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International Human Rights

The Politics of Gender Violence: Law Reform in Local and Global Places


Lazarus-Black, Mindie, and Sally Engle Merry. 2003. “The Politics of Gender Violence: Law Reform in Local and Global Places.” Law & Social Inquiry 28 (4): 931-9.

Authors: Mindie Lazarus-Black, Sally Engle Merry


The end of the millennium has witnessed an enormous expansion in discourses, intervention practices, and social movements opposing violence against women. Not only does this development affect familial and gender inequalities, but it also reshapes the relationships among communities, states, and the global order. This symposium examines these changing relationships by considering how new discourses, laws, and practices about gender violence between intimates develop through local, national, and global processes. It explores local situations from a global perspective and global processes from a local perspective. Thus, it examines the local-global interface in the creation and implementation of social reforms concerning violence against women. We use the case of violence against women because it offers an excellent vantage point for analyzing the creation of an emerging global system of law based in human rights and assessing its impact on local and national laws and practices. It also offers a site to examine how local actors reformulate the content and meaning of global reform discourses. The articles track actors from local to international settings and back again as they negotiate the application of law to violence against women. This symposium is unusual in its effort to develop theoretical perspectives that consider the relationships between gender violence and the processes of nationalism and globalization. It brings together scholars who have studied efforts to combat violence between intimates in different nations. The authors' empirical ethnographic research merges a local perspective with broader studies of national and global actors and institutions.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Globalization, International Law, International Human Rights, Nationalism, Rights, Human Rights

Year: 2003

Ending the Marginalization: Strategies for Incorporating Women into the United Nations Human Rights System


Gallagher, Anne. 1997. “Ending the Marginalization: Strategies for Incorporating Women into the United Nations Human Rights System.” Human Rights Quarterly 19 (2): 283-333.


This article describes and evaluates the progress made towards developing and incorporating a women perspective into the human rights work of the United Nations and to suggest strategies to facilitate this process. This article sets out to describe and to critically evaluate the progress which has been made towards developing and incorporating a gender perspective into the human rights work of the United Nations, and to suggest strategies that may be adopted to facilitate this process. In doing so, it seeks to examine the reasons why women have been at the periphery of international human rights, and what obstacles remain to their full integration. These objectives presuppose certain views and alliances which deserve to be identified at the outset. For example, it is accepted that human rights discourse, and the institutional structures which have been built around it-despite serious weaknesses-can be a valuable means of securing equality and basic dignity for women throughout the world. It is also accepted that marginalization of a group-any group vis-à-vis the international human rights system is harmful to that group's interest in securing the basic rights to which its members are entitled as equal persons under international law.

Topics: Gender, Women, International Law, International Human Rights, Rights, Human Rights

Year: 1997

Positive Obligations and Gender-based Violence: Judicial Developments


Marshall, Jill. 2008.“Positive Obligations and Gender-based Violence: Judicial Developments.” International Community Law Review 10 (2): 143-69.

Author: Jill Marshall


International human rights protection traditionally protects individuals from human rights violations committed by their own states. This has been criticised by many, and feminists in particular, as failing those who are violated in the 'private sphere', by actions perpetrated by non-state actors not the state itself. Yet protection from the actions of non-state actors is now increasingly falling within the ambit of international human rights law through positive obligations on states, particularly seen in the concept of due diligence. Developments in this area are analysed in this article with focus on recent decisions of international human rights judicial institutions on cases concerning gender-based violence to show how gender-based violations committed by non-state actors are increasingly being included and interpreted as human rights violations. Whilst not without problems, it is argued that the creativity and potential for protecting all persons from human rights violations is shown, particularly through developments towards a right to personal autonomy, identity and integrity.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, International Human Rights, Justice, Rights, Human Rights

Year: 2008

Women and the Atrocities of War


Stephens, Beth, and Mary Ann Dadisman. 1993. “Women and the Atrocities of War.” American Bar Association 20 (3): 12–15.

Authors: Beth Stephens, Mary Ann Dadisman


The article highlights the need to revise the manner in which violence against women is addressed by international law as of 1003. Worldwide, women have called on the United Nations to incorporate women's human rights concerns into the international human rights agenda, particularly the right to be free from physical abuse. The widespread reporting of the brutal rapes inflicted on Moslem women by Bosnian Serb forces over the last year has given an unprecedented visibility to rapes committed during war. Estimates of the number of women raped--many repeatedly--range from several thousand to 20,000 and higher. Rapes have been committed in detention camps, including special prostitution camps, in homes and villages. There are several ways to approach the application of international law to the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Customary international law includes the basic human rights norms that cannot be derogated and are recognized as binding on all nations. It applies during war as well as during peace, prohibiting gross human rights violations. Many of the norms governing the conduct of war have been recognized as customary international law, binding on all parties whether or not they have ratified the Geneva Conventions or any other international agreement.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, International Human Rights, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, SV against Women Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 1993

The Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Treatment of Sexual Violence Against Women


Mantilla Falcón, Julissa. 2005. “The Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Treatment of Sexual Violence Against Women.” Human Rights Brief 12 (2): 1–4.

Author: Julissa Mantilla Falcón


Sexual violence against women is an expression of gender- based violence that affects thousands of women around the world during times of armed conflict, as well as in times of peace. Impunity and silence typically surround these cases.

Many times, victims do not discuss what happened to them because of feelings of shame and guilt. In most cases, government authorities and some sectors of civil society do not consider sexual violence to be a human rights violation. Fortunately, international human rights instruments and judicial decisions have begun to define sexual violence as a violation of human rights and, in some contexts, as a crime against humanity or a war crime.

The work of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (PTRC) made important inroads in identifying sex- ual violence as a human rights violation. In its Final Report, the PTRC analyzed the situation of Peruvian women subjected to sexual violence during the armed conflict and countered the idea that it was simply a collateral damage of war. Asserting that sexual violence is a human rights violation, the PTRC established a record of the sexual violence that occurred during Peru’s 20 year armed conflict and recommended that the State institute a system of reparations for the victims.

The Final Report of the PTRC, released on August 28, 2003, includes a chapter on sexual violence against women. This article presents its main findings.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Society, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, International Human Rights, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, Impunity, Reparations, TRCs, War Crimes, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, SV against Women Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Peru

Year: 2005

Enforcing Women's Rights Through Law


Cook, Rebecca J. 1995. “Enforcing Women’s Rights Through Law.” Gender & Development 3 (2): 8–15.

Author: Rebecca Cook


This article argues that protection of women's rights requires states to undertake gender planning not simply to achieve value of justice, but in order to conform to legally-binding international human-rights standards.

Keywords: human rights, law enforcement, international law, gender empowerment, gender equality

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

Year: 1995

Women's International Human Rights Law: The Way Forward


Cook, Rebecca J. 1993. “Women’s International Human Rights Law: The Way Forward.” Human Rights Quarterly 15 (2): 230-61.

Author: Rebecca Cook

Topics: Gender, Women, International Law, International Human Rights

Year: 1993

Human Rights: A Feminist Perspective


Binion, Gayle. 1995. “Human Rights: A Feminist Perspective.” Human Rights Quarterly 17 (3): 509–26.

Author: Gayle Binion


This paper explores the ways in which human rights might be understood if women's experience were the foundation for the theorizing and enforcement. The argument is not that there is but one feminist perspective -- indeed the title suggests that there might be many. Rather, it is argued that, if one works from the life experiences most common to women, the principles of human rights that would emerge would not necessarily reflect the universe of such rights as they are commonly understood by liberal nation states. While the prototypic "human rights" case involves the individual political activist imprisoned for the expression of his views or political organizing, forms of oppression that do not fit the Bill of Rights model of liberty are rarely recognized in international understandings or national asylum laws. These forms would include, inter alia, issues related to marriage, procreation, labor, property ownership, sexual repression, and other manifestations of unequal citizenship that are routinely viewed as private, nongovernmental, and reflective of cultural difference.

Keywords: international law, human rights, feminism

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, International Law, International Human Rights, Rights, Human Rights

Year: 1995

Cosmopolitan Feminism and Human Rights


Reilly, Niamh. 2007. “Cosmopolitan Feminism and Human Rights.” Hypatia 22 (4): 180–98.

Author: Niamh Reilly


Reilly offers an account of cosmopolitan feminism as emancipatory political practice in an age of globalization. This entails a critical engagement with international human rights law; a global feminist consciousness that contests patriarchal, capitalist, and racist power dynamics in a context of neoliberal globalization; cross-boundaries dialogue that recognizes the intersectionality of forms of oppression; collaborative transnational strategizing on concrete issues; and the utilization of global forums as sites of cosmopolitan solidarity and citizen action.

Keywords: international law, global governance, feminist

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Governance, International Law, International Human Rights

Year: 2007

Women's Rights as Human Rights: Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF)


Hodgson, Dorothy Louise. 2002. “Women’s Rights as Human Rights: Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF).” Africa Today 49 (2): 3–26.

Author: Dorothy Louise Hodgson


In recent years, "women's rights as human rights" has emerged as a new transnational approach to demanding women's empowerment. This article explores the advantages and limitations of such an approach to women's activism in Africa through a case study of Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF), a multinational African NGO that has been at the forefront of using "women's rights as human rights" to educate women throughout the continent about their legal rights, lobby for national legislative reforms, extend the scope of state accountability, and mobilize international support. Issues addressed include the tensions between universal human rights and national and local differences, the significance of a shift from the language of needs to human rights, the influence of transnational meetings and networks, efforts to reconcile internal social differences among members, and the constraints to such an approach.

Keywords: human rights, NGO, transnationalism, law

Topics: Gender, Women, International Law, International Human Rights, NGOs, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa

Year: 2002


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