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)
25 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2014 Last revised: 22 Jul 2020
Date Written: June 16, 2014
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
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