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International Human Rights

Terror/Torture

Citation:

Bennoune, Karima. 2008. “Terror/Torture.” Berkeley Journal of International Law 26 (1): 1-61.

Author: Karima Bennoune

Abstract:

In the face of terrorism, human rights law’s requirement that states “respect and ensure” rights necessitates that states take active steps to safeguard their populations from violent attack, but in so doing do not violate rights. Security experts usually emphasize the aspect of ensuring rights while human rights advocates largely focus on respecting rights. The trick, which neither side in the debate has adequately referenced, is that states have to do both at the same time. In contrast to these largely one-sides approaches, adopting a radical universalist stance, this Article argues that both contemporary human rights and security discourses on terrorism must be broadened and renewed. This renewal must be informed by the understanding that international human rights law protects the individual both from terrorism and the excesses of counter-terrorism, like torture. To develop this thesis, the Article explores the philosophical overlap between both terrorism and torture and their normative prohibitions. By postulating new discourses around the paradigm of terror/torture, it begins the project of creating a new human rights approach to terrorism.

Topics: International Law, International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Rights, Human Rights, Security, Human Security, Terrorism, Torture

Year: 2008

Girl Soldiers and Participation in Hostilities

Citation:

Quénivet, Noëlle. 2008. “Girl Soldiers and Participation in Hostilities.” African Journal of International and Comparative Law 16 (2): 219–35.

Author: Noëlle Quénivet

Abstract:

Recently, organisations working with former child soldiers have observed the growing number of girls involved in armed conflicts. While their fate as sexual slaves is well documented, their participation in hostilities is less acknowledged. Girls, like boys, spy, loot, and kill, but they also cook, clean, and run camps. International humanitarian law, human rights law and international criminal law ban the participation of children in armed conflicts. However, the interpretation of the expression ‘participation in hostilities’ leaves open the possibility that the activities carried out by girls do not fall within the purview of this prohibition, and that, hence, their recruiters are not breaching the aforementioned legal norms.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, Gender, Girls, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery

Year: 2008

Gender, Discourse, and Customary Law in Africa

Citation:

Bond, Johanna E. 2010. “Gender, Discourse, and Customary Law in Africa.” Southern California Law Review 83: 509–73.

Author: Johanna E Bond

Abstract:

Around the world, efforts by states to accommodate cultural pluralism vary in form and vigor. Some multiculturalist states cede to cultural minorities the authority to govern in certain substantive areas, such as family law. Not surprisingly, feminists have raised concerns that a state’s reluctance to govern in areas traditionally seen as “private,” and leaving those areas of law to customary legal systems, leaves women within those minority communities vulnerable to discrimination. Many women value cultural identity, even as they work to eliminate discrimination within their cultural communities. The international human rights community, however, has not always viewed women as committed, active members of their cultural communities. By viewing African women almost exclusively as victims of their culture, the international human rights community has historically undervalued the potential for African women to reformulate cultural policies within their communities. The two primary human rights treaties for the promotion of gender equality in Africa, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights are dismissive of culture and gender equality, respectively. The Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa attempts to remedy the shortcomings of CEDAW and the African Charter and offers new hope for promoting gender equality on the continent. In addition to strong substantive rights, the Protocol provides important procedural rights to ensure that women have a voice in the ongoing examination and reformulation of cultural practices and customary law.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, International Law, International Human Rights, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa

Year: 2010

Rhetoric Without Results: United Nations Security Council Resolutions Concerning Rape During Armed Conflict

Citation:

Schreck, Rachel. 2009. “Rhetoric Without Results: United Nations Security Council Resolutions Concerning Rape During Armed Conflict.” Penn State International Law Review 28 (1): 83–110.

Author: Rachel Schreck

Abstract:

This comment recognizes the mass sexual atrocities committed against women during and after armed conflict and examines the deficient response by the U.N. to reconcile this prevalent issue. After introducing "one of history's great silences" in Part I, this comment continues in Part II by explaining how rape and sexual violence have a long history of being used as acceptable war tactics. Further, Part II describes the numerous physical and psychological impacts that rape has on victims. Part III discusses the minimal use of international courts and tribunals to prosecute major offenders of rape and sexual violence crimes. International courts have found accepted definitions of rape and sexual violence and include them among those acts that are war crimes. Rape is also included under the purview of an act of torture and an act of genocide. Part IV of this comment examines the recent U.N. Security Council Resolution 1820 and compares it with its predecessor, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325. The comparison of the two U.N. Security Council Resolutions reveals that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1820 fills in the gaps and weaknesses of the former resolution. The passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1820 increases international human rights organizations' hope that the U.N. will finally be able to implement both resolutions. Part V recognizes that further action by the international community is necessary if U.N. Security Council Resolution 1820 is going to be successfully implemented. Part V identifies five fundamental recommendations from international human rights organizations on how to combat sexual violence against women before, during, and after armed conflict. Part VI continues with a discussion on the importance of further action necessary to accomplish the "aspirations" of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1820. Although the Secretary-General recently submitted a report to the United Nations Security Council ("Security Council") on how to implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 1820, the report contained much of the same unproductive language as the U.N. Resolutions. This comment concludes by recognizing that the international community is armed with the necessary tools to successfully implement Security Council Resolution 1820. The success of implementation, however, ultimately depends on whether there will be a collective effort of the U.N. devoted to combating the challenge of eliminating rape and sexual violence during armed conflict.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, International Human Rights, International Organizations, Justice, War Crimes, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1820, Sexual Violence, Rape

Year: 2009

Women, War, and Words: The Gender Component in the Permanent International Criminal Court’s Definition of Crimes Against Humanity

Citation:

Moshan, B. S. 1998. “Women, War, and Words: The Gender Component in the Permanent International Criminal Court’s Definition of Crimes Against Humanity.” Fordham International Law Journal 22: 154–84.

Author: B. S. Moshan

Abstract:

This Comment addresses the intersection of gender issues and human rights law as illustrated by the formation of the permanent ICC. Specifically, it argues that the inclusion of gender- motivated crimes in the ICC's definition of crimes against humanity was necessary to emphasize women's wartime experiences and injuries, but that such inclusion is not enough to ensure gender justice as the ICC begins to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Part I of this Comment discusses the concept of gender-based crimes and illustrates these crimes through recent examples of gender-based violence. It also reviews the history of the ICC, focusing on the events leading up to the Rome Conference and the adoption of the ICC statute. Part II discusses the treatment of gender in the ICC statute. Part III argues that the inclusion of gender-based crimes in the definition of crimes against humanity in the ICC statute is a victory for women's rights, but that the Rome Statute fails to address some of the most essential concerns of women's rights advocates. This Comment concludes that the Rome Statute is ultimately only a partial victory for gender justice.

Topics: Gender, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Human Rights, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 1998

Women and the Law of Armed Conflict: Why the Silence?

Citation:

Gardam, Judith. 1997. “Women and the Law of Armed Conflict: Why the Silence?” The International and Comparative Law Quarterly 46 (1): 55–80.

Author: Judith Gardam

Abstract:

The aim of this article is to extend the critique of human rights law by feminist scholars to humanitarian law—or the law of armed conflict, as it is more traditionally known. When reflecting generally on the role that international law plays in providing protection for women from the effects of violence the obvious starting point is the regime of human rights. So much of human suffering in today's world occurs, however, in the context of armed conflict where to a large extent human rights are in abeyance and individuals must rely on the protections offered by the law of armed conflict. The debate that has been taking place for some years in the context of human rights as to the extent to which that system takes account of women's lives needs to extend to the provisions of the law of armed conflict. Although commentators have convincingly demonstrated the limitations of the existing body of human rights law adequately to take account of the reality of women's experience of the world, the law of armed conflict is even more deficient. Moreover, despite the recent focus on rape in armed conflict as a result of the international outrage at the sexual abuse of women in the armed conflict in the former Yugoslavia, these shortcomings remain largely unaddressed. At first glance this seems somewhat surprising until the special difficulties that flow from certain characteristics of the law of armed conflict are appreciated.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, International Law, International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Sexual Violence Regions: Europe, Balkans Countries: Yugoslavia (former)

Year: 1997

The Impact of the United Nations Human Rights Treaties on the Domestic Level

Citation:

Heyns, Christof, and Frans Viljoen. 2001. “The Impact of the United Nations Human Rights Treaties on the Domestic Level.” Human Rights Quarterly 23: 483–535.

Authors: Christof Heyns, Frans Viljoen

Topics: International Law, International Human Rights, Rights, Human Rights

Year: 2001

International Human Rights Law: Imperialist, Inept and Ineffective? Cultural Relativism and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Citation:

Harris-Short, Sonia. 2003. “International Human Rights Law: Imperialist, Inept and Ineffective? Cultural Relativism and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.” Human Rights Quarterly 25: 130–81.

Author: Sonia Harris-Short

Abstract:

Against the background of the largely theoretical debate concerning the use and potential abuse of the cultural relativism argument by State elites, this article seeks to explore how, if at all, the cultural relativism argument is actually being deployed in practice by state delegates appearing before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Based on the evidence from this analysis, it is contended that "cultural difference" remains a common and formidable argument but that the dynamics of this argument, as played out before the Committee, simply reflect the inherent limitations and fundamental weaknesses of an international legal system founded on a "society of States" in which the voices of the local and particular are effectively silenced.

Topics: Gender, Girls, Boys, International Law, International Human Rights, Rights

Year: 2003

Religious Pluralism, Human Rights and Citizenship in Europe: Some Preliminary Reflections on an Evolving Methodology for Consensus

Citation:

Ali, Shaheen. 2007. Religious Pluralism, Human Rights and Citizenship in Europe: Some Preliminary Reflections on an Evolving Methodology for Consensus. Utrecht: Internsentia.

Author: Shaheen Ali

Abstract:

In part II of the study, the subject of commonalities and similarities between International law and as-Siyar (Islamic International Law) is further explored by Shaheen Sardar Ali. Ali takes the position that not-withstanding the parallel normative origins, and ideological differences of the two systems, there are significant points of concurrence between the two regulatory frameworks." Ali pursues her argument by collating a remarkable array of commonalities in the developmental and contemporary processes of as-Siyar and modern International Law. She argues that in the field of human rights law, the two systems have portrayed and continue to reflect tensions over slavery and women's rights and minority rights. Despite an avowed allegiance to an 'international, extra-territorial and universal' tradition, both as-Siyar and modern international law have deployed expansionist and exploitative strategies. Hegemonic and ideological expansionism, a historic trade-mark of as-Siyar, is visible in the contemporary approaches – adopted by United States foreign policy; 'democracy' and 'human rights' are concepts which have now replaced the pre-modern as-Siyar notion of Jihad, whereby the rights of religious communities are being undermined." The debate over the similarities or differentiation between International law and Islamic legal norms leads to a more fundamental question: Should religious texts or customs or traditions be considered a source [or even a method from which to extract law] of international law alongside treaties, customary international law and general principles?

Topics: Citizenship, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, International Law, International Human Rights, Religion, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Europe

Year: 2007

Global Campaign for Women’s Human Rights: Where Next after Vienna

Citation:

Bunch, Charlotte. 1995. “Global Campaign for Women’s Human Rights: Where Next after Vienna." St. John's Law Review 69: 171-78.

Author: Charlotte Bunch

Topics: Gender, Women, International Law, International Human Rights, International Organizations, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 1995

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