Talking with women about community healing in Uganda and Sierra Leone

Dear Friends,

I last blogged with IntLawGrrls in 2012 about my book on transitional justice in Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Burundi (Humanitarian Law in Action within Africa, OUP 2012).  I am now researching a second book that builds upon a vision of transformational justice with retributive, reconciliative, and redistributive strands, focusing on the perspectives of non-elite women engaged in grassroots peacebuilding work.  I ask women what these concepts of justice mean to them, and whether they relate to their daily lives and involvement in community development activities.

In March I conducted focus group interviews in Sierra Leone, meeting with women in Moyamba and Koinadugu Districts.  In two days I will fly to Kampala to start the Uganda phase of my research, entailing interviews with women civil war survivors in Gulu and Kitgum Districts of Northern Uganda.  I wished to reach out to our network of women active in international law as I prepare to interact with networks of women in another region. I am grateful for the solidarity between women and men in so many places, whether elite or non-elite, whether we work in academia or in various conceptions of “the trenches,” whether we are friends, family, colleagues, or still strangers.  Reflecting on the Brexit outcome in the UK on June 24; Trumpism as we in the US proceed towards November; and recent decisions on abortion, immigration and affirmative action by our Supreme Court –   the strands of life are indeed starting to feel inter-connected.

My sister and her Irish husband, who live in London, recently shared a June 24 blog entitled “Thoughts on the “Sociology of Brexit” by Will Davies.  The piece resonated with me on several levels, including the connections between Brexit in the UK, on one side, to presidential politics in the US, on another, and finally with women’s community engagement on the African continent.  Davies writes about the long-term impact of Thatcherism in the UK, and what he sees as the interplay between global neoliberal economic forces and post-1970s welfare polices of Labour government.  He talks about the surprise of Labour politicians and others at the lack of political loyalty on the part of working people towards the political elites who “gave the handouts.”

Davies identifies a problem in the heartland that has something to do with a yearning for “the dignity of being self-sufficient, not necessarily in a neoliberal sense, but certainly in a communal, familial and fraternal sense.” That idea of community self-sufficiency resonates with what my early research in Sierra Leone has already revealed.  I have a growing sense that at least some rural women in post-conflict societies in Africa are empowered when they are organized and self-sufficient on a subsistence level, as much as when there are “pro-women” policies and political rhetoric at the national level.  There is much to learn and to share on both sides of the Atlantic and across our various continents.  I will hope to continue the conversation with as my research and your own projects continue.

 

28 June 2016

Jennifer Moore

Professor of Law

University of New Mexico School of Law

Albuquerque, NM

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On the Job! Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone Legal Officer (P-3), The Hague (deadline 17 May)

The vacancy for a RSCSL P-3 Legal Officer in The Hague has been recirculated. The deadline is now 17 May 2015.

ORGANISATIONAL SETTING

The Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone (RSCSL) is the successor Institution to the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) with the responsibility for discharging the judicial, legal and administrative obligations that remain after the closure of the SCSL.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

Under the direct supervision of the Registrar, and within limits of delegated authority, the Legal Officer will carry out the following functions:

  • Provide legal advice on matters relating to the exercise of the functions of the Registrar including (a) matters relating to suspects, accused and convicted persons; (b) matters relating to RSCSL proceedings (c) matters relating to witnesses and victims; (d) matters relating to host countries, other governments, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations; (e) matters relating to the press and public and (f) matters relating to agreements and contracts to which the Residual Special Court is a party.
  • Provide assistance with negotiations and drafting of bilateral agreements between the Residual Special Court and other entities.
  • Provide assistance with drafting and reviewing of amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Rules of Detention, Practice Directions and other legal instruments applicable to the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone.
  • Draft written submissions and assist with the preparation of oral submissions before the RSCSL on matters relating to the Registrar’s functions.
  • Conduct research and draft legal and other correspondence and memoranda.
  • Monitor motions submitted by the parties, and decisions, orders and judgments rendered by the RSCSL

    in judicial or other proceedings before the Court.

  • Perform other duties as assigned by the Registrar.

    The post is located in The Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone. Staff members of The Residual Court will not serve as staff members of the United Nations. External appointments are limited to the Residual Special Court only. In accordance with Article 25 of the Statute of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone the working language will be English.

    1. Both internal and external applicants are requested to send a detailed curriculum vitae including date of birth, nationality, educational qualifications, a summary of professional skills and/or expertise, a summary of relevant work experience, publications written and languages spoken, and to complete a Residual Special Court Personal History Form available upon request from stanleyj@un.org (please type “Request for Personal History Form” in the subject heading).

    2. All Applications should be sent by mail to: Office Manager, Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone Churchillplein 1, 2517 JW, The Hague Or by Email to: stanleyj@un.org

    3. Acknowledgement will be made only to shortlisted candidates

    For more information, please see http://www.rscsl.org/Vacancies/RSCSL-2015-002.pdf.

Sex and International Tribunals: The Erasure of Gender from the War Narrative

sex and intl tribunalsThe gendered dimensions of violence are evident in the case law of both the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Sierra Leone Special Court and in the final report of the Sierra Leone Truth Commission. Crimes such as sexual slavery as a crime against humanity, and rape as a form of genocide are adjudicated upon. My book Sex and International Tribunals does not claim otherwise. Rather, it asks the reader to interrogate the process of international justice for its prejudices and patriarchal culture which lead to an essentialized yet increasingly iconic image of the (brown) woman as a raped woman. The book also posits that sustaining this iconic image necessarily conjures up the menacing specter of a militarized African masculinity.

Writers like Dubravka Zarkov, Alcinda Honwana, Christopher Taylor, Mats Utas and Carolyn Nordstorm have made significant contributions to our understanding of gender and its impact on the nature of political violence in Africa and beyond. Sex and International Tribunals argues that in comparison, legal scholars are wont to deny any gendered complexity in the war narrative. The term ‘gender justice’ has come to signify the fiction that (i) gender and feminist theories have been mainstreamed into the legal construction of war crimes and (ii) women victims have been ‘given a voice’ by the tribunals.

Sex and International Tribunals critiques reductionism by addressing the outcomes for women, when they are excluded, as well as included, into the war narrative: Thus, when  a woman testifies in court she is required to present a narrative of violence that is sex-based and not gender-based. For example, the girl soldier is rarely called as a witness in the prosecution of the war crime of child conscription. Boy victim-witnesses are regarded by prosecutors as the genuine child soldiers, whilst girls were merely concubines, camp followers, rebel wives, prostitutes, sex slaves, bush brides, etc. The girl soldier testifies chiefly about conjugal or coital harms, i.e. sex-based narrative. How many men raped her and in what sexual positions? This limited scope of her testimony cannot expand the gender analysis of child enlistment and conscription. It only elaborates on the expanding category of the sexual depravities of armed combatants.

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Sex in Peace Operations

sex in peace opsShould all sex between international personnel and local people in peace operations be prohibited? Why are peacekeepers rarely prosecuted for crimes such as rape? Should humanitarian workers be allowed to pay for sex? Should local laws or international standards determine the age of consent to sex between local people and international personnel in peace operations? My book, Sex in Peace Operations, examines the regulation of sex between international personnel and local people in United Nations peace operations through case studies of Bosnia, West Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Over the past two decades there has been a series of scandals implicating UN peacekeepers, humanitarian workers and private military contractors in sexual exploitation and abuse of local people. Perhaps the best known of these are the cases of Cambodia and Somalia in the early 1990s, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2002 and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2004.  More recently the film The Whistleblower has publicised trafficking in women by private military contractors employed by DynCorp and seconded to the UN as international police monitors and trainers in post-war Bosnia.  Although less widely reported, there are also non-exploitative sexual relations between peacekeepers and local people.

The response to sex in peace operations has shifted over the last twenty years from an attitude that ‘boys will be boys’ to a ‘zero tolerance’ policy.  The zero tolerance policy, which appears to have been developed as a substitute for an effective legal framework, is itself highly problematic.  My book argues that the regulatory focus should be on preventing, and ending impunity for, sexual crimes committed by international personnel against local people, rather than trying to prevent nearly all sex between international personnel and local people, as the zero tolerance policy claims to do.  It suggests more responsive approaches to sex in peace operations that aim to promote the sexual autonomy of local people, particularly women and girls.