Women’s Rights in Armed Conflict under International Law

The impact of conflict on the lives and rights of women is an issue of growing international importance.


Funder: UK Department for International Development Political Settlements Research Programme
Irish Fulbright Scholar Award 2016-2017
Duration: 2015-2019

Staff Involved

Dr Catherine O'Rourke

Description

The impact of conflict on the lives and rights of women is an issue of growing international importance. Several regimes of international law now seek to address the impact of conflict on women’s rights and, increasingly, regime activities overlap. Normative and legal developments across international humanitarian law, international criminal law, international human rights law and the United Nations Security Council have proliferated in response to the complexity of women’s experiences of conflict.

The relevant laws are developed at different times by different groups of states, motivated by divergent priorities and influenced by disparate non-state actors. Moreover, they are implemented by separate institutions with widely varying powers of monitoring and enforcement, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Criminal Court, human rights treaty monitoring bodies and the United Nations Security Council. Uncertainty about the interaction between regimes presents practical and conceptual problems for those responsible for maintaining, understanding and complying with international law, as well as for advocates who engage international law to advance women’s rights in conflict.

This project is the first to account for the pluralism and institutional diversity of the regulation of women’s rights in conflict under international law. The primary output (Catherine O’Rourke, Women’s Rights in Armed Conflict under International Law, in-press Cambridge University Press) identifies the key aspects of how international humanitarian law, international criminal law, international human rights law and the United Nations Security Council regulate women’s rights in conflict.

It further considers how these different regimes interact. Crucially, the book reveals the institutional implications of overlapping regime activities, by examining international legal scrutiny of conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia and Nepal. The book offers a dynamic account of how regimes and institutions interact in the regulation of women’s rights in conflict, the extent to which they reinforce each other, and the tensions and gaps in regulation that emerge. The book proposes how regimes should interact, in the regulation of conflict and beyond, in order to complement and reinforce international law norms concerning women’s rights.

The project will be of interest to scholars, students and practitioners of gender and conflict, from diverse disciplinary perspectives, seeking to better understand how international law regulates the lives and rights of women in conflict. The methodology and findings will be of interest to scholars of fragmentation and public international law.