Women in Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Dilemmas and Directions

43 Pages Posted: 31 May 2006

See all articles by Naomi Cahn

Naomi Cahn

University of Virginia School of Law


A critical issue for post conflict reconstruction is moving beyond criminal prosecutions that ensure accountability of perpetrators toward a system that also serves the needs of victims. When reconstruction includes disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) and development services, these programs cannot be separated from perpetrator responsibility. The traditional criminal justice is perpetrator-centric. Alternative forms of justice have broadened this focus, recognizing that the legal system must respond to both victims and perpetrators. Transitional justice, which focuses on responding to past human rights violations, is critical to holding violators accountable for their acts.

In addition to criminal and civil accountability (rights-based justice), perhaps the most significant form of justice for women is assistance traditionally associated with development, as it provides critical social services and facilitates all aspects of post conflict reconstruction. This article seeks to expand conceptions of international justice in the post conflict setting to include social, economic, and development-based rights. It examines two aspects of gender that are integral to post conflict reconstruction and involve women's differing roles during conflict: the significance of integrating gender into DDR and the necessity of domestic responses to the crimes of sexual violence.

Keywords: post-conflict reconstruction, gender, sexual violence, disarmament, demobilization, reintegration

JEL Classification: K1, K33, N47

Suggested Citation

Cahn, Naomi R., Women in Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Dilemmas and Directions. William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, Vol. 12, p. 335, 2006, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 209, GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 209, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=905331

Naomi R. Cahn (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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