Jane Addams and Belva Ann Lockwood, et al., the newest members of ASIL

A warm welcoming of new members highlighted the recent annual meeting of the American Society of International Law.

Those welcomed included two luminaries – a Nobel Peace Prizewinner and a U.S. Presidential candidate – plus untold others, as reflected in this resolution, adopted by ASIL’s General Assembly:


That the American Society of International Law, wishing to provide recognition and posthumous redress to women who were excluded from membership in the Society during its early years, hereby confers membership on JANE ADDAMS, BELVA ANN LOCKWOOD, and any other women whose applications for membership were denied from 1906-1921.


That the Society should undertake additional research to determine which members of other groups also were excluded from membership over the course of the Society’s history, and merit similar redress.

ASIL President Lucinda A. Low (left) introduced the resolutions, one of her last acts before handing the presidency to Professor Sean D. Murphy. Low, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, acted in response to a member inquiry – an inquiry prompted, as Low told ASIL members, by “International Law and the Future of Peace,” the speech I gave upon receiving the 2013 Prominent Woman in International Law award of ASIL’s Women in International Law Interest Group. As I indicated in that speech, original credit is owed to yet another ASIL President: Professor Alona Evans (below left), the 1st woman elected to lead the Society, in 1980, her tenure cut short by her death at age 63 that same year.

Six years earlier, Evans and Carol Per Lee Plumb had published “Women and the American Society of International Law” in the American Journal of International Law. They reported that ASIL, founded in 1906, had refused women’s applications for membership until 1921, the year after the U.S. Constitution was amended to give women the right to vote. Applicants before that time included:

► Lockwood (1830-1917) (top, middle), an attorney-activist who gained admittance to the District of Columbia bar in 1873 thanks to the intervention of U.S. President Ulysses Grant. Thereafter, she became the 1st woman to appear on an official ballot as a candidate for U.S. President, and also the 1st to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

► Addams (1860-1935) (top, right), the Chicago settlement house leader whose achievements including chairing the 1915 International Congress of Women at The Hague and serving and the 1st President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She would earn the Peace Prize in 1931.

According to Evans’ co-authored article, when Addams sought ASIL membership, she was sent a letter in which she was “invited, instead, to subscribe to the Journal ‘for the same amount as the annual dues ….’” That letter constitutes one of the few remaining records of such applications; it is for this reason that the 2018 Resolution refers to all women, known and unknown, who were denied membership.

Similarly lacking is evidence of how members of other groups fared in ASIL. (The sole African-American person elected ASIL President, C. Clyde Ferguson Jr., served just before Evans.) The Society has further resolved to seek this information and grant redress.

As for Evans, President Low indicated that the Society is considering how best to honor her legacy. These resolutions surely constitute a superb 1st step.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Recent developments in Colombian jurisprudence on conflict-related sexual violence

During her first visit to Colombia last month, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura drew attention to the issue of sexual violence in Colombia’s five decade long conflict. She met with government officials, survivors and civil society to discuss the progress made in preventing and responding to sexual violence. The conflict, which has involved left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and state security forces, has taken a heavy toll on the civilian population, in particular women and children. Those who have experienced sexual violence want their crimes acknowledged. Ms Bangura’s message was clear: Colombian authorities must work to end the silence and impunity surrounding these crimes.

This is an important message. Despite their prevalence, sexual violence crimes are rarely prosecuted, and impunity levels remain high. However, several recent decisions—in which courts have stressed the need for accountability—reflect positive developments in the judiciary’s handling of these crimes.

Colombia’s Constitutional Court has played a significant role in giving sexual violence crimes visibility. In January of this year, the Constitutional Court issued Auto (Order) 009, in which it noted “with alarm” the persistence of sexual violence as a serious form of gender discrimination. It urged authorities to not only address these crimes, but to comply with their obligations to prevent and ensure their non-repetition. Importantly, it stressed that all parties to the conflict were responsible for such crimes, and referred over 400 sexual violence cases to the Attorney General’s Office for investigation and prosecution.

The Court also highlighted two underreported issues. It noted that sexual violence against children illegally recruited by armed groups persists, in particular against indigenous children. During her visit, Ms Bangura also referred to this issue as well as to the silence that exists regarding the generations of children born out of rape. Additionally, the Court recognized that women are at times targeted for sexual violence and displaced because of their sexual orientation−an aspect of the conflict often ignored.

This ruling follows the Court’s landmark decision of 2008, Auto 092 on women and displacement, in which it acknowledged that women are among those most affected by displacement and that displaced women are particularly at risk of sexual violence. In that ruling, the Court stressed that sexual violence is “a habitual, extensive, systematic and invisible practice in the context of the Colombian armed conflict”. It called on the Attorney General’s Office to investigate 183 cases attached to the decision. Continue reading

Beyond Sexual Violence: Gendered Political Insecurity as a Threat to Peace

Julieta Lemaitre and Kristin Bergtora Sandvik

Based on extensive field research in Colombia, our new article Beyond Sexual Violence in Transitional Justice: Political Insecurity as a Gendered Harm examines political insecurity as a specifically gendered harm that must be addressed in the ongoing Colombian transitional justice process.

In a previous blogpost we described the tragic plight of the women’s rights activist and survivor of sexual violence Angélica Bello. Bello was one of the main proponents of Law 18 June 2014, which sets out to guarantee access to justice for victims of sexual violence. The Law is part of the transitional justice process and seeks to bring Colombian law into harmony with international law regarding sexual violence in the context of the armed conflict. It defines crimes of sexual violence as war crimes and crimes against humanity, and sets out criteria for investigating sexual crimes and protecting survivors analogous to those of the ICC. As the peace negotiations in Havana between the government and the FARC guerrilla continue to make slow but steady progress, the sexual violence agenda increasingly captures the field of harms to women in war.

While recognizing the importance of this law, we nevertheless suggest that it is a problem for the ongoing transitional justice process that there are so few articulations of what other kinds of gendered harms may look like and how they should be effectively addressed. Much of the growing literature on gender in armed conflict and the debates over post-conflict reparations for women focuses on the prevalence and harms of sexual violence. This development has engendered controversial debates concerning the alleged prioritization of sexual violence at the expense of other harms to women, whether this debate sexualizes and infantilizes women, as well as with respect to forms of victimization not captured by feminist frames of reference, such as male rape (This is often framed as a debate between the Halley and MacKinnon schools of thought). In her work on reparations, Ruth Rubio-Marin takes issue with what she sees as an excessive emphasis on sexual violence in transitional justice, embodying both a suggestion that sexual harm is the worst abuse that can happen to women and the entrenchment of a patriarchal ideal of female chastity. Rubio-Marin (2012) argues that the ‘hyper-attention’ to sex now risks doing further harm to women by deviating attention from other non-sexual forms of sex-specific harms, and isolating sexual and gender based violence from broader agendas that confront the multiple gendered forms of harm and injustice.

What are these other gender specific harms? What should transitional justice focus on beyond sexual violence? How can we think of gendered harms in relation to poverty alleviation or of resource redistribution?

In our article, we argue that if civic trust is to be built among all citizens, women’s experience of exclusion from the political through force and intimidation must be included in the narratives of armed conflict, political insecurity and the aftermath of war. Importantly, political insecurity is complex and extends beyond conflict between the state and the guerrillas, and yet the guarantee of security of political activity is a central component of a transition to peace. Arguably, political insecurity will persist as long as there is no effective challenge to the subnational hold of illegal armed actors emerging in the aftermath of war. The insecurity fostered by these actors is gendered, enforcing cultural mandates to confine women to the domestic space. In a transition to the end of armed conflict guerrillas can stop being both a threat for community organizing, and a justification for state repression.

Finally, we also suggest that the complete dismantling of gendered political insecurity will remain a challenge for transitional justice. A just transition to peace for women would require first, the dismantling of the capacity of private powers (at least of organized crime and business interests) to use violence to achieve their economic goals, and it will also require a vigorous promotion of women’s political participation at the grassroots level. More scholarly attention to the gendered aspects of these problems and scenarios is needed as Colombia continues to stumble towards the end of its 5o year old civil war.

“Ferguson”: Caitlyn Clark’s poem to America, at John Legend concert

Stunned to listen to this poem by Caitlyn Clark, recited on stage at a John Legend’s Hollywood Bowl concert 2 days ago. It’s moving, heartfelt, raw, and real. She wants to make revolution not with the children who have been felled but with those who still live and can bring change to our troubled times. And, I am most proud to say, she is my cousin, daughter of my favorite first cousin, who, as she tells the world in this amazing video, did 6 months’ active duty at Bagram Prison, Afghanistan. ¡Brava, Caitlyn!

(Cross-posted by Diane Marie Amann)

Write On! Naval War College Seeks Papers on Women, Peace, Security

(Photo Credit: U.S. Navy)

The U.S. Naval War College (NWC) is issuing a call for papers in preparation for its third annual Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Conference Series to be held at the NWC in Newport, Rhode Island, April 16-17, 2015.

In an effort to gather theoretical and practical ideas from a wider audience not normally represented in a limited conference format, the conference series chair is soliciting papers from academics, researchers, military personnel, non-governmental organizations and individuals who have an interest or experience in issues pertaining to WPS.

In support of the conference theme, “Constructive Pathways: Stimulating and Safeguarding Components of Women, Peace, and Security,” interested parties can contribute to this goal by submitting a paper on one of the following subjects:

  • Department of Defense operational aspects of WPS
  • How different types of conflict impact minority populations
  • Regional viewpoints of modern conflict zones
  • Efforts in soft and hard power
  • Media, arts, information and communication networks
  • Law, politics and governance
  • Quantitative studies

    Selected papers will be published on the NWC website and accessible to U.S. Navy personnel fleet-wide. Proposals must be submitted by Nov. 1, 2014. Submission guidelines can be found at https://www.usnwc.edu/wps2015-callforpapers.

Women’s independence

congressThe 4th of July holiday tends to find me thinking about women and independence. This year’s no different, and a bit of research led to the discovery that it’s a noteworthy centenary: In mid-June 1913, women from all over the world traveled to Budapest for the International Woman Suffrage Congress.

Within a month, leaders of the movement published accounts of the Congress in Jus Suffragii, a globally distributed monthly.  Celebrated were women’s internationalism and solidarity. Delighting in Hungarian authorities’ insistence that the delegates remove their hats, Connecticut native Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote:

‘Women went about with their heads bare and their hands free.’

Suffrage victories also were celebrated. While the Congress was in session, Jus Suffragii reported, delegate Jane Addams received a telegram telling her that women in Illinois (her home state, and, incidentally, mine) were winning the vote. The Illinois women’s suffrage law would be passed on July 1, 1913 – 100 years ago this week.

sheepEdited from July 1913 onwards by Liverpool-born Mary Sheepshanks (right), the periodical was republished by Routledge. In an introduction to that 2003 reissue, Sybil Oldfield wrote that under Sheepshanks’ leadership the periodical

‘covered such controversial and still topical subjects as the age of consent for girls, alcohol control, care of children in need, education for girls, new employment openings for women, trade union rights, divorce law reform, health insurance for mothers, maternity benefits, minimum wages, prostitution, women medical workers, women police, women’s politicians, as well as women’s right to vote and women’s war experience ….’

womens-budapest-program-copyDelegates’ opposition to war was a key issue, at the conference and thereafter. Yet within a year that opposition was voiced within the context of war: July 4, 1914, was the date of burial of an Austrian archduke whose assassination would spark World War I. As noted in an essay available here, the onset of war divided and diverted suffragists. (My earlier comments on Addams and that war are here.) Women in the United States thus would not secure a constitutional amendment guaranteeing them the vote until 1920, 2 years after the war’s end.

(credit for top left 1913 photo of delegates in Budapest and credit for middle right circa-1920s photo Mary Sheepshanks courtesy of N.Y. Public Library; credit for photo below left of 1913 Congress program. Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Teachable Moments, Grotian Moment: May 18 and The Peace Palace Centenary

  international_court_of_justice600Within the field of psychology, a revolutionary paradigm shift known as ‘positive psychology’ is redirecting the attention of researchers to the positive.  Shifting away from the lugubrious ‘DSM IV mindset’ which focuses on disease and illness, the new paradigm turns instead towards inspiring stories of human flourishing.  In the new paradigm, focus on e.g., the connection between addiction and poverty is replaced by a focus on character traits – such as resilience and optimism – that have enabled some to transcend their inauspicious conditions.  The time is ripe for discourse on International Justice (IJ) to experience a similar paradigm shift.

Naturally, discourse on IJ tends to be dominated by stories of atrocity.  IJ is concerned with the development and implementation of mechanisms (criminal prosecutions, truth commissions) aimed at redressing state sponsored horrors.  The hope is that these mechanisms can help to heal the wounds inflicted by such outrageous harms and, ultimately, construct a substantive notion of human dignity that is realized both in state practice and in  ‘the small places close to home’.  It is in this domain that we encounter the meme of ‘Truth and Memory’ (T/M).   In its present mode, IJ tends to interpret T/M through a narrow lens, focusing on the abuses, violations and the public’s understanding of these harms.  T/M initiatives are concerned with deepening the public’s understanding (Memory) by preserving and communicating (Truth) about human rights violations, usually via state-sponsored truth commissions.

As important as it is to note, name and record such violations, it is imperative for IJ to link its concern with Truth and Memory to positive stories of accomplishment and hope.  A rich source of inspiration for IJ is the 19th century peace movement which led to the Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907.  Why?  These conferences marked the first time that the international community and an organized, mobilized public worked together to build an international institution aimed at ending war: The Permanent Court of Arbitration.  This achievement was so extraordinary that Andrew Carnegie, a private U.S. citizen, donated 1.5 million dollars to give, in his words, this ‘High Court of Humanity’ a proper, symbolic home.  Known today as ‘The Peace Palace’, this poignant symbol of optimism and faith in humanity is located at 2 Carnegieplein (Carnegie Place) in The Hague, Netherlands.  Unfortunately, few people know this story.  Consequently, few understand this story about how the U.S. government worked with the private sector and with educators to realize –for a moment- the pacifist vision behind the 1899 Hague Peace Conference.  Nor is it widely known that the 1899 Hague Peace Conference was so momentous to the U.S. that it inspired a state-sponsored program of peace education.  Inspiring stories such as these should be part of our ‘collective memory’ for they, too, have a role to play in fostering true healing and, possibly, the construction of a substantive notion of human dignity that is realized in both state practice and in the small places close to home.

Continue reading

Peace in process

Having urged others to “read and teach and write about” peace in the American Society of International Law speech I gave earlier this month, I’m happy to take note of upcoming events and projects that push the peace agenda:

palac► The Peace Palace is soon to celebrate its 100th birthday, a milestone to be marked by numerous events at The Hague. On August 28, 1913, the Netherlands’ Queen Wilhelmina opened the red brick building that’s now home to the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Court of Justice. Among those who spoke at the ceremony was peace campaigner Jane Addams of Chicago, who’d win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1939 (and, long after, become the heroine of my 2013 ASIL speech). Events surrounding the Peace Palace centenary include:

►► At the Hague City Hall, an Exhibition on Women and Peace, opening August 15 and running through September 21. Among the women to be honored in this exhibit are 1905 Nobel Peace Prizewinner Bertha von Suttner (pictured below, on the right side of the Palace, opposite Hugo Grotius) and IntLawGrrls foremother Aletta Jacobs.

►► Sponsored by the International Criminal Court Student Network, a conference entitled “Peace Through Law: The Development of An Ideal,” August 25 to 27 at the Park Hotel Den Haag. The Network asks younger scholars (“undergraduate and graduate students and early professionals/academics peace(generally within five years of terminal degree) studying or working in the field of international criminal law”) to submit a 400-word abstract proposing a 20-minute talk on a topic “focused on the history and philosophy of the development of international criminal law and its relationship to peace and justice,” for presentation at the conference and eventual publication in the Network’s journal, Issues in International Criminal Justice. Deadline for abstract submission is May 1; details in the call for papers here. (My thanks to Central Michigan Philosophy Professor Hope Elizabeth May, a conference organizer, for the head’s up on this event.)

►► An official commemoration on the morning of August 28, plus the unveiling of a statue of Suttner in the Palace’s main hall. That same afternoon, a 2-day conference entitled “Sustainable Peacebuilding in Conflict-Affected Settings” will be held.

► Later next academic year, participants in the 2d conference on the Creation of International Law, a network of women scholars and practitioners, will discuss the conference theme, “Exploring the International Law Components of Peace.” Organizers include Professor Cecilia Marcela Bailliet, an IntLawGrrl; she convened the 1st conference 4 years ago at her home institution, Oslo Law 075in Norway. (Oslo conferees at right; prior posts on that conference here, here, and here.) This next conference will be held April 4 and 5, 2014, at the University of Wisconsin School of Law in Madison. Cecilia and her co-organizers seek papers, to be published in the Wisconsin International Law Journal, on an array of topics within the overall theme. Deadline for submission of abstracts is October 1, 2013; details in the full call for papers here.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)