International Gender Equality Norms and the Local Peacemaking Political Settlement: A Case Study of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Transitional Justice in Northern Ireland

Political Settlements Research Programme, Working Paper 6

Transitional Justice Institute Research Paper No. 17-02

18 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2017  

Catherine O'Rourke

Ulster University - Transitional Justice Institute

Date Written: February 9, 2017

Abstract

The Working Paper considers the relationship of international gender equality norms to the treatment of gender in local peacemaking political settlements through the case study of the recent Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Transitional Justice on Northern Ireland. The paper contends that the Report has impacted the local peacemaking political settlement by establishing an intrinsic connection between the two ostensibly separate objectives of, firstly, devising a process to deal with the past that meets the needs of victims (an objective which does have some elite buy-in) and, secondly, addresses gender (an objective currently without significant elite buy-in). The Working Paper elaborates on five shared grounds identified in the Report for both the specific failings on gender and the broader failings of efforts to date to deal with the past, namely: (1) the focus on deaths to the neglect of other harms; (2) the ‘events-based’ approach, which overlooks structural dynamics and patterns of violations; (3) the absence of baseline data on the violations that occurred and efforts at redress; (4) the fragmented nature of official efforts to deal with the past, that continually disaggregate criminal justice initiatives from truth, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrences; and (5) the striking failure to deliver on reparations to victims. These identified five deficiencies underpin both a failure to address gender and the broader structural limitations of efforts to date to deal with the past in Northern Ireland. Thus, the Report of the Special Rapporteur has made improvements on gender an essential element of overall improvements to official efforts to deal with the past. The Working Paper concludes with some proposals for leveraging the Report to advance the integration of gender in dealing with the past in Northern Ireland and reflects on the implications of the Northern Irish case for similar efforts elsewhere.

Keywords: Transitional justice, international law, gender equality, Northern Ireland, United Nations

Suggested Citation

O'Rourke, Catherine, International Gender Equality Norms and the Local Peacemaking Political Settlement: A Case Study of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Transitional Justice in Northern Ireland (February 9, 2017). Political Settlements Research Programme, Working Paper 6; Transitional Justice Institute Research Paper No. 17-02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2930045 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2930045

Catherine O'Rourke (Contact Author)

Ulster University - Transitional Justice Institute ( email )

Shore Road
Newtownabbey, County Antrim BT37 OQB
Northern Ireland

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