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International Human Rights

Violence against Women: The International Legal Response

Citation:

Chinkin, Christine. 1995. “Violence against Women: The International Legal Response.” Gender & Development 3 (2): 23–8.

Author: Christine Chinkin

Abstract:

In demanding the right to be free from violence, women are claiming what they are entitled to. Violence against women must be seen as a human-rights issue, and legal instruments created and enforced to guarantee protection for women.

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

Year: 1995

Trafficking of Child Soldiers: Expanding the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Its Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict

Citation:

Valentine, Sandrine. 2003. "Trafficking of Child Soldiers: Expanding the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Its Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict." New England Journal of International & Comparative Law 9: 109-58.

Author: Sandrine Valentine

Keywords: child soldiers, United Nations, child trafficking, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, causes

Annotation:

This paper discusses the trafficking of children for participation in armed conflicts. The author’s purpose is “to give an international definition of the trafficking of child soldiers, identify the root causes of, and trends in, trafficking and, finally, to give recommendations to prevent and address the trafficking of child soldiers.” The paper focuses on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as the main international legal instrument addressing this issue, and “calls for an approach to the problem of child trafficking that promotes the idea of sharing responsibilities within the society for the complete and healthy development of children and the eradication of the trafficking of child soldiers” (Valentine, 110).

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, International Law, International Human Rights, Trafficking, Human Trafficking

Year: 2003

Rights of the Body and Perversions of War: Sexual Rights and Wrongs Ten Years Past Beijing

Citation:

Petchesky, Rosalind P. 2005. "Rights of the Body and Perversions of War: Sexual Rights and Wrongs Ten Years Past Beijing." International Social Science Journal 57 (184): 301-18.

Author: Rosalind P. Petchesky

Abstract:

The Beijing Platform for Action (1995) and its companion documents – those of the Vienna Conference on Human Rights (1993) and the International Conference on Population and Development (1994) – took important steps toward securing recognition for what we might call human rights of the body. These are affirmative rights relating to sexual expression, reproductive choice and access to health care and negative rights pertaining to freedom from violence, torture and abuse. But ten years later, the violated male bodies of Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, and Gujarat seem to mock certain of Beijing's most basic premises: that women are primarily the victims rather than the perpetrators of bodily abuses; and that, as such, women are, or should be, the privileged beneficiaries of bodily integrity rights. This paper re-examines these premises in the shadow of the “war on terrorism”, religious extremism, and practices of racialised, sexual, and often homophobic violence against men that emerge in wars and ethnic conflicts. In particular it looks at the war in Iraq and how that war configures such practices in both old and new ways. My purpose is not to repudiate feminist visions but rather to challenge the exclusive privileging of women as the bearers of sexual rights and to open up discussion of new, more inclusive coalitions of diverse social movements for rights of the body.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Health, International Human Rights, Peace Processes, Religion, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Torture, Sexual Torture Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: China

Year: 2005

The Absence of Justice: Private Military Contractors, Sexual Assault, and the U.S. Government's Policy of Indifference

Citation:

Snell, Angela. 2011. "The Absence of Justice: Private Military Contractors, Sexual Assault, and the U.S. Government's Policy of Indifference." University of Illinois Law Review, no. 3, 1125-64.

Author: Angela Snell

Abstract:

As the United States remains in Iraq and Afghanistan, stories of abuse by private military contractors (PMCs) have flooded the news. This Note focuses on an area of PMC crime that has garnered less public attention and censure: sexual crimes against civilians in non-war zones. Emphasizing the lack of legal recourse for victims of sexual crime by PMCs and the systematic failure of the United States to punish sexual crime perpetrated by its own PMCs, the author argues that the United States should be held liable for the sexual crimes that its contractors commit, including those that occur outside of war zones.

This note first explains the exponential growth in the United States' use of PMCs and highlights that governmental supervision of PMCs has not kept pace with the number of contractors that the United States employs. Noting that PMCs generally employ former members of the military, the author traces a culture of violence against women back to attitudes learned in the U.S. military, and then shows that PMCs are even more likely to be involved in crimes of sexual violence than U.S. soldiers.

The Note details and analyzes the possibility of responding to PMC sexual violence against civilians outside of war zones under U.S. military law, U.S. criminal law, criminal law where the crime occurs, International Human Rights Law, International Criminal Law, and the U.S. Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The author determines that these methods, as they stand now, are inadequate because of problems of limited jurisdiction, U.S. reluctance to prosecute contractors and willingness to protect U.S. nationals from prosecution abroad, requirements that violence be widespread or systematic before triggering international prosecution, and the absence of state liability for the actions of private individuals, unless the state condones the activities. The author calls for a three-fold solution: first, victims should file complaints against the United States in international courts, under the theory that the United States is liable for its contractors' acts, because it has condoned them by failing to punish them and even actively discouraging their prosecution; second, victims should sue individual perpetrators in the United States under the ATS, both to compensate victims and to deter contractors from future violence; third, and finally, the United States must act to close the jurisdictional gap that allows PMCs to escape prosecution by signing and supporting international treaties, developing its own stricter system of criminal liability for PMCs, and using contract mechanisms to enforce standards of conduct for PMCs.

Keywords: private security, sexual assault, accountability

Topics: International Law, International Criminal Law, International Human Rights, Justice, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Private Military & Security, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, MENA, Americas, North America, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, United States of America

Year: 2011

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