Feminist strategy in International Law: a conceptual and empirical framework

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Event details


Date & time

Tuesday 16 June 2015


Seminar Room 1.04, Coombs Extension Building (8), Fellows Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Catherine O'Rourke


Emma Larking
+61 2 6125 1513

Feminist scholarship in international law is a developed and dynamic body of scholarship, keeping apace with new departures in international law, while continuing to scrutinize the oldest and foundational aspects of the canon.

Indeed, feminist scholarship in international law has become so diverse now that it may no longer be possible to speak convincingly of it as an identifiable unit. But from this body of scholarship, is it possible to speak of a feminist strategy in international law?

The paper discusses key faultlines between feminist scholars who principally engage international law

  1. as a doctrine that carries legal force (‘feminist formalists’),

  2. as norms that set standards of behaviour, and

  3. as the site and outcome of power politics, that provides an organizational platform for feminists and others.

Moreover, the paper draws on existing feminist scholarship to distinguish between motivations for feminist advocacy at local/domestic level, at the transnational level and at the ‘insider’ level, within the institutions of international law.

The paper concludes by discussing planned empirical work, under the DFID-funded Political Settlements Research Programme, to further investigate these dynamics.

About the speaker:

Dr Catherine O’Rourke is Senior Lecturer in Human Rights and International Law and Gender Research Coordinator at the Transitional Justice Institute (TJI), Ulster University. She is a visitor to the Centre for International Governance and Justice, RegNet, between 8-19 June, 2015.

She researches broadly in the areas of gender, international law, human rights and transitional justice. Her monograph, Gender Politics in Transitional Justice (Routledge, 2013) examines women’s movement engagement with, and gendered outcomes of, transitional justice processes in Chile, Colombia and Northern Ireland. The underpinning doctoral work was awarded the Basil Chubb Prize (2010) for the best PhD in any field of politics from an Irish university.

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