Transforming Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: Principles and Practice

44 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2015 Last revised: 26 Feb 2016

See all articles by Fionnuala D. Ni Aolain

Fionnuala D. Ni Aolain

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

Catherine O'Rourke

Ulster University - Transitional Justice Institute

Aisling Swaine

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Women, Peace and Security

Date Written: March 2, 2015

Abstract

The United Nations Secretary-General’s adoption of a Guidance Note on Reparations for Conflict-related Sexual Violence (2014) marks an important supplement to recent normative developments in the area of gender-sensitive reparations. Despite these progressive normative advances, there remain conceptual gaps in the legal and policy framework for reparations addressing conflict-related sexual violence and, consequently, ongoing challenges in the implementation of gender-sensitive reparations, which this Article identifies. Challenges include the exclusion of women from legal remedies due to definitional, operational, and enforcement bias in the creation and implementation of reparation regimes. Moreover, a limited understanding of who can be the victim of sexual harm means that violence against men is often unseen and unaccounted for when states and other international actors conceive and implement reparations. This Article comprehensively reviews international and domestic practices, addressing legal rules, policy debates, and reparations programming for conflict-related sexual violence. In doing so, the analysis mediates the gap between norm and implementation by surveying common approaches and promising innovations in reparations delivery. The Article concludes that a commitment to transformative reparations is critical to gender-sensitive reparations. Transformative reparations address the immediate reparative needs of survivors of sexual harm, while also being fully cognizant of the social and economic barriers to full equality for women in many societies. Thus, transformative reparations go beyond the immediacy of sexual violence, encompassing the equality, justice, and longitudinal needs of those who have experienced sexual harms. To this end, we propose ten practice-based principles to inform future reparations practice in judicial, peacemaking, and programming contexts for conflict-related sexual violence.

Suggested Citation

Ni Aolain, Fionnuala D. and O'Rourke, Catherine and Swaine, Aisling, Transforming Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: Principles and Practice (March 2, 2015). Harvard Human Rights Journal, Forthcoming; Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-02; Transitional Justice Institute Research Paper No. 16-03. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2572540

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

Catherine O'Rourke

Ulster University - Transitional Justice Institute ( email )

Shore Road
Newtownabbey, County Antrim BT37 OQB
Northern Ireland

Aisling Swaine

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Women, Peace and Security ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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