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A Gendered International Law of Peace

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GenderedPeace (A Gendered International Law of Peace)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2020-03-01 do 2021-08-31

• What is the problem/issue being addressed?

The grant application sets out the ambitious academic objective: to develop the foundations for a ‘gendered international law of peace’ by critically engaging with the UN Security Council’s Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, now in its twentieth year. The twenty years since the foundational resolution 1325 have seen the privileging of security over peace, integration of the WPS agenda with that for countering violent extremism, the co-option and instrumentalization of women and a loss of focus on redressing gender and other inequalities. Thus the problem addressed by the project is that the potential for transformative change and radical reform as originally envisaged by the commencement of the WPS agenda has not eventuated and that without radical recentering on peace as perceived through a feminist lens it is unlikely to deliver on gender equality or the favouring of peace over war.

• Why is it important for society?
Informed by insights from multiple disciplines and an innovative reframing of the WPS agenda, the research outputs will contribute to the development of a gendered international law of peace. The costs of failed peace and continuing violence to societies are enormous through collapsed infrastructures, economies and ongoing insecurities. Further the project perceives of peace in a broader sense than absence of conflict, as a process essential for all societies. In developing the first integrated normative framework for understanding what is implicated by ‘peace’ and ‘security’ under international law, this project tackles questions that have never been fully addressed by mainstream accounts in the seven decades since the establishment of the United Nations.

The project has further significance to societies as they seek reconstruction in a post-covid world. Responses to the current pandemic have in many states have seen weakening of human rights guarantees, authoritarianism and been imbued with expressions of the militaristic thinking that has become deeply rooted in social and political institutions and in those who occupy the spaces of power within them. Pursuing rational alternatives in times of crisis and their aftermath is to seek a revolution in mindset, which is what is offered by the feminist activism and reconceptualization that are core to the project. A gendered peace seeks to bring women’s experiences and expertise into policy and decision-making about crisis prevention, crisis and its aftermath whether a pandemic, climate change or conflict that is grounded in human rights, gender equality and social justice. It will challenge the current hierarchies of power and domination based on patriarchy, disruptive ‘gender ideology’ and predatory capitalism and instead look for redistributive change, including equal access to basic resources and valuing of concepts of care and social cohesion.

• What are the overall objectives?
The project’s primary objective is to contribute to the development of a gendered international law of peace that is informed by insights from multiple disciplines and an innovative (and optimistic) reframing of the WPS agenda. It seeks to challenge dominant accounts of what constitutes gender equality and peace, to change the discourse around peace and to prompt further thinking within the research community on how best to secure these goals within a dynamic global landscape. There are thus three parallel objectives:
• to develop the theoretical foundations for a ‘gendered international law of peace’;
• to produce, through five distinct but inter-linked streams of study, research of academic excellence that addresses normative and conceptual knowledge gaps; and
• to develop a new understanding of the WPS agenda within the changed (and changing) geo-political context and so to provide additional tools for furthering gender equality and women’s empowerment during and following conflict.
This project has made significant progress in generating innovative research that develops new understandings of the UNWPS agenda through alternative readings of the key concepts within a gendered understanding of international law and the changing global environment. The work produced in the reporting period has contributed to all three thematic streams set out in the grant proposal including the two cross cutting themes of space and time. The outputs, including journal articles, book chapters, reports, concept notes, blogs, podcasts of public events referred to below in brackets are freely available and accessible through the project webpage.

As set out in the proposal, the project’s overriding aim is to center ‘peace’ rather than ‘security’ in engaging with the WPS agenda to recapture its transformative potential. This conceptual repositioning has framed much of our outputs (‘Women and the right to peace’; Give peace a chance; ‘Intersectionality and Peace’) and external and internal activities (‘Peace’ LSE Philosophy Forum; ‘Peace workshop’ concept note). Our work has inspired scholars specialising in the field of WPS, including from other disciplines, to critically engage with ideas around gendered peace and prompted the British Academy to seek our intellectual input in convening a roundtable on peace in January 2020 with leading scholars from multiple disciplines. In addition to centering peace, our ambition is to surface a more complex understanding of gender and, with this in mind, an initial line of inquiry centered on challenging dominant conceptions of ‘gender’ particularly by UN mandated fact-finding commissions which play a critical role in post-conflict peace-building. Through workshops, collaborative engagements with fact-finders and public events this research has argued for a more nuanced, expansive and embedded understanding of what a gender analysis entails including in the context of international criminal offences (‘Bringing a gender perspective to crimes against humanity’; ‘Integrating gender into Commissions of Inquiry’ concept note)

i) Capturing a gendered peace
Insights gained through direct engagements with women from conflict-affected areas has fed into an enriched understanding of what peace means to differently situated women and helped to identify the gaps and failings in law and policy including, most notably, the fragmentation of the women’s human right’s agenda. For example, the project’s work on trafficking demonstrates how trafficking in women and girls both contributes to and is exacerbated by armed conflict. Yet the issue remains peripheral to the WPS agenda. Working in collaboration with partners (Women’s Link Worldwide, the UN Human Rights Council special rapporteur on human trafficking) the PI has sought to make combatting trafficking a central concern of violence prevention and post-conflict peacebuilding and has generated numerous influential outputs (‘International human rights, criminal law and the women, peace and security agenda’; ‘Human trafficking and the women, peace and security agenda’), provided expert opinions to the Security Council and judicial bodies and convened workshops with key law- and policy-makers. As with trafficking, the project’s work on disarmament also reveals how the discourse around weapons is treated as of marginal relevance to the protection of women’s rights notwithstanding its centrality to conflict prevention. Our work challenges this dominant narrow framing through a more expansive reading of WPS (‘Women and weapons’ concept note; ‘Women’s peace activism can end conflict’).

Surfacing the law upon which the WPS agenda is founded has shaped much of the project’s work. The research has consistently shown how securitisation of the WPS agenda limits its potential to protect women’s human rights and prevent violence – both interpersonal violence and underlying, persistent structural violence (‘Women, Peace and Security: tackling violence against women in the contemporary world?’); that there is a need for states to engage with the WPS framework within a rights-based rather than security framework (‘International human rights, criminal law and the women, peace and security agenda’) including in the digital realm (‘Information and communication technologies and the WPS agenda’); and elaborates on the links between women’s human rights, and most pertinently CEDAW, and the WPS agenda (‘New technologies and women’s rights’; ‘Where would women be without CEDAW?’).

ii) Gender and contemporary forms of violence
Developing an enhanced understanding of how gender operates in contemporary forms of violence to prevent conflict and advance peace has informed this stream (‘Gender and new wars’; ‘Women’s violence and the law’). The research outputs excavate the international responsibility of states, notwithstanding the law’s ambiguity and in so doing rejects claims around ‘ungovernable spaces’ created by the prevalence of different forms of violence (16 Days of Activism’). Outputs press for a more progressive agenda on the international responsibility of non-state actors that better aligns with the lived realities of women’s live remains a core theme (‘In times of crisis’). In particular, the project identifies the lacunae in law and policy to counter violence against women, as well as emerging good practice (‘Preventing and combatting sexism) building on feminist insights into the continuum of violence.

iii) Transformative change
This stream identifies the failings of international criminal law in addressing gender based crimes in conflict (Post Bemba) and offers legal analyses to reverse gender injustices in existing law (Colombia amicus brief; Gender Justice and Gender Peace). The outputs argue for adoption of survivor-centric (Ending impunity and prioritising survivors) intersectional (An inclusive survivor centered approach), holistic approaches in response to such offences and draws linkages between human rights law and WPS. The research emphasises the obligation on states to provide reparations and demonstrates how a gender analysis can ensure effective compliance, address the particular needs of survivors and facilitate structural change thereby preventing the occurrence of violence in the first place (The right to reparations; Inter-American Court reaches landmark decision on torture and sexual slavery). What constitutes a gender just peace and the responsibility of states to deliver on that is at the core of this work.

The cross-cutting theme of ‘space’ has directed our attention to addressing normative gaps as well as spaces in which multiple actors operate (‘Protecting women and girls in refugee camps’; ‘Yemeni activists pay the price’) while that of ‘time’ has propelled us to look to the histories of feminist peace activism, including through archival work, to reflect on what questions we pose and what lessons might be learned in reimagining contemporary law (100 years of peace activism; ‘The world is not organised for peace’; ‘Women’s peace activism and conflict’; Gender Justice and Gender Peace).
Work within the project has been predicated on feminist principles and feminist methodologies. It has proceeded on many fronts including through library-based and archival research, public events, presentations, interactive workshops and roundtables, field research. Outputs have been many and in a variety of formats including concept notes, academic articles, policy reports and briefs, blogs, educational materials and module, expert opinions. They have been targeted at diverse audiences and disseminated through different platforms.

Progress beyond the state of the art includes the following:

(i) Reframing the WPS discourse through imagining a gendered international law of peace:

• The accumulative impact of our outputs is a recentring of peace within the WPS agenda while amplifying the international legal regimes that are embedded within that agenda.
• Outputs have consistently sought to elaborate on the scope and content of state responsibility and to address the normative gaps revealed through critical analysis to advance social interaction founded on gender equality and a gender just peace.
• Developing and linking cross-cutting themes across the research streams, bringing these to legal analysis enriched by insights from other disciplines and building a catalogue of outputs that speak to different stakeholders.

(ii) Countering the history and practice of exclusion and marginalisation

• Through our outputs and activities we continue to challenge mainstream scholarship that too often fails to take account of alternative histories, perspectives and voices thereby perpetuating exclusion and marginalisation (and indeed discrimination, intended or not), foreclosing opportunities for transformative change.
• In particular, when designing our activities we remain committed to creating safe spaces and platforms in which diversity and difference can thrive and is celebrated and alternative voices are registered.

We are on track to meet the objectives set out in the grant proposal, namely, to produce two articles emanating from each stream published in open access peer reviewed journals and two monographs: A Gendered International Law of Peace: A Reconceptualisation of International Law (Chinkin and Arimatsu); Women, Peace and Security as a Regime of International Law (Chinkin).