Symposium to Celebrate the work of Professor Dianne Otto

The SOAS Centre for Gender Studies is thrilled to be hosting a symposium to celebrate the contribution of Professor Dianne Otto – Francine V McNiff Chair in Human Rights Law, Director of the Institute for International Law and the Humanities (IILAH) and Co-Director of its International Human Rights Law Program at Melbourne Law School – to international law, collective security, queer approaches and feminist thinking.

The one day symposium will see key scholars engage with Professor Otto’s work under the themes of security, rights, methods and queer before closing with an address from Di.

Professor Otto was an original international law grrl – in the sense of publishing from the mid-1990s on feminist approaches to international law and, by the mid-2000s, contributing key scholarship on the emerging collective security structure on women, peace and security, including the seminal piece A Sign of “Weakness”? Disrupting Gender certainties in the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325  in Michigan Journal of Gender and Law.  The article was arguably the first critical feminist engagement with the emergent women, peace and security framework as it developed in the work of the UN Security Council. Professor Otto’s tremendous contribution also places her at the forefront of approaches to queering international law and a long time contributor to the development and critique of international human rights law, having edited the three volume set on Gender Issues and Human Rights published in 2013. Her recent publications on Queering Gender Identity in International Law and Decoding Crisis in International Law are must reads for anyone with an eye on cutting edge developments in critical engagements with international law.

Professor Otto was was a member of the Expert Panel at the Asia-Pacific Regional Women’s Hearing on Gender-Based Violence in Conflict held in Phnom Penh in 2012 and has a long history of NGO collaboration and activism: too long to list here! Do come along on September 2nd in the Khalili Lecture Theatre at SOAS, University of London to help us celebrate a wonderful international law grrl Prof. Further event details here or contact Di Otto at CGS

Time to rethink the women, peace and security agenda?

On June 24th 2013 the Security Council, under the Presidency of the United Kingdom, issued its sixth Agota Sjostromresolution on women, peace and security, Resolution 2106. Although under the rubric of women, peace and security, the new resolution focuses on measures to prevent and deter sexual violence in armed conflict. In continuing the focus on sexual violence the resolution takes us full circle from the first resolution on women, peace and security, Resolution 1325, which incorporated the Council’s response to sexual violence within armed conflict as an element of a broader approach. The new resolution, in contrast, places sexual violence as the primary concern and then incorporates additional issues relating to women, peace and security only as elements of responding to combating sexual violence– including HIV, sexual and reproductive health, women’s participation, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration processes.

While deploring the violence and suffering men and women experience as victims of conflict, including sexual violence, I wish to challenge the disproportionate attention to sexual violence as the epitome of women’s experiences of armed conflict. The failure of this approach to see or hear women as actors across the spectrum of conflict experiences reinforces women as represented through victimhood, vulnerability and childhood. Although Resolution 2106 acknowledges men and women as victims of sexual violence in armed conflict (in paragraph 6 of the preamble) the operative paragraphs fall back into the use of ‘women and children’ terminology risking not only the erasure of the experiences of male survivors but also re-asserting an equivalence between women and children in conflict situations that is ultimately harmful to women. Continue reading