Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Blog against sexism day: Resources on Feminist Analysis of International (Criminal) Law

Today is the 8th of March, International Women’s Day and, in the blogosphere, blog against sexism day. In the spirit of solidarity, I would like to contribute with a short post on feminist legal theory in international law.
While I am interested in feminist approaches to international law, I do not feel knowledgeable enough to contribute a substantial post. So instead, I will limit myself to pointing out some works and resources that might be of interest to readers also interested in this critical approach:

First, two works with regard to international law in general:
  • Berta E. Hernández-Truyol, “Crossing Borderlands of Inequality with International Legal Methodologies – The Promise of Multiple Feminisms”, 44 German Yearbook of International Law (2001), 113–169
This article gives a very detailed overview of the inequalities and oppression women are facing all over the world, as well as the history of feminist thought in general and with regard to (international) law especially.
  • Hillary Charlesworth and Christine Chinkin, The Boundaries of International Law: A Feminist Analysis (2000)
This is probably the classic overall treatise on the subject. The authors give an overview of feminist theories and of how they may be applied to international law and apply these theories to “cornerstones” of international law such as the sources of law and the “idea of the state”, as well as to concrete areas of the law, such as human rights or the use of force. They conclude with some considerations on “redrawing the boundaries of international law”. For a more in-depth review, see Kerry Rittich, 14 Leiden Journal of International Law (2001), 935–939.

With regard to international criminal law:
  • Christine Chinkin, “Feminist Reflections on International Criminal Law”, in: Andreas Zimmermann/Ursula E. Heinz (eds.), International Criminal Law and the Current Development of Public International Law (2002), 125–160.
Starting from an account of the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on the treatment of Japanese “comfort women” organized by NGOs in 2000, Prof. Chinkin lays out a number of “themes integral to a feminist analysis of international criminal law. These are the grip of the public/private distinction in international law; identifying the silence of the law; reconceptualizing international criminal offences; and the procedures of international criminal law”, and the importance of networking and campaigning by women in order to achieve changes in the law (127). Her essay thus introduces several key concepts of (international) feminist legal theory in general and in their application to international criminal law. Her conclusion yields a “mixed picture” (157) – most importantly in my view, she warns against relying too much on international criminal law in the context of post-conflict reconstruction.
  • Vesna Nikolic-Ristanovic, “Sexual Violence, International Law and Restorative Justice”, in: Doris Buss/Ambreena Manji (eds.), International Law – Modern Feminist Approaches (2005), 273–293
This article deals with the potentials and limits of punitive justice (e.g. the ICTY), but also of efforts aimed at healing and at restorative justice, for victims of sexual(ized) violence in the context of armed conflicts.

Happy reading!