form of communication as multifaceted as speech and as such conveys a broad range of contextually situated social meanings. Often silence is understood as a form of denial and inherently detrimental to processes of reconciliation, but it may help create a sense of ‘normality’ and facilitate encounters between former foes. This article enquires into the role and meanings of silence as tacit forms of communication in postwar social processes and everyday life among people of different ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly as used by the displaced and returnees. It argues that in these contentious settings, everyday social interaction employs silence in ways that empower by communicating respect and even trust, thus forming and sustaining relations important to viable local life. Silence can be used to affirm family continuity and protect close relationships. Silent claims may also ‘speak’ from a marginalized position in relation to hegemonic narratives and make moral claims. Silence may thus be understood as a pragmatic and at times successful strategy for coexistence even when reflecting continued division in the larger society.

Keywords: Bosnia and Herzegovina, silence, memory, displacement, returnees

Topics: Class, Gender, Women, Men, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2012

‘One Pair of Shoes, One Life’: Steps towards Accountability for Genocide in Srebrenica


Simić, Olivera, and Kathleen Daly. 2011. “‘One Pair of Shoes, One Life’: Steps towards Accountability for Genocide in Srebrenica.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 5 (3): 477–91. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijr020.

Authors: Olivera Simić, Kathleen Daly


On 15 July each year, Women in Black, an antimilitarist and feminist organization based in Belgrade, organize or participate in events in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to mark the anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica. In 2010, in collaboration with a number of artists, Women in Black blocked the main pedestrian mall in Belgrade and, under police protection, laid out about 500 pairs of shoes given to them by Serbian citizens. Each pair represented the life and death of a person killed in the massacre, and each carried a handwritten message from the person who gave it. We analyse the meaning and significance of this campaign as a civil society mechanism of accountability and moral reparations. Although criminal prosecutions for war crimes in the Balkans have been taking place for nearly two decades, they have not been able to address the conflicts and animosities that persist in the region. We argue that by participating in ‘One Pair of Shoes, One Life,’ Serbian citizens have begun to take steps towards publicly accepting responsibility for failing to prevent the crime of genocide perpetrated in their name.

Topics: Civil Society, Gender, Women, Genocide, Justice, Reparations, Transitional Justice Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2011


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