Launching the Winter 2018 Issue of the Transitional Justice Institute Research Paper Series on SSRN

Elise Ketelaars and Catherine O’Rourke

We are delighted to present a new issue of the Ulster University Transitional Justice Institute Research Paper Series on the Social Sciences Research Network. The issue broadly addresses the fields of peacebuilding and transitional justice in Northern Ireland and Latin America. Each of the papers emphasize, in their own ways, the importance of in-depth case study research in enriching their fields of scholarship. Moreover, the issue once again highlights the strong and durable relations that TJI scholars have maintained with practice and activism within and outside Northern Ireland. The issue displays the value of these ties in creating both impactful and innovative approaches to peacebuilding, humanitarian work and justice in societies in transition.

Cath Collins’ report summary on disappearance and enforced disappearance in past political violence in Latin America neatly illustrates the importance of scholar-activism-policy ties. In addition to being a professor at TJI, Cath Collins is the founder and director of the Transitional Justice Observatory at the Universidad Diego Portales, Chile. In her contribution, she collates and synthesises the results of three stimulating dialogues between law, social science and forensic (natural) sciences that took place in Santiago de Chile and Lima, Peru in 2017. The dialogues were organized to inform efforts to give domestic effect in Chile and Peru to the International Convention against Enforced Disappearance. The challenges addressed in the dialogues resonate across many other transitional contexts and confirm the value of disseminating this unique case study research.

The other three contributions concern the Northern Irish context in single case study and comparative research. The paper of Monica McWilliams and Jessica Doyle exemplifies the ongoing engagement of the authors and the TJI with understanding gender based violence in transitional settings. The paper explores the links between intimate partner violence and violent conflict based on findings from more than 100 in-depth semi-structured interviews with women victims of IPV from across Northern Ireland. The paper combines findings from McWilliams’ 1992 study on domestic violence in Northern Ireland with new data she and Doyle gathered during the course of 2016. The paper thereby presents a rare empirically grounded insight into the impact of transition from conflict to peace on intimate partner violence.

Kris Brown’s paper examines the impact on peacebuilding of partisan political commemoration. The paper’s salience is undeniable in light of Northern Ireland’s current ‘Decade of Centenaries’, which encompasses the foundational years in modern Irish history of 1912 to 1923, This paper, in addition to McWilliams and Doyle’s, is an output of the DFID-funded Political Settlements Research Programme, a unique North-South, scholar-practitioner consortium of five institutions (University of Edinburgh Global Justice Academy, Ulster University Transitional Justice Institute, Conciliation Resources, Rift Valley Institute and the Institute for Security Studies).

Finally, we are delighted to present a contribution on the role that ‘wild nature’ can play in peacebuilding, or ‘peace cultivation’. The paper was presented by TJI/INCORE’s Brandon Hamber and Alistair Little and Wilhelm Verwoerd at the 29th Annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg University in Minneapolis. Little and Verwoerd belong to ‘Beyond Walls’ which organises ‘the Journey through Conflict’ process in the framework of ‘Sustainable Peace Network’. Between 2004 and 2011 they have facilitated peacebuilding activities through immersion of participants in ‘wild nature’ in the Scottish Highlands and South Africa. The role of nature in peacebuilding activities has been underexplored. Through the continuous monitoring of the experiences of the over 100 individuals who participated in ‘the Journey through Conflict’ over the years, however, this paper gives a fascinating insight into the role of nature-based activities in peacebuilding. This joint intellectual effort between Hamber and the practitioners from Beyond Walls once again demonstrates how strong and sustainable ties between academia and practice create fertile ground for innovative contributions to scholarship.

 

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Launching the Autumn/Winter Issue of the Transitional Justice Institute Research Paper Series on SSRN

Catherine O’Rourke and Elise Ketelaars

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new issue of the Ulster University Transitional Justice Institute Research Paper Series on the Social Sciences Research Network. This exciting new issue engages both with highly-topical contemporary questions, as well as long-standing challenges in international law, peace, human rights and gender equality. First off, we are particularly pleased to be able to share the full-text of Louise Mallinder‘s recent inaugural professorial lecture at Ulster University. In this thoughtful and provocative contribution, Mallinder explores long-term trends in amnesty laws and locates contemporary political developments in broader historical context. Eilish Rooney‘s highly unique and rich contribution offers pedagogic reflections on her experience of developing and delivering a Grassroots Transitional Justice Toolkit to community development students and practitioners in Belfast.

Both the contributions of Mallinder and Rooney reflect long-term bodies of work, which are currently supported by the DFID-funded Political Settlements Research Programme, a unique North-South, scholar-practitioner consortium of five institutions (University of Edinburgh Global Justice Academy, Ulster University Transitional Justice Institute, Conciliation Resources, Rift Valley Institute and the Institute for Security Studies). We are delighted to showcase some of the programme outputs here. All of the programme outputs are available open access through the publications database at the programme website.

The contribution of TJI friend and colleague, Evelyn Schmid, is the latest in her body of work exploring the potential of international criminal law in the advancement and enforcement of socio-economic rights. The paper considers the implications and risks of recent developments at the International Criminal Court pointing to increased priority for crimes involving illegal exploitation of resources and illegal dispossession of land.  Finally, Anne Smith and Leo Green make a timely and important intervention into debates about the protection of human rights in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as the UK advances its withdrawal from the European Union. The authors consider and compare the drafting processes to date for the all-island Charter of Rights and the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights, both of which were promised in the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement but remain outstanding. The authors emphasize the importance of inclusive and deliberative drafting processes, and offer this as a potential pathway out of the prevailing political stasis surrounding both documents.

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Launching the Spring Issue of the Transitional Justice Institute Research Paper Series on SSRN

Catherine O’Rourke and Elise Ketelaars

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new issue of the Ulster University Transitional Justice Institute Research Paper Series on the Social Sciences Research Network. This exciting new issue engages both with highly-topical contemporary questions, as well as long-standing challenges in international law, peace, human rights and gender equality. First off, Thomas Obel Hansen considers the Policy Paper of the ICC on preliminary examinations and its potential to advance ‘positive complementarity’ between the operation of the court and the domestic pursuit of justice for conflict victims. At a time of apparent crisis for the court, scholarship such as Hansen’s that addresses this critical relationship between its operation and broader domestic impacts is critical. Aisling Swaine, the leading global expert in National Action Plans (NAPs) for Women, Peace and Security, examines relevant practice to date in the Asia-Pacific region. She demonstrates an exciting new methodology for gender-responsive planning, which has relevance well beyond the specifics of Asia Pacific, namely the ‘Gender Needs Analysis Tool’. Likewise, the findings, conclusions and recommendations offer immediate policy relevance to the current 63 UN member states with NAPs on Women, Peace and Security, as well as those currently developing or reviewing NAPs.

Contributions by Catherine O’Rourke and the joint article by Anne Smith, Monica McWilliams and Priyamvada Yarnell both address the question of international human rights obligations and their current and potential impact on Northern Ireland. Catherine O’Rourke, in research from the DFID-funded Political Settlements Research Programme, considers the recent report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Truth, Justice, Reparations and Guarantees of Non-recurrence on his country visit to Northern Ireland. She identifies the potential for the report to positively re-shape both the diagnostic (defining the problem) and prognostic (identifying the solutions) framing of the vexed issue of how to deliver accountability for past conflict killings and harms in Northern Ireland. Finally, Anne Smith, Monica McWilliams and Priyamvada Yarnell engage with the highly topical challenges of protecting human rights in Northern Ireland as the UK advances its withdrawal from the European Union. In a timely and important contribution, the authors consider how the long-promised Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland might finally be advanced as part of broader efforts to ensure continued human rights protections in the midst of Brexit.

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Mainstreaming Women’s Rights in the Human Rights Council Special Procedures: The UN Special Rapporteur on Transitional Justice and UN Security Council Resolution 1325

One of the most significant contemporary developments in international law and its application to the lives of women is the political prominence and proliferating legal development concerning women’s rights in conflict. Against the backdrop of extensive normative and legal activity on this theme across multiple regimes of international law, legitimate questions are being asked as to the efficacy of this norm proliferation. In my new Working Paper for the Political Settlements Research Programme, I consider the local significance of the recent Report on Northern Ireland by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparations and Guarantees of Non-recurrence (informally known as the Special Rapporteur on Transitional Justice). I conclude very positively about the Report’s genuine integration of gender concerns throughout and its potential impact on state and civil society proposals to deal with the past. More negatively, however, I conclude with some concern about the Report’s treatment of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and its application to Northern Ireland. In this post, I identify the problem with how the Report addresses the Resolution’s application. I further address the wider significance of this error for broader efforts to improve the integration of proliferating normative and legal activity to advance women’s rights in conflict under international law.

 

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Pursuing Synergies to Guarantee Women’s Rights in Conflict: The UN Security Council Arria Formula Meeting on CEDAW and the Women, Peace and Security Resolutions

Catherine O’Rourke, author of today’s post, and Aisling Swaine co-authored the UN Women (2015) Guidebook on CEDAW General Recommendation Number 30 and the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security.

A key conclusion of the Global Study on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was the need for improved synergies between the treaty-based human rights system and the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda:

To fully realize the human rights obligations of the women, peace and security agenda, all intergovernmental bodies and human rights mechanisms must act in synergy to protect and promote women’s and girls’ rights at all times, including in conflict and post-conflict situations. (page 350)

The drive towards improved synergies between WPS and broader human rights obligations was given significant impetus in October 2013, when the monitoring Committee of CEDAW adopted General Recommendation Number 30 on the rights of women in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations. The Committee called on CEDAW state parties to inter alia ensure that implementation of their WPS commitments was taking place within the broader equality and women’s rights obligations of CEDAW. Further, state parties are called to report on implementation of their WPS commitments in their periodic reports to CEDAW.

The recent Arria Formula meeting between the UN Security Council and representatives from civil society, UN Women and the CEDAW Committee was an important milestone in the continued pursuit of such synergies. Held in UN Headquarters in New York on December 5, 2016, the meeting was convened by Security Council non-permanent member Uruguay. It was formally addressed by Yannick Glemarec, UN Women; Pramila Patten, CEDAW Committee; and Maria Victoria Cabrera-Balleza, Global Network for Women Peacebuilders. The speakers emphasized the following three dividends to be gained:

Information: Improved information sharing between the CEDAW Committee and the Security Council was identified as an important benefit of improved synergies. For example, the Security Council’s assessment of country situations should be informed by the CEDAW Committee’s assessment of women’s rights in the same country, gleaned through state reporting, shadow reporting and the women’s rights issues prioritised in Committee’s Concluding Observations to states. Likewise, the CEDAW Committee could draw on the Security Council activities in situations on its agenda to identify issues for further exploration through state reporting.

Civil Society Participation: The CEDAW process of periodic state examination, as well as broad standing for individual communications and inquiry requests under the CEDAW Optional Protocol, were identified as offering particular opportunities for civil society participation without significant parallel in the WPS resolutions.

Feminist Framing: The clear emphasis of the CEDAW Convention, Committee and General Recommendation Number 30 on women’s human rights, conflict prevention per se (as distinct from the narrower question of women’s role in conflict prevention) and disarmament (for example, the role of the Arms Trade Treaty in advancing WPS) was repeatedly noted. This mooted feminist framing offered a worthy counterpoint to the security and sexual violence focused activities of the Security Council.

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