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The Gender Politics of Fact-Finding in the Context of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda

The Future of Human Rights Fact-Finding (Philip Alston & Sarah Knuckey eds., Oxford University Press, 2015 Forthcoming)

Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-31

Transitional Justice Institute Research Paper No. 14-08

25 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2014 Last revised: 31 Oct 2014

Fionnuala D. Ni Aolain

University of Minnesota Law School; Ulster University - Transitional Justice Institute; University of Ulster - Transitional Justice Institute

Date Written: June 16, 2014

Abstract

In the immediate aftermath of the Global Summit on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, this paper examines the gendered politics of fact-finding. In the context of a decade plus of the Women, Peace and Security agenda and a flurry of UN Security Council Resolutions this paper gives close attention to the constitutive dimensions of producing and identifying facts which then enable political and legal positioning on violence against women in general, and sexual violence in particular. The analysis has particular relevance in the context of agreement on a non-binding Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict (June 2014). I argue that the Protocol elevates fact-finding as part of the discourse and trade in elevating sexual harms in conflict and post-conflict settings. The Protocol also reflects a technocratic response to addressing sexual violence, accompanied by a plethora of gender advisors, rapid response deployment teams to measure and evidence gather on sexual violence, and an overall emphasis on ‘gender’ projects rather than gendered transformation. The analysis is advanced in the context of a broader theoretical critique which addresses intimate violence, and concern over the increased emphasis on documenting certain kinds of physical (primarily sexual) harms over other harms (specifically socio-economic, discrimination and autonomy harms). I affirm the ascendency of sexual violence (notably rape) discourses in international human rights and humanitarian law, the role served by documentation of these ascendant harms and probe the ways in which data collection about penetrative sexual harms serves multiple, and possibly nefarious other interests.

Keywords: Sexual Violence, Rape, Women, Peace, Security, Fact-Finding, Data-Collection, War

Suggested Citation

Ni Aolain, Fionnuala D., The Gender Politics of Fact-Finding in the Context of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (June 16, 2014). The Future of Human Rights Fact-Finding (Philip Alston & Sarah Knuckey eds., Oxford University Press, 2015 Forthcoming); Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-31; Transitional Justice Institute Research Paper No. 14-08. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2451064

Fionnuala D. Ni Aolain (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

229 19th Ave. So.
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
612-624-2318 (Phone)
612-625-2011 (Fax)

Ulster University - Transitional Justice Institute ( email )

Shore Road
Newtownabbey, County Antrim BT37 OQB
Northern Ireland

University of Ulster - Transitional Justice Institute ( email )

Northland Road
Londonderry, BT48 7JL
Ireland

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