Audre Rapoport Prize

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Now showing 1 - 8 of 8
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    Unofficial Accountability: A Proposal for the Permanent Women's Tribunal on Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict
    (The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, 2005) Terrell, Fleming
    The ongoing sexual violation of women during recent conflicts stands in sharp contrast to increasing recognition that rape, sexual slavery, and other forms of sexual violence in armed conflict violate international law. This paper argues that State-based fora cannot adequately hold individual perpetrators and State sponsors of such violence accountable. Accordingly, it posits that “unofficial” mechanisms---created by private individuals without authorization from any State---be considered as means to eliminate impunity for sexual violence committed during armed conflict. To that end, it evaluates the “people’s tribunal” format, in which proceedings similar to a judicial trial are organized and carried out by private individuals. The paper traces the historical development of people’s tribunals, focusing on their use by the international women’s movement. A close analysis of the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery during WWII illustrates the potential effectiveness of the format for addressing sexual violence against women during armed conflict. Based on this example, the paper argues that a people’s tribunal could serve not simply as a last resort for victims denied justice in other fora, but rather as a lasting compliment to established international legal institutions. Accordingly, the paper concludes by proposing the creation of a Permanent Women’s Tribunal for Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict and describing the attributes that would best enable the Tribunal to serve as a legitimate source of justice for victims, while also having a progressive influence on State-based legal institutions and society as a whole.
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    Orphans' or Veterans? Justice for Children Born of War in East Timor
    (The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, 2006) Harris Rimmer, Susan
    All over East Timor, one can find “orphans” whose parents still live, and “wives” who have never been married. These labels mask an open secret in Timorese society—hundreds of babies were born of rape during the Indonesian occupation from 1974 to 1999. In juxtaposition, as a result of the 2004 UNFPA-conducted census, there is finally data available on the current population of East Timor and it has unexpectedly revealed a baby boom, perhaps in response to the emotional losses of the occupation. The fertility rate was found to be the highest in the world, at 8.3 babies per woman.1 The baby as the symbol of both wound and healing is clearly at play in Timor at the present time. Nonetheless, there is official silence on the number and treatment of the children born of conflict, a lack of attention in the transitional justice mechanisms in place in Timor in regard to the human rights violations that produced their situation, and no official policies to deal with the needs of these children or their mothers, or the discrimination they may face. The challenge posed by these children and women to the social fabric of Timor reveals important gaps and silences within the international human rights law framework which might nonetheless be addressed by some fairly straightforward policy innovations. In this paper, I argue that status of the mothers socially and legally, as it impacts on the well-being and ability of the children to claim their rights, needs to be more fully addressed in transitional justice debates. Within Timor, there is a definite ambivalence about the idea of these women as contributors to independence during the occupation, and discomfiture regarding their status as so-called “wives” of Indonesian military. This cultural construction is both exacerbated and challenged by the ambivalent influence of Catholic teachings on East Timorese society. Nonetheless, social currents also exist that, if strategically used to reconstruct the image of these children and women, could more effectively reframe their trauma in transitional justice discourse, and contribute both to their well-being and the long-term process of reconciliation in East Timor. The paper proceeds in two sections. First, I first provide an overview of the situation of sexual violence survivors and their children in East Timor. In the second section I discuss current approaches to the children and their mothers within the transitional justice mechanisms available in East Timor at this time. I aim to shift the current approach to children born of war in Timor from covert welfare assistance by the Catholic Church and NGOs, to a rights-based framework, where the affected children are publicly accepted with valid claims on the Government, rather than seen as by-products of a crime or sin. From this analysis it becomes clear that creative policy and legal options are required that would assist these families with integration, status and financial security. I conclude with one such proposal to improve the situation of these families: re-characterise the affected women and their children as “veterans” of the conflict, with the same status as the former Falintil guerrillas.
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    The Path to Gender Justice in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
    (The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, 2007) Palacios Zuloaga, Patricia
    In an individual opinion annexed to a December 2006 decision, the President of the InterAmerican Court of Human Rights stated that the case in hand was the first one to ever present the Court with women’s human rights issues1 . The current paper argues that this is not an accurate representation of Inter-American case law. While acknowledging that the number of gender relevant cases examined by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR or “the Court”) is very low in comparison with other international human rights bodies, the paper shows that there have been several cases presented to the Court where the human rights of women have been an issue and where the Court has failed to address those rights adequately (or even at all). Both the numerical lack of gender relevant cases before the Court and the unfortunate handling of most of those cases that it did consider are explained herein through an analysis of the male dominated nature of law in general and international law in particular as well as an analysis of how domestic and international judicial systems respond to women’s concerns. The lack of gender sensitive actors in these systems is a key factor in the phenomenon. Recent developments in the case law of the Court that show a newfound sensitivity to women’s rights issues can shed light on the factors that have triggered this turnaround. Although these new cases signal a positive shift toward gender justice, there continue to be serious deficiencies in the Court’s reasoning, particularly in its failure to extend gendered logic to reparations and its reliance on stereotypes of women in order to find violations. Additionally, it appears that the Court has attempted to make up for years of ignoring women’s rights by capitalizing on the trend of specialized treaties and taking the controversial decision to render the Belém do Pará Convention justiciable. While the president of the Court vigorously defends this move, there are strong reasons to doubt its appropriateness and it has yet to be seen if the lasting effect will be positive or negative for women. The paper then turns to the future cases that are making their way towards the Court and attempts to gauge how the new precedents will affect them. Finally, the paper suggests strategies to continue to enhance the sensitivity of the Court to gender issues in order to improve the treatment of women in the Inter-American Human Rights System and consequently in the region in general.
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    Violence against Women as Sex Discrimination: Evaluating the Policy and Practice of the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies
    (The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, 2008) Edwards, Alice
    Violence against women is one of the greatest threats to women‟s equality and equal enjoyment of human rights. Yet, there is no single treaty provision explicitly prohibiting violence against women within any of the eight „core‟ international human rights treaties, nor a binding international treaty specifically on the issue. In the work of the UN human rights treaty bodies, one of their approaches to recognising violence against women has been to subsume it within the guarantees to equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex. This article examines the meanings given to these concepts and inquires into whether this approach to what is an obvious gender gap in the international human rights framework is effective.
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    Verbal Abuse: Anti-Trafficking Rhetoric and Violence Against Women
    (The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, 2009) Gaber, Sherief
    There is a significant debate in contemporary feminist political thought and amongst activist organizations regarding the “trafficking of women” and the questions and problems attendant to this phenomenon. Furthermore, the work of many feminist groups now concerned with and often party to the exercise of state and international regulatory power has drawn a great deal of attention to trafficking within the United Nations, individual nation-states (particularly the United States) and a slew of increasingly powerful NGOs. These different organizations all operate at a similar structural and prescriptive level, using legal and normative models to enact protocols and legislation specifically naming, defining and acting on human trafficking. Regardless of the apparent fervor and media attention given to trafficking in recent years, the problem is still widespread, and there is significant criticism of existing trafficking models, both for their failure to achieve even stated goals, and for the way their definitions of trafficking – particularly sex trafficking – affect women.
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    Enhancing Women’s Rights and Capabilities: An Intersectional Approach to Gender-Based Violence Prevention
    (The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, 2011-01) Corser, Maggie
    Drawing on post-colonial feminist theory, this thesis provides a critical assessment of United Nations (UN) gender-based violence theory and practice. Chapter One provides epistemic critiques of UN agencies’ current theoretical framework, paying particular attention to the concepts of gender, power, and culture. In order to help redress the problems identified in Chapter One, I argue in Chapter Two that we must look to the feminist theory of intersectionality. With its nuanced conceptions of oppression and privilege, intersectionality provides analytic depth to discussions of gender, power, and culture, which I argue can improve the practical effectiveness of gender-based violence prevention efforts. Chapter Three outlines the UN’s shortcomings in practice and illustrates how intersectionality can help remedy the problems identified. Drawing on the case of refugee camps in Ngara and Kibondo Tanzania, I highlight how specific programs and policies informed by the UN’s framework prove inadequate in both decreasing rates of violence and providing services to survivors. Finally, I discuss future implications of an intersectional approach to gender-based violence prevention and how it makes an invaluable contribution to established UN practice.
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    Thinking Past Rights: Towards Feminist Theories of Reparations
    (The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, 2011-05) Painter, Genevieve Renard
    The notion of reparations encompasses debates about the relationship between individual and society, the nature of political community, the meaning of justice, and the impact of rights in social change. In international law, the dominant approach to reparations is based on individual rights. This normative framework is out of step with the understanding of reparations that circulates among many women activists. This paper develops a theoretical approach to justice and reparations that helps to explain the gap between the international normative framework and activist discourses. Based on distributive, communitarian, and critical theories of justice, I argue that reparations can be thought of as rights, symbols, or processes. Approaching reparations as either rights or symbols is rife with problems when approached from an activist and feminist theoretical standpoint. As decisions about reparations programs are and should be determined by the political, social, economic, and cultural context, a blueprint for ‘a feminist reparations program’ is impractical and ill-advised. However, the strongest feminist approach to reparations would depart from an understanding of reparations as a process.
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    Translating Rights into Agency: Advocacy, Aid and the Domestic Workers Convention
    (The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, 2013-01) Yuan, Kali
    In June 2011, the International Labor Conference adopted the Domestic Workers Convention (the Convention), the first international labor standard to set out legal obligations that specifically protect and improve the working lives of domestic workers. This paper argues that previous regulatory attempts to protect domestic workers have been inadequate and, although it is an improvement, the Convention is currently also an insufficient legal instrument. However, although the Convention is not yet in force, educational and advocacy work on this legal instrument are already underway. For example, in September 2011, I volunteered as an advocacy officer with the recently-established Working Women’s Centre Timor Leste on its first project, providing education, support and advocacy based on the rights expressed in the Convention to domestic workers in Dili and four other rural Districts. My experiences while working with this project suggested that a convention, as a legal instrument, can still have significant impact at a grassroots level without reliance on its legal mechanisms. This paper argues that the Convention may still be effective in improving the lives of domestic workers, by changing norms at the grassroots level. Crucially, the degree of effectiveness will depend on how successfully the Convention’s norms can be translated into local contexts. But there are tensions within the process of translation: between remaking rights resonantly and faithfully; between affecting local consciousness and retaining the essence of the Convention’s rights. How then to successfully harness the normative power of the Convention? This paper considers Community Conversations – a radical, participatory approach where domestic workers themselves drive the translation process – as one method of negotiating the tension inherent in translation. Such an approach may effectively engender the key Convention rights of solidarity and collective industrial agency. Through this approach, the normative power of the Convention’s legal obligations may successfully affect the protection of labor rights at the grassroots level.