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International Humanitarian Law IHL

Women, International Law and International Institutions: The Case of the United Nations


Gaer, Felice. 2009. “Women, International Law and International Institutions: The Case of the United Nations.” Women’s Studies International Forum 32 (1): 60–66. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2009.01.006.

Author: Felice Gaer


This final article considers the evolution of women's rights concepts and mechanisms within the United Nations. Gaer writes about this subject both as an historian of and a longstanding activist for women's human rights. She provides a critical history of how “women's” rights have been separated from and connected to “human” rights within the UN. 

Gaer examines how the Commission on the Status of Women, the original UN division which inherited the agenda of the first wave of international feminism, dealt with many of the challenges raised by the activists and organization that proceeded it: making the shift away from great power, Euro American leadership; facing new political environments raised by anti colonial and third world national developments; and expanding the feminist agenda beyond political and civil rights. By ending with an examination of the dilemma of enforcement that the UN still faces with respect to women's human rights, Gaer makes it clear that the subject of international feminism presents challenges that go beyond the academic, and is continuously linked with the efforts and freedom of the world's women.

Topics: Gender, Women, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law IHL, International Organizations, Justice, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2009

Armed Conflict and Sexual Violence Against Women: An Inevitable Accompaniment?


Gökalp Kutlu, Ayşegül. 2014. “Armed Conflicts and Sexual Violence Against Women: An Inevitable Accompaniment?” Kosbed 28: 1–20.

Author: Ayşegül Gökalp Kutlu


Violence against women – rape and all kinds of sexual assault – during armed conflicts is a practice which was known but ignored by human rights discourse and humanitarian law for many years. When states and ideals legitimize killing and other acts of violence, rape is seen as an unfortunate by-product. Therefore, it is common to think about sexual violence against women in armed conflicts as “coincidental”. However, normalizing rape and sexual assault contains the risk of permitting sexual violence and legitimizing its use as a weapon of war. This article will analyse the development and mechanisms of International Humanitarian Law, which is also known for the law of war, with a feminist perspective. It will be argued that International Humanitarian Law lacks effective measures to counter sexual violence.

Keywords: feminism, International Humanitarian Law, sexual violence

Topics: Armed Conflict, Feminisms, Gender, Women, International Law, International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law IHL, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Sexual Violence, SV against women

Year: 2014

The dialogue of difference: gender perspectives on international humanitarian law


Durham, Helen, and Katie O’Byrne. 2010. “The Dialogue of Difference: Gender Perspectives on International Humanitarian Law.” International Committee of the Red Cross 92 (877): 31–52.

Authors: Helen Durham, Katie O'Byrne


This article examines the meaning and potential usefulness of a 'gender perspective' on international humanitarian law (IHL). In order to do so, it considers a number of 'gendered' themes found within IHL, including the role of women as combatants, and the gendered use of sexual violence during times of armed conflict. The authors suggest that further development and understanding of a gender perspective will contribute to the resilience and effectiveness of IHL as a system of law, and will strengthen the protection of those who are victimized and disempowered during times of war.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Gender Analysis, International Law, International Humanitarian Law IHL, Sexual Violence

Year: 2010

The Nairobi Declaration: Redefining Reparation for Women Victims of Sexual Violence


Couillard, Valérie. 2007. “The Nairobi Declaration: Redefining Reparation for Women Victims of Sexual Violence.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 1 (3): 444–53. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijm030.

Author: Valérie Couillard


This paper explores the contribution of the Nairobi Declaration on the Right of Women and Girls to a Remedy and Reparation to the problem of delivering justice through reparation programmes for women victims of sexual violence in conflict situations. It highlights that this civil society initiative is particularly significant because it gives voice to women and girls who are survivors of sexual violence. Placed in the context of the recent adoption by the United Nations' General Assembly of the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, the Nairobi Declaration redefines reparation and guides policy-making to implement the right to reparation specifically for victims of sexual violence. The concept of reparation as a transformative and participative process put forward in the Nairobi Declaration constitutes its most innovative and inspiring contribution.

Topics: Civil Society, Gender, Women, International Law, International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law IHL, Justice, Reparations, Sexual Violence, SV against women Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 2007

Women in Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Dilemmas and Directions


Cahn, Naomi. 2006. “Women in Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Dilemmas and Directions.” William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law 12 (2): 335.


Author: Naomi Cahn




A. Problems in Establishing the Post Conflict Framework

B. Problems with Post Conflict Donor Aid and Special Needs of Women


A. Deconstructing DDR Programs

B. Reconstructing DDR Programs

1. Redesigning DDR Programs with Gender Centrality

2. Reconceptualizing DDR


A. The Scope of the Problem

B. International Law and Violence Against Women

C. Additional Means of Justice

D. The Need for Domestic Reforms Regarding Women’s Rights and Status

1. Developing a Model Statute

2. Changing Existing Law

3. Implementation

a. Gender-Sensitive Support

b. Gender-Sensitive Policies within the Legal System '

4. What Difference Does It Make: Why Change Domestic Rape Laws?

E. Rape Laws and Gender Equity


Topics: DDR, Gender, Women, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Humanitarian Law IHL, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, SV against women

Year: 2006

On the Frontlines: Gender, War, and the Post-Conflict Process


Aoláin, Fionnuala Ní, Dina Francesca Haynes, and Naomi Cahn. 2011. On the Frontlines: Gender, War, and the Post-Conflict Process. Oxford University Press. 

Authors: Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Dina Francesca Haynes, Naomi Cahn


Our book, On the Frontlines, gives a comprehensive overview of the post-conflict terrain as it is experienced by women across multiple jurisdictions and in the wake of numerous conflicts. In creating and applying the concept of gender centrality the book addresses how gender can be made central to a range of post-conflict processes, and in so doing how the experiences of marginality and exclusion for women can be structurally and substantively addressed. The book draws on a range of contemporary feminist theorizing to frame its analysis of how gender is pivotal to the post-conflict context. We address: intervention, peacekeeping, development, rule of law, constitution making, DDR, security sector reform, truth processes, and criminal accountability for gender based violence. 

Countries in the post-conflict transition process provide multiple opportunities for transformation on many different levels, including accountability for human rights violations committed during hostilities; reforming local and national laws; reintegration of soldiers; rehabilitation and redress for victims; the establishment or reestablishment of the rule of law, human rights institutions, and governance structures; changing cultural attitudes; and improving socioeconomic conditions. These opportunities are rare in stable and non-transitional societies and explain in part why societies in conflict garner such significant international and institutional attention. The opportunities for massive transformation are, in theory, open-ended.

We explore the role that gender plays in the construction and implementation of the post-conflict transitional process. The book’s approach is feminist in form and in methodology. Multiple strands of feminist theorization provide the foundations for our analysis and some offer contradictory advice on how to proceed. As feminist scholars influenced by varying theoretical outlooks, we draw on a wide range of feminist approaches and theories to inform our thinking on the numerous issues addressed. Viewing processes of transition in conflicted societies through the lens of the multifaceted social movement that constitutes feminist theory and action provides a unique means to assess political, social, and economic change as it works or does not work for women. This methodological choice affirms the importance of a gender lens by firmly unmasking the ways in which situations and constructs appear neutral, but are in practice gendered masculine. We situate the visibility of women’s concerns to the forefront of our inquiries and ultimately seek a recalibration that requires a rethinking of both the masculine and the feminine in conflicted and post-conflict settings.

Conflicts affect both men and women, but women face additional issues during and after wars that men do not, including, of course, pervasive sexual violence, forced impregnation, reproductive violence, sexually transmitted diseases, and forced abortion. Women and their children experience internal displacement and dominate the refugee populations across conflicts. Women are also differentially affected because of their role as the primary caretaker of the household and family. In this regard, traditional gender dichotomies may be further entrenched and exacerbated during times of extreme violence. By contrast, during some conflicts in which aspects of a functioning state and economy continue to exist, women can take on roles as workers and laborers outside of the home, opportunities which would never transpire were the society not in conflict. In this way, as other feminist scholars have noted, conflict opens up intended and unintended spaces for empowerment, “effecting structural and social transformations and producing new social, economic and political realities that redefine gender and caste hierarchies.” In other conflicts, however, women are the least often employed or employable because of their often legally enforced second-class status in many conflict zones. Across most post-conflict transitions, women are the first to be fired and the last to be hired with the large exception of the false economy build-up around the presence of the international community, in which women are paid to fill the “camp follower” positions as housekeepers, cooks, administrative employees, and, of course, for sex. Peacemaking agreements and transitional structures, however, rarely account for these paradoxical roles.

The primary focus of this book is surveying the interplay of gender with conflict and post-conflict processes, allied with the recognition that women must be central to the powerful and transformative potential of the post-conflict terrain. Conflict-ending and transitional processes are already deeply gendered, drawing on existing cultural, legal, and political practices that are deeply embedded across societies and cultures. The entrenched gender coding of such processes is predominantly masculine and operates to include or make women visible in highly selective ways. A core concern here is the assumption by states and international institutions that conflict endings are the same for women as for men. We consistently challenge that assumption. We also contest the idea that the end of conflict constitutes the end of violence, confrontation, vulnerability, or related manifestations of war for women. As the motif of this book’s title suggests, women are invariably at the frontline of conflict, in the physical and metaphysical sense. Their bodies are in the frontline of military strategy and targeting, and the social networks and spaces women maintain are also frontline targets for destruction and undoing. As examples from multiple jurisdictions indicate, the formal end of hostilities between generally male combatants often have little effect on the quality of life for women as they remain vulnerable and at the vanguard of hazards and threats despite paper agreements between elite actors.

(Abstract from Social Science Research Network)

Keywords: gender, international law, human rights law, post conflict, post conflict reconstruction, democratization, governace, rule of law, institution building, feminist international law


Part I - Conflict and its Dynamics 

Chapter 1 - Before, During and After Conflict - The Connections for Women 
Mapping the Status of Women Prior to Conflict 
Some Relevant Measures 
Gender, Law, and Social Capital 
A Practical Assessment of the Before and After 

Chapter 2 - Gender and the Forms and Experiences of Conflict 
Women as Political and Military Actors 
Violence, Women, and Victimization 
Masculinities and Conflict 

Part II - Towards Peace 

Chapter 3 - The Significance of Security: Realizing Peace 
Is Gender Central to Security? 
Security Reform and Transition 
Critique of Mainstream Approaches to the Concept of Post-Conflict Security 
So Where is Gender in Security Reform? 
Security Reform, Transition, and Transnational Interests 
A New Paradigm of Gendered Security 

Chapter 4 - Engendering International Intervention 
International Interventions 
The Actors 
Towards Gender Positive Intervention 
Capturing and Retaining Gender Equity Achieved During War 

Chapter 5 - Peacekeeping 
Parameters and Status of Peacekeeping Missions 
Masculinities of Peacekeeping 
Positive and Negative Lessons Learned from Peacekeeping Missions 
Positives and Negatives of Employment and Economic Stimulus 
Sexual Violence and Peacekeeping Missions 
What Would Gender-Positive Peacekeeping Address? 
Legal Accountability 
Codes of Conduct 
Added Gender Roles in Peacekeeping 

Chapter 6 - Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Programs (DDR) 
DDR Programs: What Happens? 
The Power of Gender and DDR 
Deconstructing DDR Programs 
Reconstructing DDR Programs 
Attention to Masculinities 
The Ways Forward 

Chapter 7 - International and Local Criminal Accountability for Gendered Violence 
Sex-Based Violence and Accountability in International Law 
The Legal Journey to Codify Gendered Crimes in Armed Conflicts 
Evidentiary Rules and Sexual Violence 
Other Accountability Mechanisms - Restorative Justice and Other Practices 

Chapter 8 - Remedies 
Truth Processes 
The Gendered Dimensions of Truth Recovery 
How Can Truth Recovery Mechanisms Centralize Gender? 
Lustration, Vetting, and Gender 

Chapter 9 - Law Reform, Constitutional Design, and Gender 
Gender and the Rule of Law in Post-Conflict Societies 
Constitutional Transformation and Post-Conflict Processes 
Process: Peace Agreements as Constitutional Documents 
Constitutional Gender Centrality - Substance and Export 
Reproductive Rights 

Part III - Reconstruction and Development 

Chapter 10 - Gender and Governance 
Post Conflict Governance 
Institution Building 
Governance Conflated with Economic Reconstruction and Democratization 
Gendering Governance 

Chapter 11 - Development Infrastructure: Economics, Health and Education 
The Differing Directions of Post-conflict and Development Fields 
Gender Centrality in Development 
Social Services Justice as the Integration of Post Conflict 
Processes and Development 
Long-term Development

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Society, DDR, Democracy / Democratization, Development, Domestic Violence, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Gender Analysis, Femininity/ies, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Discourses, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Health, HIV/AIDS, Mental Health, Reproductive Health, Trauma, International Law, International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law IHL, International Organizations, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Transitional Justice, TRCs, Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Security, Human Security, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Violence, Weapons /Arms

Year: 2011

Refugees, Race, and Gender: The Multiple Discrimination against Refugee Women


Pittaway, Eileen, and Linda Bartolomei. 2001. “Refugees, Race, and Gender: The Multiple Discrimination against Refugee Women.” Refuge 19 (6): 21-32.

Authors: Eileen Pittaway, Linda Bartolomei


This paper examines the intersectionality of race and gender in refugee situations, and the multiple forms of discrimination experienced by refugee women. It explores the notion of racism as a root cause of refugee generation, and the gendered nature of the refugee experience. The manner in which racism and sexism intersect to compound the human rights violations that refugee women experience is explored in the treatment of sexual violence in international and domestic law and policy; during armed conflict; in refugee camps; in countries of first asylum; and in countries of resettlement. Using a case study of one strand of refugee policy in Australia, it illustrates the impact of this discrimination on refugee women. The forthcoming World Conference against Racism offers a unique opportunity for this phenomenon to be addressed by the international community.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Refugees, Refugee/IDP Camps, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, International Law, International Humanitarian Law IHL, International Organizations, Race, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, SV against women, Torture, Sexual Torture, Violence Regions: Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Balkans, Oceania Countries: Australia

Year: 2001

The Security Council on women in war: between peacebuilding and humanitarian protection


Tachou-Sipowo, Alain-Guy. 2010. “The Security Council on women in war: between peacebuilding and humanitarian protection.” International Review of the Red Cross 92 (877): 197-219.

Author: Alain-Guy Tachou-Sipowo


Having established that massive human rights violations in armed conflict constitute a threat to peace and that women are the most severely affected by the scourge of war, the Security Council has since 1999 adopted a number of resolutions intended specifically for this group. These instruments contribute to the development of humanitarian law applicable to women and acknowledge the value of active participation by women in peace efforts. The following article first analyses the foundations on which the Council has been able to assume responsibility for protecting women in situations of armed conflict, and then considers the actual protection it provides. It concludes that the Council has had varying success in this role, pointing out that the thematic and declaratory resolutions on which it is largely based are not binding and therefore, they are relatively effective only as regards their provisions committing United Nations bodies. The author proposes that the Council’s role could be better accomplished through situational resolutions than through resolutions declaratory of international law.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, International Law, International Humanitarian Law IHL, Peacebuilding, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS

Year: 2010

Sexing the Subject of Transitional Justice


Rimmer, Susan Harris. 2010. “Sexing the Subject of Transitional Justice.” The Australian Feminist Law Journal 32: 123-47.

Author: Susan Harris Rimmer


In the absence of the requisite political will at both the domestic and international level, transitional justice mechanisms can be manipulated or rendered impotent, whilst creating false expectations, waylaying the efforts of human rights advocates and costing millions of donor dollars. A feminist strategic legalist approach would focus on gaining the full participation of women in peace negotiations and key decisions about transitional justice processes and the development of a justice sector, and preserving evidence and acquiring data in relation to international and domestic gender crimes for the day when fair trials can be held. The formal ending of violence does not necessarily mean the achievement of peace, rather it provides a 'new set of opportunities that can be grasped or thrown away'. Law in a transitional period might hold an 'independent potential for effecting transformative politics' and 'liberalising' change. On the other hand, in the context of the societal breakdown caused by armed conflict, feminist scholars may be asking international law to engage in too much 'heavylifting'. If transitional justice represents theory and praxis in a liminal zone between international relations and international law, both of which have proved resistant to feminist analysis, why are many feminists so confident that transitional justice represents an opportunity for transformative change?

Topics: Armed Conflict, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Post-conflict Governance, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law IHL, International Organizations, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, War Crimes, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2010

Gender and Judging at the International Criminal Court


Chappell, Louise. 2010. “Gender and Judging at the International Criminal Court.” Politics & Gender 6 (3): 484-95.

Author: Louise Chappell


Imagine this: a court presided over by a majority of women judges--many of whom are from racially marginalized backgrounds--and which has a "constitution" that has gender justice at its core. Incredibly, given what we know about gender and judging cross-nationally, this is not some utopian vision but the current reality at the International Criminal Court (ICC). As of May 2010, the 18 member ICC bench consisted of 11 women judges, most of whom were from outside the West and many of whom have expertise in gender-based violence. This development raises a range of important questions, two of which I want to speculate on in the following discussion: How is it that the sex profile of the ICC bench differs so dramatically from domestic-level courts? What difference might this profile make to the transformation of international law in terms of expanding gender justice principles?

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Gender Equity, Governance, Post-conflict Governance, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law IHL, International Organizations, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Transitional Justice, War Crimes, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2010


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