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Feminist Dialogues on International LawSuccess, Tensions, Futures$

Gina Heathcote

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780199685103

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199685103.001.0001

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(p.133) 5 Institutions
Feminist Dialogues on International Law

Gina Heathcote

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter builds on the analysis of expertise and fragmentation that illuminates the risks for feminist engagements with global governance and law, to consider further strategies of reconstruction (and disruption) within the structures of the global order. In paying attention to international institutions, as non-state actors wielding legal power of sorts within global governance, this chapter takes dialogues from contemporary feminist approaches—the configuring of maternal subjectivity as interruption and feminist approaches to political economy—as initiating plural dialogues on international institutions from a feminist perspective. The chapter provides an analysis of the Human Rights Council, the World Health Organisation, and the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as an account of gender mainstreaming.

Keywords:   politics of interruption, Human Rights Council, World Health Organisation, intrapartum care, Peacebuilding Commission

[W]e all have a deep stake in the operation of norms and the power relations of normalization, and … to understand these, we need to understand how disability plays into this, especially through the intertwined dynamics of culture and law.1

Communities based on queer kinship ties offer us hope that human solidarities and loyalties can break free of the bonds of the nation-state and extend to include others, particularly those most disadvantaged by the brutal heteronormative order that states impose.2

1. Introduction

In recognising feminist approaches to law as encompassing a series of feminisms, and thus dialogues, this chapter considers how different and differing dialogues might be incorporated via a feminist epistemology of plural and split subjects that draws in the critiques of crip and queer theories alongside a diversity of feminist methodologies. The chapter builds on the analysis of expertise and fragmentation that illuminates the risks for feminist engagements with global governance and law, to consider further strategies of reconstruction (and disruption) within the structures of the global order. I pay particular attention to international institutions, as non-state actors wielding legal power of sorts within global governance. While the previous chapter centred on state sovereignty and examined the potentialities of conceptualising a split subject, in this chapter I take dialogues from contemporary feminist approaches—the configuring of maternal subjectivity as interruption and feminist approaches to political economy—as initiating plural dialogues on international institutions from a feminist perspective. My objective is to prioritise specific tensions within feminist dialogues (essentialism, imperialism, materiality) as leaping off points that can be used as productive tools for the analysis and transformation of international law. In doing so this chapter approaches international institutions, and their role as non-state actors within the global order, via feminist dialogues without presupposing or asserting the existence of a single feminist approach to international (p.134) law. Along the way, and through drawing on the maternal subject as inspiring a politics of interruption, the chapter plays with the idea of interruption through the interventions of crip and queer theories that are interjected into the chapter.

In acknowledging that co-optation of some feminist ideas within international institutions illuminates the dangers of endorsing and legitimating institutions, I argue that examining how international institutions are gendered at a foundational level is necessary. At the same time, in recognising the potential impossibility of projects of gender law reform, I use queer and crip scholarship to disrupt any feminist sense of knowing. This allows me to approach the epistemological concerns of the book as open to the unsettling knowledge of thinking about thinking differently.3 Nevertheless I also develop the feminist inquiry into the lawmaking capacity of institutions and analyse the trajectories future feminist dialogues might take within institutional structures. I rely on feminist articulations of the maternal,4 feminist politics of location,5 and political economy approaches6 to build on the examination of legal subjectivity as plural, as split and grounded in diverse relationality, as articulated across the book. I explore how relationality is felt and lived differently in the material lives of specific bodies and communities and how recognition of temporal, as well as classed, situated, and sexualised, Othering disrupts relationality, subject formation, and recognition. As such, this chapter provides an argument in favour of dialogues and spaces via feminist engagements within international law that are not only attentive to the biases of the international legal system but that also engage openly with the colonial genealogies of international law, the embedded heteronormativity of law, and the gendered normalising of bodies through analysing what it means to reconfigure the dialogues on feminist knowledge, action, and engagements within international law.

In legal scholarship only limited feminist engagement with international institutions is apparent, although the adjunct field of international relations has seen the emergence of feminist institutionalism as a field of study.7 In addition, important critical legal accounts of international institutions do not address either the gendered structures or the gender outputs of international institutions.8 International legal writing on soft law and non-state actors has links to feminist writings and does include specifically feminist interventions; however, this has not produced a significant corpus of feminist engagements with international institutions.9 As noted (p.135) throughout this book, feminist legal texts and feminist strategies within the United Nations tend to examine specific institutions, such as the Security Council10 or the International Criminal Court,11 and the outputs of these institutions, such as the resolutions on women, peace, and security or the jurisprudence on gender crimes, as opposed to working to develop feminist methodologies.12 In contrast, I develop this chapter through consideration of the powers, authority, and structures of international institutions, as well as opening feminist dialogues to the discussion of power, authority, and structures reproduced by gender law reform.

I provide a gender analysis of the constitutive powers and structures of three international institutions, selecting organisations with different structures and remits to capture the different settings of international institutions and to think about what a feminist dialogue on the tools and formations of those institutions might lead towards. In examining the structures and the constitutive powers of international institutions, I draw on Charlesworth and Chinkin’s articulation of feminist approaches within international law as requiring attention to the organisational and the normative.13 However, to move beyond a critique of existing gendered arrangements within international institutions, I look outside feminist legal theories to the wider fields of gender, queer, and crip theories to articulate new feminist epistemologies on international law.14 Throughout this chapter I draw on non-legal feminist scholarship that is specifically concerned with the parameters of knowledge production, the politics of location, and the political economy of gender, to examine the potentialities of international institutions, while drawing these into dialogue with queer and crip theories.

The chapter continues the kaleidoscope approach of the book, rather than preferring or embracing a single approach, to evidence conversations, starting points, tensions, and, indeed, dialogues on international law that emerge from attention to varied spaces of feminist theorising. I do appreciate that tensions in feminist dialogues are not always pleasant/welcoming and the notion of dialogue can be fraught for feminists who find their voice absent in mainstream feminist spaces and histories, including feminists of colour, crip, trans-, and queer feminists.15 Disengagement might be preferred over dialogue by those who enter feminist spaces with histories different from mainstream voices: this is something that has received insufficient response from feminists working on international law as scholars, policymakers, and experts. I argue this is a dialogue and a tension that needs to be surfaced for any (p.136) future gender law reforms to develop as feminist methodologies rather than just taking up feminist messages.

This chapter also considers the centrality of listening—in particular, the need for listening by feminists who might otherwise be expecting to claim a space a speak. In the words of Otto: ‘the politics of listening challenges us all to take responsibility for justice based on our interconnectedness as people and our shared political and legal institutions’.16 In this chapter I have tried to hold the politics of listening (over speaking) as a key to thinking about which feminist knowledge is introduced into international institutions. In the process I consider how a feminist understanding of tensions—between activism and academic spaces, between theory and practice, between core and peripheral subjects, between different modes of feminist thinking, as well as in addressing essentialism, imperialism, and materiality—might be used to undo the manner in which the global order, and its institutions, rebuild their own power beyond the limited and curtailed approach to knowledge and location that is often (also) embedded within traditional, critical, and mainstream approaches to international law (including gender law reform). Gill writes of a process of learning to ‘speak with’ as a postcolonial feminist technique. Written in the context of qualitative research, Gill finds ‘the ethics of speaking with participants requires sensitivity, reflexive and reflective examination, relationship building, and ethical accountability between researchers and their research participants’.17 In the context of qualitative research this has significance; my approach has been to consider, drawing on both Gill and Otto, how to ‘speak with’ and ‘listen’ in a manner that actively transforms the text without disrupting the capacity to contribute to the existing body of literature and field of research. As with the prior chapter, this chapter therefore unfolds with its own interruptions and spaces of self-reflection to actively undo the privileging of certain knowledge histories alongside a consciousness of which authors are quoted and represented in the text.

In particular, I both engage crip theory and attend to some of the critiques from disability theorists of crip theory. Crip theories are generally regarded as originating in the work of McRuer who developed a study of the convergences of queer and disabilities studies to question and voice approaches to the non-normative. McRuer argues for a crip theory that is a subset of queer theories and that forms ‘an identity politics that resists the normative construct of able-bodiedness’18 —drawing disability studies and queer theories into dialogue, or ‘inviting conversation, searching out community, and wondering aloud what the word could do or mean’.19 Crip theory has also received rigorous critique from disability studies and (p.137) critical disability studies scholars who describe the approach as limited in that it ‘authorizes anyone to speak on behalf of the disabled rather than prioritizing actual disabled voices’.20 For Bone the consequence is that crip theory ‘fashions a theoretical glass closet in which the disabled community is kept on display rather than being allowed to speak for themselves’.21 The debates that unfold thus look at issues of personhood, normativity, identity, and speaking for/with through a dialogue that interlocks with many of the concerns of this book. Following my methodology of using tensions to underline and engage important and persistent dilemmas, crip theories, disability studies, and queer theories—in conversation—add to the dialogue on institutions. This is not only a series of correctives with respect to how the body and its experiences of the world are insufficiently engaged with by feminist approaches to international law, this is a dialogue that demands listening, particularly in the spaces of tension, to provoke new kinds of reflections on the limits and possibilities of both gender law reform and feminist approaches. Thus, while for McRuer, crip ‘functions as a moniker that can be used to indicate a coalitional identity that resists normative constructions of personhood’,22 from a disabilities studies perspective this resistance functions to silence the everyday struggles and encounters, let alone normative contributions, of those living with disability. I am interested in how this at once alerts feminist theories to the failures in terms of engaging queer, disabled, and queer, disabled lives into dialogue, and how this debate mirrors tensions between activist and academic accounts on gender law reform. Likewise, the feminist dialogues presented in this chapter that challenge imperialism, essentialism, and re-engage materialism both mirror some of the tensions and might be further articulated through the approach of both crip and disability studies. The chapter thus imagines ways to move beyond dialogue as methodology, to ask who speaks, how space for speaking within a dialogue is conceived, and what prior acts might be necessary to foreground feminist dialogues.

To elaborate the feminist dialogues identified, the chapter provides an analysis of the Human Rights Council, the World Health Organisation, and the Peacebuilding Commission. The choice of institutions was driven by a desire to reflect different types of international institutions: a large subsidiary organ, the Human Rights Council (HRC); a specialised agency, the World Health Organisation (WHO); and a smaller, intergovernmental advisory body, the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC).23 The subject matter across the three institutions is notably diverse and the lifespan of each institution varied. The Human Rights Council is the newest entity amongst the three, dating from 2007, and has a broad mandate with respect to the review of state compliance with international human rights law.24 The WHO was (p.138) created in 1948 and centres its work on directing global health initiatives.25 The PBC dates from 2005 when it was created via Security Council resolution 1645 and General Assembly Resolution A/RES/60/180.26 The PBC brings together a range of actors to advise and propose strategies in relation to UN peacebuilding while supporting peace efforts for states emerging from conflict.27 The diversity of form and function across the three institutions discussed in this chapter allows me to draw out some persistent patterns within international legal structures that would benefit from future feminist dialogues on their adaptation towards transformation.

Queer analysis of international law demonstrates similar interrogation of the feminist tension between approaching international institutions and the power of the institutions to co-opt and remake those approaches through the language and structures of the institutions. For Kapur,

queer engagement with human rights has taken the radicality out of queer rather than resulting in the queering of human rights. While there are undoubtedly temporal moments when the radicalism of the project emerges, these are quickly quenched by the lure of normativity and glitter of respectability.28

Drawing queer approaches, such as Kapur’s, into dialogue with feminist approaches to institutions, I argue, requires attention to the diverse feminist accounts that might engage the various structures of international institutions. Within the various dialogues that feminist accounts on international law have already commenced, writing from disability studies theorists or engagement with crip theories has been almost invisible.29 In the context of the jurisprudence, on gender and disability, from the CEDAW Committee, Campbell writes of the very different methodology intersectionality draws into legal work:

Under CEDAW, if sex and gender is one of the bases for the discrimination, it is necessary to examine how other identity and factors contribute to the discrimination. This transcends the discontinuities between intersectionality theory and practice. It moves intersectionality beyond a ground-based approach and approaches multiple identities from a fluid, expansive and integrated perspective.30

Campbell’s reflections on methodologies within the realm of international expertise not only dovetail with many of the ideas expressed across this text, they also illuminate the ongoing attentiveness to both method and messages within feminist knowledge production that opens dialogue to queer, crip, and disability studies.

(p.139) A feminist epistemology that commences from the knowledge of plural subjectivities, that starts from the premise that bodies and projects are different, have different world views and needs, and yet equal capacity to contribute to dialogue, must open to the challenge of hearing the contributions of crip and disability theories, to recognise that ‘ “compulsory” heteronormativity and able-bodiedness merge at sites of domination such as the family, the school and the workplace’.31 To this, law might be added to further develop feminist dialogue on the articulation of gendered bodies as a mechanism for normalising subjects. I am determined not to let the difficulty I encounter in drawing existing scholarship from crip and disability studies onto the page as a mechanism for silencing; or a reason to rely on a footnote as merely a wave to those who are Othered in gender law reform. Nevertheless, the arrival of crip, disability, and queer writing in a text on feminist dialogues on international law is an interruption in and of itself, requiring a concerted effort to make space, listen, and stay with the troubles.32

I begin the following section with a short introduction to the legal organisation and powers of international institutions alongside a short review of key feminist and critical accounts of the potential and the limitations of international institutions, including recent feminist international relations scholarship on feminist institutionalism. I conclude the section with an analysis of gender mainstreaming, given the central place this has held as a mechanism for gender law reform across diverse international institutions. Drawing on the work of Clisby and Enderstein, I note the universalisms and blunt features of gender mainstreaming as a cross-institutional tool, ultimately arguing rigorous feminist engagement with core institutional structures is required ‘to shift from tokenistic inclusivity of gendered discourse at the policy level to genuine “engendering” ’ of development processes.33 Throughout, I work to intersperse these descriptions with contributions from critical disability studies, queer and crip theories—mostly to interrupt but also to highlight the need for these additional dialogues to be heard within feminist approaches to international law.

In section 3 I analyse the HRC describing its powers and remit before deploying an analysis of the practical and normative exclusions/inclusions that the HRC operates through. I argue for a politics of interruption to transform approaches to representation from being centred on women to shift towards embracing a feminist methodology. I follow this with analysis of the WHO and the production of soft laws, in particular with regard to the right to maternal health, highlighting the diversity of feminist approaches and their potentialities as a dialogue of relevance to international law and institutions. I argue that the entrenched essentialism of approaches to women’s health requires new feminist methodologies that are attentive (p.140) to plural subjectivities. The section concludes with an examination of the PBC, centring on how the mandate for the PBC was established and the contours of its work since its inception. In some ways the PBC is an interruption to the manner in which international institutions are configured, functioning as a hybrid creation of the UN General Assembly and UN Security Council. I examine the different feminist critiques of the PBC and ask what it means to hold the tension between some of these accounts, rather than attempting to resolve or write out the tensions within feminist dialogues. At the same time, given the imperialist and essentialist co-optation of feminist messages within global governance, I argue for a queer-crip-feminist methodology, built on recognition of plural subjectivities and dialogue, as a method to approach security through the lives of those whose bodies feel least able to move freely through public spaces. Through analysing the contours of these three institutions, the final section of the chapter demonstrates the productive space of feminist tensions and the necessity of feminist difference to develop dialogues that are able to reimagine and critique international institutions, and by extension the international order, in new and thoughtful feminist ways.

2. Approaching Institutions

This section provides a short introduction to key debates with respect to the nature and role of international institutions within international law. Mainstream approaches to international institutions tend to centre on three enquiries: the source of the institution’s authority, the scope of the powers of the institution, including both soft and hard law capacities, and the structure and membership of the institution, including the role of states and non-state actors.34 I review each of these aspects in this section of the chapter and also introduce gender mainstreaming as a key institutional initiative, established after the Beijing conference on women. In observing the limits of the gender mainstreaming project, I examine the legacy of state consent as defining the very possibility of legal subjectivity for non-state actors.35 Returning to the descriptions of split and plural subjects from prior chapters, I argue that the emergent and dynamic quality of the legal personality of institutions under international law further emphasises the need for a configuration of legal subjectivity beyond masculine forms, of autonomous, bounded actors.36 The chapter thus approaches institutions in the terms expected by mainstream approaches to international law whilst ultimately working to disrupt this same set of knowledge.

My understanding of international institutions is influenced by Klabbers’s description of international organisations as producing a ‘tension between formality and informality’ driven by the nature of international institutions as not-states and (p.141) yet of central importance in the continuation and existence of global governance.37 Klabbers’s approach is also an inquiry into the limits of functionalism, so that he is able to recognise the technical aspects of the work of international institutions (requiring an acceptance of functionalism) alongside the political drivers that continue to influence and produce the outcomes, structures, and scope of international organisations.38 Through the law on international organisations, I present an understanding of existing critical inquiry in this area of international law, which I argue is relevant to feminist dialogues on international law.39 As such, the chapter, while consciously bringing expanded feminist dialogues to international organisations law, also considers the potential for dialogues between critical legal and critical feminist engagements within law.

Klabbers places functionalism as a better description of the nature of international organisations, over formalist or instrumentalist accounts.40 While formalist projects inevitably return to the powers of states to explain the powers (and limits) of international organisations, instrumentalist accounts retain an implicit normative role for international law, beyond the political agendas of states, that can be achieved through the use and workings of international organisations. The tensions between formalist and instrumentalist tendencies of the international legal order help explain the apertures where gender law reform have been received: given the soft law outputs of international organisations under a formalist account gender law reform rarely creates binding obligations for states, while the specific feminist agendas contained by gender law reform are usually amenable to recognising values of the system, in particular human rights, democracy, and justice without any thick or complex description or challenge to their meaning. A functionalist account, as offered by Klabbers, avoids the need to align with either formalist or instrumentalist approaches, through recognising that these might be part of the problem, focusing instead on both recognising and separating political—or normative—drivers within international law to engage the working practices of international structures, including organisations.41

Feminist approaches to law have thus far insufficiently theorised sustained dialogues in response to tensions between instrumentalism and formalism.42 My own preference is to follow Klabbers’s functionalism, which opens a dialogue on instrumentalism and formalism as well as leaving an openness to understanding the political drivers behind global governance while retaining space for an epistemology (p.142) of difference; plural and split subjects; as functioning to challenge the underlying political configurations of global governance. That is, recalling Otomo’s challenge to write outside of the masculine history of international law, functionalism looks to what works and why, without portending a normative commitment to the continuation of the status quo.43

2.1 Constitutive powers

The powers of international institutions are established via the constituent document and evolve via the practice of the institution. The Human Rights Council was established via General Assembly Resolution A/RES/60/251 (15 March 2006), with its members elected via General Assembly votes. The WHO was established via a treaty agreement between United Nations member states in 1948, with membership open to all UN member states. The Peacebuilding Commission was established through Security Council resolution 1645 (2005) and General Assembly Resolution A/RES/60/180 (30 December 2005), with its members elected or selected from the Security Council (seven members selected), General Assembly (seven members elected), ECOSO (seven members elected), UN missions (five top providers to missions), and from UN funders (five top funders, including the peacebuilding fund). Each of these organisations, therefore, function as specialised agencies (WHO) and secondary organs (HRC, PBC) of the United Nations, such that their powers are also circumscribed by the authority of the principle organs that created them and any law-making powers are soft law powers. The exception is the WHO, which, as a treaty body can issue agreements, via its Assembly, on matters within its remit that are binding on states. All three institutions under discussion have limited powers to construct legally binding obligations under international law: however, each has the capacity, in varying degrees, to influence future law-making and state practice via recommendations and inquiry processes, as well as soft law powers through the creation of non-binding resolutions. In all cases, including the hard law-making power of the WHO, the capacities of the institution are limited to the object and purpose of the organisation.

The changing relationship between states and institutions is reflected in the role of constituent documents in establishing the parameters of an institution’s powers. While institutions are not permitted to act ultra vires, or outside the powers given to them via the constituent document, the meaning of this is always subject to the necessity that institutions be guided by the object and purpose of the institution rather than a rigid adherence to the precise terminology of the constituent document. This is most obvious in the life and practice of the Security Council, which has expanded its remit via practice.44 The Nuclear Weapons Advisory Opinion before the International Court of Justice found it necessary to maintain a restraint on the (p.143) expansion of institutional remits, although this has not been without criticism.45 In addition, the practice of international organisations in transforming the action of states, over time, and thus contributing to the crystallisation of customary international law remains impossible to quantify and yet an important, significant site of interplay between states and institutions within international law. At the same time, the role of states in creating, defining, acting through, and implementing the work of international organisations curtails the possibility of international institutions challenging the state-centric nature of international law. The dynamic interplay between states and institutions remains insufficiently analysed within feminist scholarship: importantly, feminist scholarship can, through attention to plural subjectivities, challenge the flip-flopping between state consent as block to the work of institutions and institutions as potentially unrestrained lawmakers. To do so requires recognition of the need for structural transformation of international institutions, so that the stranglehold of states on the constitution and outputs of international institutions is tempered via restraints on the role of states that ultimately dislodge masculine notions of subjectivity; to embed relationality that is attentive to historical interactions and assumed knowledge about how different voices are included in institutional apparatus.

Early feminist writing on international law indicated that the solidifying of institutional power into spaces of hard law-making (Security Council, International Criminal Court), reflected, to a degree, a sense from feminist scholars that state consent remained the key barrier to the realisation of women’s rights and/or gender justice within the global order.46 Consequently, the turn to institutions to pursue gender law reform has been a specific strategy for feminist actors within international law; not so much bypassing the states as instrumentalising the goodwill of states open to gender law reform and ignoring the role gender law reform plays in supporting fledging institutions. The persistent focus on women in institutional approaches ignores dialogues with queer theories that already exist within feminist spaces, suggesting a shameful neglect of the breadth of feminist histories (both in the West and well beyond). As has been reviewed in prior chapters, if the naming of the feminist subject as woman is the strategy required for inclusion, it is a poor feminist project—creating the conditions for its own facsimile of feminism in the pursuit of gender law reform.

Within the field of international relations the study of feminist initiatives within global governance has led to the development of ‘feminist institutionalism’ as a field of inquiry which proposes to ‘bring to the study of institutions a specific lens that makes visible constitutive, gendered power relations and the processes that support and undermine them’.47 Drawing on new institutionalist approaches within international relations, feminist institutionalism accepts the larger structural and (p.144) political restraints of international organisations while studying the impact and consequences of institutional policy and action.48 Considered as a bridge between realist and constructionist approaches within international relations theory, new institutionalism focuses on the processes and interactions both within and amongst institutions as a site of knowledge production in contrast to a focus on either states or individuals. Within international legal theories, process-orientated theories provide a similar approach: they highlight the processes and decisions of institutions as able to embed and develop ideals such as democracy, justice, or human rights.49 Within international legal theories, feminist alignment with new institutionalism has been less influential, although specific authors have developed nuanced critiques from within specific institutional spaces.50

Feminist institutionalism as a project that focuses on processes and outputs of international institutions influences some of the claims articulated in this chapter. For example, True’s writing on the political economy of gender addresses international institutions as a space where women’s livelihoods might be transformed through developing a feminist political economy approach to challenge the structure and rationale of international institutions directly. True’s work thus raises a series of important dilemmas for feminist dialogues on international institutions and asks important questions with regard to how feminist methods might be transformative from within those institutions without avoiding the corollary need for disengagement from the ‘projects’ of global governance as a simultaneous feminist strategy (as developed by Otomo).51 For Chappell, addressing these same questions from a feminist institutionalist position and as a feminist legal scholar, there is a need to acknowledge:

If gender justice advocates withdraw from engagement with powerful institutions—be they courts, state bureaucracies, or legislatures—these institutions won’t stop regulating our lives. However, in the absence of feminists holding them to account, such institutions may well do a much worse job of addressing gender injustices manifested through misrecognition, misrepresentation and maldistribution.52

In this mode, the feminist institutionalism emergent within international relations re-emerges within some contemporary feminist legal writing, such as Chappell’s work on the International Criminal Court, as an important corrective to both critical feminist accounts of the dangers of pursuing gender reforms within international (p.145) institutions and with the goal of addressing the larger blindness of the institutions themselves to gender justice beyond women’s issues. The tensions between critical feminist accounts of institutions, such as Nesiah or Otto’s work, is resolved by Chappell through a recognition of ‘critical feminist friends’ as vital, while distinct from, feminist institutionalism.53 In this sense a clear tension in feminist legal writing, between scholars critiquing the limitations of institutional engagement and scholars engaged in understanding and expanding gender justice within institutional settings, is dismissed rather than confronted directly.

This chapter explores whether this tension between inside/outside approaches within feminist scholarship can be productively owned as a dialogue that is not without disagreement or difference. However, my approach differs from Chappell’s which accepts the status quo of institutions with respect to the design of their powers, their relationship with states, and the structure and foundations of international institutions within the global order. I shift from Chappell’s approach because the image of ‘critical friends’ as adjunct rather than constitutive of feminism places the dialogues with race, queer, and crip voices within the critical agenda as outside of the dialogues on feminist institutionalism. Feminist institutionalism instead prioritises gender and accepts institutional reorientating of gender law reform as inevitable.

Consequently, this chapter ultimately finds the focus on ‘gender justice’ and ‘feminist’ approaches within feminist institutionalism as offering an insufficient account of the range of dialogues and tensions that inform feminist methods, approaches, and scholarship outside of legal or international relations scholarship. For example, True’s work on political economy and institutions is significant but should also be placed in dialogue with gender’s intersections with additional structures of power and privilege (beyond economic differentials). Likewise, a turn to institutions that overlooks the authority with which those institutions were created, including the role of the legal structures institutions operate within—and through—and which perpetuate the status quo, will ignore the gendered forms of that authority. The consequence for gender law reform is the legitimation of the institution rather than transformative gender strategies. Therefore, this chapter takes the work of True, and feminist institutionalists, as an aspect of a series of feminist accounts that must be placed in dialogue with an approach to international institutions that is attentive to the interlocking privilege and power institutions reproduce, from their constitutive documents and powers through to the contours of their outputs.54 This approach acknowledges the value of existing gender justice projects within institutions while raising additional dialogues with respect to the fundamental nature of the organisations themselves via an array of feminist accounts of power, of gender, and of privileged knowledge within feminist approaches, as well as within global governance.

(p.146) For example, a turn to the HRC is in part a discussion of the gendered division between first and second generations of rights.55 However, feminist dialogues on the HRC must also assess how the promotion of rights, by necessity, reproduces a liberal model that itself represents a tool of privilege and sustains that privilege at the level of knowledge production such that alternative histories, stories, livelihoods, and knowledge practices are devalued through the constituent structure of the organisation itself. This is sustained through the objects and purpose of the organisation and the remit of the HRC, as well as the soft law nature of the constituent document itself. The position of the organisation is such that not only is it inimical to feminist projects that are not framed within liberal contours (ie rights), the intersectional nature of gender harm will be reproduced by the constitutive structure of the organisation as a series of identity tropes (gender plus race plus class plus sexuality etc) rather than recognition of rights as an interlocking platform for the sustaining of existing power relations. In particular, the historical role of gender as civilising force and of rights as the persistent silencer of non-masculine forms of knowledge is unavailable as a means to critique international institutions when the knowledge that creates the object and purpose held within the constitutive document, in this example human rights themselves, remains closed to critique. Feminist approaches to institutions and institutional reform that ignore the need for a feminist critique of rights are destined to reproduce the constituted inequalities the institution is designed through rather than disrupt these assumptions.

In the extended examination of the HRC, below, I analyse how a maternal theory of interruption might be regarded as a contributor to feminist dialogues that address the histories of knowledge production and privilege reproduced within contemporary international institutions. As a tool for change I draw on accounts of maternal subjectivity that transpose maternal essentialism for a politics of interruption, following Gedalof’s account of the politics of interruption as encompassing social reproduction via understanding of the intersection of race and gender. I reimagine the HRC and the capacity for embracing interruption as a means for transformative feminist dialogues, open to an epistemology of plural subjectivities. I regard Gedalof’s politics of interruption as a mechanism for further dialogues that approach the history of human rights as complicit in civilising missions, including through the deployment of gender justice, that leaves the HRC in need of a different level of critique than is currently offered within feminist dialogues.

2.2 Structural matters

The structure of international organisations will vary from institution to institution—including with respect to funding, representatives, decision-making processes, and review mechanisms. In referencing the structure of international organisations, I am interested in the residual role of states in the decision-making, funding, and (p.147) functioning of international organisations, as well of that of non-state actors (such as independent experts and NGOs). Fundamentally, although international organisations are non-state actors the nexus to states remains through the requirement that states create and function as the members of the institution. As such, Ryngaert describes the state/non-state relationship as one in which ‘[s]tates, or states assembled in international organizations, are still pulling the strings, and arguably only accept NSAs [non-state actors] insofar as these serve the purposes of the state or organization’.56 The acknowledgement, then, of non-state actors, such as international institutions, contributing to and shaping contemporary international law, as well as the recognition of the qualified legal subjectivity of international institutions, is always tempered with the role of states as both creators and actors that realise the obligations and rights constructed. This knowledge holds the paradox that international institutions are not states and yet are constructed by and through the acts of states. Exploring the consequences of this for feminist projects within international law is likewise filled with paradox—as it is clear that advances with respect to gender justice within global governance have been achieved through the strategic turn to international institutions and yet those institutions remain circumscribed both by the limited powers granted to them by states and the role of states in enacting the contours of institutional outputs. International institutions recall the split subjectivity of states insomuch that as equally as international law is constructed through the sovereign equality of states, international law is also dependent on the capacity of states to work in concert through international institutions; states thus diffuse (split!) their powers through the relational spaces of institutions.

A feminist dialogue on international institutions must, therefore, not only regard the outputs of international institutions but also engage with the nature and structure of international institutions that perpetuates the power and privileges embedded in international legal histories because of the role of states as necessary to give effect to institutional outputs. As such, while a feminist institutionalist approach works to celebrate small gains in gender justice that often have the potential to effect ‘subtle and small shifts over time’57 that may ultimately work towards ‘something more significant and transformative’,58 a feminist legal project must be mindful of the feminist dialogues neglected by such an approach. In particular, activating incremental change within international institutions leaves untouched and unchallenged the underlying knowledge projects that produce and set the conditions for the institution’s operation while also neglecting the colonial and imperial histories that international law emerged through. The type of feminist knowledge and knowledge on gender justice amendable to institutional pick-up will be those that do not challenge the status quo and functioning of the institution itself, in particular the entwined histories of gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, and ableist power that the institutions, and the states behind them, require to exist and remain unchallenged. Consequently, gender justice projects that work within international institutions (p.148) and identify these as spaces for gender law reform must be held in dialogue with the spectrum of dialogues that inform feminist accounts—and the plural subjects who dance, speak, listen, articulate, paint, sing, and challenge feminist self-cohesion.

The WHO’s structure and organisation is a useful example of how feminist dialogues must expand beyond either the inclusion of gender justice provisions or policies centred on women’s lives. The structure of the WHO, as with other specialised agencies, was established via the constitution of the organisation, signed in 1946 by sixty-one member states at the International Health Conference in New York. The Constitution establishes the WHO as composed of three bodies: the World Health Assembly, the Executive Board, and the Secretariat. The Executive Board’s membership comprises of experts and the Secretariat functions as the administrative arm of the Organisation. The Assembly is the only body with law-making powers (although these may be delegated to the Board when relevant)59 and its members are state representatives, usually health specialists.60 As a treaty-body the WHO is given a law-making function such that, ‘[t]he Health Assembly shall have authority to adopt conventions or agreements with respect to any matter within the competence of the Organization’61 and that ‘[e]ach Member undertakes that it will, within eighteen months after the adoption by the Health Assembly of a convention or agreement, take action relative to the acceptance of such convention or agreement’.62 The WHO is established via and through the ongoing agreement of states, as well as funded via state (and philanthropic) contributions.63

The combination of health expertise—rendering the knowledge deployed as largely technical and scientific—paired with the central role of states at the foundation of the WHO structure produces a model that is unlikely to be a transformative site of gender knowledge. For example, the structure of the various committees and programmes on gender and/or women within the WHO are not geared around a gender-mainstreaming or inclusiveness across health issues but segment women’s health from core concerns of the organisation. For example, the primary gender sub-body is within the Committee on Information and Accountability which produces annual reports on Accountability for Women and Children’s Health under the motto of ‘Leave no Woman, Child or Adolescent Behind’ and is linked to the ‘Every Woman, Every Child’ campaign launched by Ban Ki Moon in 2014.64

Underlying the initiatives on women’s health within the WHO is a very specific series of understandings with respect to the role of women’s health within global governance. In particular, given the many projects, committees, and programmes instigated by the WHO the very specific, separate attention to women’s health appears to leave unchallenged that any and all health initiatives must attend to women’s health, just as it must attend to the health of men, trans, and of non-gendered individuals. Furthermore, the coupling of women’s health with children (p.149) and adolescent health, while useful from a child’s rights perspective through the implicit acknowledgement of women’s dominance, globally, as primary carers for children, appears to reassert women as less than men (who would be, it is assumed, the focus of non-women specific programmes) and women’s health as aligned with children and adolescents. Rather than dislodging existing preferences for male bodies to be constructed as normal bodies, the foundational knowledge of these projects reproduces this mindset, while essentialising the female body as the Other to ‘normal’ medical subjects and as primarily a reproductive body, via the association with child-rearing.65 Far from being knowledge produced via the institution, this is knowledge that reflects the knowledge practices of those states whose political structures influenced and continue to influence the contours of international law—where states are designed and understood via a ‘monoglossian’ model that values the individual as a rational, unencumbered actor that forms interactions within the public sphere of the commons separate to the private, domestic space of the home/domestic sphere of political arrangements.66 The association of the state as subject that is built on a male history of political ordering infiltrates the assumed knowledge structures of international law, and its institutions, to this day, including in the nature and arrangement of gender law reforms.

The project of redefining international law through what is not male must therefore begin at the foundational structures of the discipline. The plural subject called into theory via disability studies speaks to this aspect of the dialogues presented here, writing theories of the body into feminist dialogues:

Our collective cultural consciousness emphatically denies the knowledge of vulnerability, contingency, and mortality … The body is dynamic, constantly interactive with history and environment. We evolve into disability. Our bodies need care; we all need assistance to live. An equality model of feminist theory sometimes prizes individualistic autonomy as the key to women’s liberation. A feminist disability theory, however, suggests that we are better off learning to individually and collectively accommodate bodily limits and evolutions than trying to eliminate or deny them … This kind of theoretical intertextuality inflects familiar feminist concepts with new resonance.67

In the further study of the WHO, below, I consider how maternal health is articulated via the institution. I argue for alternative knowledge forms that enter into dialogues about the locations, histories, and assumptions reproduced about gender, bodies, and institutions.

2.3 Gender mainstreaming, quotas, and women’s participation

The Fourth World Conference on Women, hosted in Beijing in 1995 produced a Platform for Action that prompted the notion of gender mainstreaming. Although (p.150) the Platform for Action does not specifically mention gender mainstreaming, paragraph 197 (and the section on Institutional Mechanisms for the Advancement of Women generally) requires ‘mechanisms and institutions to promote the advancement of women as an integral part of mainstream political, economic, social and cultural development’.68 The holistic approach to gender equality embedded within the Beijing Platform for Action led to gender mainstreaming as an aspect of the work of the United Nations by the end of the millennium. As a soft law, endorsed in agreed conclusions of the Economic and Social Council, gender mainstreaming was defined as:

the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality.69

As an institutional strategy gender mainstreaming is utopian—and proved to ultimately be unsustainable in an organisation that has a history of articulating gender equality via the development of specific agendas on women’s rights that tend to essentialise women and to reinforce a gender binary, rather than dismantle the gender binary and its hierarchical history. Charlesworth describes gender mainstreaming as both over- and under-inclusive: over-inclusive as the definition from the Economic and Social Council, requiring the assessment of implications for men and women is not clearly differentiated as ‘different from standard policy considerations’, yet under-inclusive because ‘[i]t does not address the complex ways that gender is created and sustained by social and power relations’.70 Furthermore, gender mainstreaming, post-Beijing, quickly became less about an integration of gender perspectives across all aspects of the UN’s work and instead a strategy to count the women and/or require gender experts within the organisation to consult across an increasing array of the UN’s work.71

By 2010 the language of gender mainstreaming seemed to have withered away in UN documents; at this time the key initiative became the coordination of gender affairs across the institution via the establishment of UN Women, as discussed in chapter 3. In their analysis of international institutions, Charlesworth and Chinkin focus on women’s participation in institutions and sketch out the key feminist concerns regarding the manner in which institutions function. Charlesworth and Chinkin’s analysis of international institutions finds: ‘While increasing the (p.151) participation of women in the UN is only one aspect of the broader project of enhancing the UN’s future, it is essential for increasing the UN’s effectiveness and accountability.’72 As discussed in chapter 3, in terms of (future feminist) strategies, Charlesworth and Chinkin consider both practical and substantive gender concerns which, almost two decades later, might still be raised with respect to contemporary international institutions.73 Charlesworth and Chinkin’s study of the composition of international institutions, with respect to women’s representation, remains an important issue and one that came to the fore during the election of the new Secretary-General in 2016.74 Nevertheless, it is clear that women have increasingly been selected for roles within institutions, for example within the HRC, through appointments as experts under the Special Procedures, and through the very specific gender strategy on women’s representation at the International Criminal Court. Yet mapping women’s representation within international institutions is influenced by where attention is focused. Thus, in 2016, across the 41 thematic topics under the Special Procedures mechanisms of the HRC, 24 Special Rapporteurs, out of a total of 64, were women—so roughly thirty-seven per cent. This represents a significant development compared to the representation of women across senior roles at the UN since Charlesworth and Chinkin’s analysis in 2000.75 Nevertheless, attainment of a gender balance with respect to women’s participation in international institutions is yet to be achieved. At the most senior levels, ‘28 women have chaired one of the UN’s six main committees (compared to 424 men); 3 women have served as General-Assembly President (compared to 68 men); and zero have ever held the position of Secretary-General’.76 However, it is worth noting that Yancopoulos provides a temporally elongated analysis—looking across the life of the United Nations rather than a time slice of gender representation at the time of writing—so that historical inequalities with respect to gender balance are captured and prioritised in the description.

Within key institutional entities the representatives of states will be selected by member states and there is no requirement for member states to send a gender balance amongst its representatives within institutions, such as the General Assembly, Security Council, or HRC. Radical democratic models, such as that employed by the Democratic Party of the Regions (DBP) in South Eastern Turkey,77 which require a system of co-representation, would be relatively simple to implement across key international institutions within the United Nations. A co-representation model could be established to require each member state to send at least one female and one (p.152) male representative to any treaty body, specialised agency, or subsidiary organ. This could be an important and effective move with respect to women’s representation and participation across the United Nations. Nevertheless, there are additional feminist concerns that would not be addressed by such a move: in particular, the model assumes a female–male dichotomy with respect to gender relations and appears unable to recognise more than two genders. In addition, a co-representation model, like quotas, is likely to lead to the appointment and participation of elite women whose further privilege is, for the most part, similar to male representatives in the same institutions. These would not necessarily be reasons not to advocate for a co-representation model within international institutions, rather this is indicative that co-representation is a first rather than a final step in transforming representation and participation in international institutions from a feminist perspective.

It is hoped that co-representation immediately opens further dialogues on who is silenced by the focus on gender as an organising structure. Seuffert examines international law’s histories to ask who is able to be at ‘home’ in international law, arguing:

Questions central to international law today, who may travel, invade and conquer, invaders and outsiders, arise from the shapes provided … Sedimented in these shapes and bounds of hospitality and international law are questions of homophobia and misogyny in the recognition of humanity and rationality, and of worthiness in the provision, and punishment for breaches, of hospitality … I want to promote further inquiry into the extent to which the heirs to homophobia and misogyny in these traditions, facing the challenge of embracing the law of hospitality, opening our home to other …78

The shift to expand women’s participation within international institutions, if feminist, must also address and create space for these dialogues, welcoming into the spaces created those traditionally excluded from global governance.

Failure to use gender participation as a mechanism for further dialogues on inclusion and exclusions within international law perpetuates the tension inherent in quotas and agendas. That is, to increase women’s participation within decision-making and institutional spaces highlights a series of underlying feminist tensions that have not adequately been addressed in feminist scholarship on international law. The tension revolves around the placement of women as the subject of feminist and gender reforms, as discussed across this book, such that broader feminist conceptions of gender that examine gender as fluid, gender as performative, and/or gender interconnected to other spaces of power and privilege are insufficiently addressed if the agenda revolves around the increased representation of women. Mindfulness of which women gain access to international institutions and how damaging gender binaries might be reinforced by such an approach requires discussion. Empirical work on the impact of increased representation of women in governing structures adds further strands of thinking that challenge the notion (p.153) that increased participation of women, on its own, is a fruitful feminist strategy. For example, Yadav’s study of female MPs in Nepal demonstrates the necessity to understand institutional and political histories (in this case the legacy of the Maoist movement) in their local context to understand the purchase and effect of female leadership and representation on institutional outcomes.79 For scholars advocating gender balancing within international institutions, similar understandings of the nestedness of institutional regimes to recognise how security, human rights, or health each produce specific types of expert knowledge that further silence and suppresses alternative accounts and knowledge practices is also important.

Beyond the issue of representation, however, Charlesworth and Chinkin identify the structures of international institutions as maintaining gendered forms that are ultimately inimical to the development of a transformative feminist politics. The starting point for Charlesworth and Chinkin in 2000 was a need to challenge ‘the sexed and gendered character of international institutions’ through ‘a revision of the division of labour that confines women and men to different spheres of activity’.80 In this chapter, I wish to understand the role of feminist thinking in the way international institutions might be approached at a deeper level than a recognition of the continued impact of a gendered division of labour on women, and men’s, livelihoods. Although attention to the gendered division of labour remains an important task, the remaining discussion asks a deeper structural question with regard to how knowledge is organised and perceived within international institutions, with the Human Rights Council, the World Health Organisation, and the Peacebuilding Commission as case studies. Charlesworth and Chinkin prefigure this task when they assert ‘international power structures themselves must be challenged and reconstructed to accommodate the half of humanity currently on their margins’.81

3. Three Institutions

In order to think through the feminist dialogues, I have argued for an appreciation of feminism that foregrounds a series of interlocking and diverse dialogues. In this section I examine the three international institutions, the Human Rights Council, the World Health Organisation, and the Peacebuilding Commission, in detail and with reference to a diverse set of feminist dialogues drawn from inside and outside of contemporary feminist accounts of global governance. Throughout I work to disrupt any sense of comfort derived from attention to these dialogues through the interjections of feminist, crip, and queer theories as necessary contributors at an epistemological level.

(p.154) 3.1 Human Rights Council

… ‘nested newness’ alerts us to the ways in which ‘old’ gender practices, norms, and expectations often underpin new institutions in ways which can blunt their reformist potential.82

This section considers the Human Rights Council, describing the Council’s powers and remit before embarking on an analysis of the practical and normative exclusions (and inclusions) that the HRC operates through. In taking a feminist lens to the HRC, I explore the continued impact of the colonial genealogy of the international order on the contours of international institutions. I begin by examining the source of the HRC’s powers, the nature of those powers, and its membership and scope.

I am concerned to unearth the gendering of the practical and normative structures of the HRC—not for the production of legal tools (gender law reform) but rather as a structure embedded within the organisation and production of knowledge. The HRC is a good choice for this inquiry because it was created after the establishment of all the key women’s rights instruments, including CEDAW, DEVAW, and the Beijing Platform for Action, as well as being created after the work within the Security Council on women, peace, and security that has increasingly been articulated as functioning through and alongside approaches to women’s rights.83 Notwithstanding the various criticisms of the HRC, and its relatively weak legal power, I analyse how the constitution and structure of the HRC itself is gendered; this allows me to identify the layers of gendered normativity that operate within international institutions. Consequently, I argue that despite the practical steps towards women’s inclusion, via legal instruments such as the CEDAW regime, there remains value in drawing out and emphasising the space between the application of feminist methods and the reception of feminist messages in international institutions. In particular, I use the HRC to demonstrate the continued impact of the colonial genealogy on the international order as a gendered intersection of power and privilege that disrupts and creates distrust amongst states and actors within international institutions, limiting the capacity for the institution to fulfil its objectives. My starting point is to acknowledge that the study of gender absent of recognition of colonial legacies produces institutional outcomes that perpetuate rather than undo these inequalities.

The Human Rights Council was established in 2006 via General Assembly resolution 61/251.84 As such, the HRC’s constituent document is itself a soft law established through the coordination and cooperation of member states via the General Assembly. As the successor to the much-criticised Human Rights Commission, the HRC’s key responsibility is the promotion and protection of human rights, globally, through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, the work of an Advisory (p.155) Committee, and a complaints mechanism, as well as the capacity to undertake fact-finding missions and commissions of inquiry.85 The UPR process instigates a system for review of all state human rights records every four years. In terms of membership, the HRC comprises of representatives from forty-seven UN member states, with representatives elected every three years. Member states can only sit on the HRC for two consecutive terms and the HRC was designed with regional representation requirements.86 No gender requirements with respect to representation have been instituted.

The Human Rights Council, far from shaking off the criticisms of its predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, continues to attract criticism, primarily with respect to member states with records of human rights abuses being elected onto the Council.87 The membership model raises persistent questions regarding what the participation of states with poor human rights records in the HRC signals in terms of tolerating and ignoring widespread and systematic human rights abuses, and remains a persistent challenge to the HRC’s legitimacy and authority.88 For example, the election of China, Saudi Arabia, and the Russian Federation to join the HRC in 2014 drew criticism on the grounds that these states have continuing poor records in terms of the promotion and protection of human rights.89 Claims that Saudi Arabia advanced its system of capital punishment through beheadings during its term on the HRC, as well as alleged violations of human rights perpetrated by Saudi Arabia in the Yemen, China supressing minority rights protest, and Russia’s highly visible state repression of non-heterosexual individuals were highlighted by states and by civil society actors as representing areas of considerable international concern.

The underlying political and geographical splits that are apparent in these criticisms of the HRC, notwithstanding the significant human rights abuses of the governments in these member states, illustrate some of the impossibilities of a global institution, with membership comprising of states, to address human rights, when membership requires state representatives rather than independent experts. The US has often been at the forefront in terms of voicing criticisms of membership bids, despite the US’s own poor human rights record on a number of issues, from Guantanamo Bay to police violence against black citizens. At the time of writing, after criticisms of human rights failings in the US in the UPR, the Trump administration withdrew (p.156) from their seat on the HRC. By definition, the international human rights regime addresses states as violators and, as no state comes to the Council with a ‘clean’ human rights record, it is inevitable that a state-driven human rights entity comprising of states as members that do not abuse human rights is an impossibility—the global violation of women’s rights is an excellent indicator of this reality.

My approach is informed by Gedalof’s understanding of the maternal as a motif for reconceiving the way we imagine knowledge production occurs. For Gedalof, inspired by the work of Baraister, there is a need to acknowledge ‘from the perspective of a subject who mothers, interruption is both productive and normal, that it marks and defines the everyday experiences and subjectivities of individual mothers’.90 Unlike Baraister, Gedalof examines a theory of interruption via a study of race and gender. Gedalof’s attentiveness to Brah’s work significantly shifts the temporal and geographic assumptions with regard to mothering that Baraister does not address.91 In positioning Gedalof’s approach as a starting point for understanding international institutions, a series of dialogues with regard to how knowledge develops and what knowledge is required to contain might be imagined. In using Gedalof’s theory of interruption, mothering is embedded as a space of knowledge or, to use Gedalof’s words, ‘the “normal”, the “familiar”, the everyday, is in fact the work of persisting in the face of, in tandem with, being interrupted, so that what is repeated is never in fact the same, because its conditions are always being changed, being interrupted’.92 This rethinking of how knowledge is, and should be, perceived is potentially powerful for feminist dialogues on law because of the way objective knowledge and impartial truth claims are repositioned in a political-philosophical space that asks about interruptions, discontinuities, and their connection to processes of social and cultural reproduction.93

In returning to the HRC, where the production of ‘truth’ and ‘objectivity’ is precisely what seems at risk when member states are permitted to participate (or withdraw support) despite their own poor human rights record, a turn to a dialogue that holds interruption and change within its modes of operation would be powerful at a number of levels. First, a theory of interruption might pursue the very simple participation claim that co-representation of member states could be pursued to create a gender balance within the HRC (and other international institutions).94 That is, member states might be required to send two representatives to the Council, one identifying as male and one not identifying as male. This would not only be an interruption in the way things have been done previously but also (p.157) ask member states to interrupt the status quo of their own representation policies, consider how things might be done differently and how this might transform cultural expectations with respect to gendered participation. While some states might wish to argue that there are insufficient qualified women available to fill a co-representation strategy, when argued as a space of interruption and a politics of interruption, co-representation requires member states to inquire as to what is in effect being interrupted by such a policy and why women in decision-making positions leads to repetition of anxiety by those in power and within political groups.

Commencing a strategy of co-representation on gender grounds would hopefully lead to further dialogue on additional mechanisms to diversify who states chose to represent them within international organisations. Further opportunities for interruptions might be offered to survivor groups within states who, for example, might be consulted by human rights representatives, and placed as formal advisors, or indeed as state representatives. States with consistent poor performance in a specific area might only be given the opportunity to bid for a seat on the HRC if they interrupt their own histories through incorporating advisors from specific groups into their delegation. For example, settler colonial states, such as Australia (a member of the HRC as I write in 2018), who have a long record of human rights abuses against the indigenous population, might be required to interrupt their own participation through the incorporation of indigenous representatives into the delegation they would send to the HRC as a condition of bidding for a seat.

Likewise, if feminist theory and approaches already, always, recognise a dialogue with crip theories, then gender law reform strategies, including those that are centred on increased participation for women, must, by definition, ask how disabled and queer voices are represented and given access to decision-making forums. This might be the very practical reality of checking and demanding inclusive physical spaces, as well as an intellectual shift that questions how communities within international institutions construct and obstruct the capacity to belong and participate within global governance.

Second, the politics of interruption asks for a rethinking of the substantive forms and the working structures of international institutions. The purpose of the UPR, therefore, is precisely to embark on an interruption into state practice and to disrupt the reproduction of certain practices as normal, routine, and expected. Similarly, shadow reports by human rights and survivor’s groups further interrupt the state’s representation of its own practices through the creation of alternative records and repositories of knowledge. This process, however, is slow in achieving change due to the soft law nature of the institutional outcomes that leave no compulsion for states to respond or to change their behaviour. As such, a feminist project that not only regards soft law tools, such as the UPR, as important ‘interruptions’ into the cycles of knowledge production requires a fundamental rethinking of the substance and structures of international institutions themselves. To interrupt the structural components of the HRC gender co-representation and advisory structures that specifically attend to that state’s past human rights abuses as requirements for state representatives would be starting points.

(p.158) Within the HRC’s practices the process of UPR functions as a disruption and an interruption into the state’s everyday mode of functioning. Importantly, the UPR asks states to interrupt persistent practices. Yet as a soft law tool UPR is a weak mechanism that cannot compel states to change their behaviours, despite the report and investigative processes producing knowledge and perspective—both at a formal and informal level. I argue, drawing on Gedalof, that the process of reproduction and interruption must go further and, in pursuing gender justice, interrogate the knowledge the Council relies on as assumed and accepted, and that this is necessary to fully interrupt the continued abuses that states, whether on the Council or outside it, continue to perpetrate.

The starting point for this interruption is the gendered histories of human rights. My concern is that international institutions reproduce stories of human rights that place women’s human rights as an aspect of the triumphal emergence of human rights—from CEDAW to Beijing to the protection of women’s rights under the guise of military force in Afghanistan—without consideration of the co-optation of human rights in the intersectional harm women experience. This can be understood through examining the specificities of women’s human rights, for example the attempt to ‘deliver’ women’s human rights to the women of Afghanistan after the end of the Taliban rule, and through examining ‘general’ human rights, for example the right to be free from torture. A feminist turn towards international institutions that is absent of dialogues established to disrupt the assumed knowledge produced within those institutions will continue to reproduce, rather than disrupt or interrupt, the gendered imperialism that international law was produced through and continues to reproduce.

The US decision to use military force in Afghanistan in 2001, after the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, was—from a legal perspective—articulated as the right to self-defence.95 Popular accounts articulated in Western states used the Taliban’s gender apartheid as a mechanism to ferment support from Western populations and, to this day, relay stories of the ‘empowerment’ and ‘agency’ of Afghan women brought about by US, and NATO, presence in Afghanistan. Lamb writes of her experience in Kabul, after the fall of the Taliban:

There were French lawyers arriving to draw up the constitution. Feminists setting up gender awareness classes, a women’s bakery and a beauty school for which American beauty editors sent make-up. There would even be estate agents, as the so many aid agencies coming pushed the rents up sky high. Elections were planned for the coming spring. But when I talked to my Afghan friends no one mentioned democracy or women’s rights. They wanted security and food and speedy justice.96

Likewise, Kandiyoti’s study highlights a gap between women’s livelihoods and the women’s rights rhetoric employed by Western states in narratives of Afghanistan (p.159) post-2001.97 For Nesiah, the pull of human rights as a civilising mantra for third world women invokes a binary between secularism and the religious while ignoring how human rights approaches have already framed the debate, and the knowledge parameters.98

The colonial histories of human rights must be seen as histories that are specifically linked to the role of gender, producing women’s bodies as classed, raced, and sexed bodies. In constructing key tropes in civilising discourses, women’s human rights knowledge contributes to the spectre of the Afghan woman’s body, confined to the private sphere and under the blue burka that quickly became, after 9/11, a global symbol of the brutality of religious fundamentalism. Consequently, when Kubra Khademi walked through the streets of Kabul in armour as a performance piece in 2015 to protest against the sexual harassment of Afghan women this was not reported as art, or a statement on gender based violence, but as a statement on the uncivilised nature of gender affairs within Kabul, and the region more broadly.99 That sexualised street harassment is a common, global occurrence is overlooked by the need to assert that ‘gender equality is still in its infancy’ in Kabul.100 Recalling Lamb’s comment above, Khademi’s performance art appears to be a story of security and insecurity rather than gender: Kubra Khademi subsequently left Afghanistan, after death threats that lead her to continue her career as an artist in Paris, France.101 The media narratives and reportage do not speak of women’s security or gender-based violence but rather emphasises, again and again, the uncivilised and regressive public space in Kabul and by extension Afghanistan. Women’s rights are reinforced as different from mainstream security concerns and as simultaneously a key indicator of the failure of state-building in Afghanistan that is assumed to be a consequence of local mindsets and not the international community, who ultimately offer Kubra Khademi refuge.

To speak of human rights and the assumptions the HRC works from, about the nature, histories, and patterns of human rights abuses, requires attention to the intersection of gender and colonial histories in the production of this knowledge. Developing new feminist dialogues on the potentiality of the HRC as a space for future gender law reform also requires the opening of dialogues to read sexuality, able-bodiedness, race, and colonial histories as written into accounts of gender. In this sense, feminist dialogues must listen to queer projects that examine how ‘[c]itzenship in a country of the global North and its attendant entitlements (rights, welfare) are privileges that are contingent on conformity with these normative (p.160) identity categories and subject positions’.102 At the same time recognising a queer attention to non-normativity raises the need for additional dialogue with crip and disability studies. A theory of interruption that refuses to settle the parameters of gender law reform and instead defines a method for continued interruptions and dialogues seems a useful feminist dialogue on international institutions. As such, a study on feminist approaches to participation must ask who is silenced in the process of achieving gender balance within institutional representation. This has numerical and knowledge components and, in the words of Wilkerson, encompasses a project of thinking ‘the unthinkable, to sacrifice comfort and abandon respectability to work for genuine inclusion. Perhaps the first step is to face the challenge of asking, when such coalitions have not materialized, why they have not’.103

3.2 World Health Organisation

This section examines the WHO and the production of soft laws, in particular with regard to the right to maternal health. I link the diversity of feminist approaches and their potentialities as dialogues of relevance to international law and institutions to the WHO. I analyse the risks and value of institutional production of soft law from a feminist perspective prior to examining contemporary feminist engagements with the politics of location. I consider feminist dialogues on the politics of location as sites of important knowledge and methodologies that might inform future feminist approaches to international institutions.

I analyse the WHO as illustrative of specialised agencies within the international order. Other specialised agencies include the World Trade Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Agency, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the International Labour Organisation, the World Bank Group, and the Universal Postal Union, amongst others. Each specialised agency is established via a multilateral treaty and thus membership comprises of signatory states, while the scope of the organisation will be limited to the object and purposes of the agency established in the constituent document. Most have some form of law drafting power and, even if producing soft law, influence law-making through their specialised knowledge. Contemporary international legal scholarship on both expertise and fragmentation invokes these regimes as evidence of both the technical specialisations required and of the rise of sub-regimes, especially where dispute mechanisms have emerged, such as the WTO Dispute Settlement Body. The attention to gender, and gender perspectives, varies considerably across the various specialised agencies. The World Bank Group, for example, undertakes and commissions a prolific series of gender analyses and policy papers; other regimes, imagined as largely technical in scope, such as the Universal Postal Union do not contribute to the contours of gender law reform (p.161) within the global order. The WHO has developed some gender specific agendas, while other aspects of its work remain immune from any gender analysis and/or policy, so it constitutes a good example of a specialised agency for the purposes of this chapter.

As the WHO is a large institution I focus on the accommodation of the Millennium Development Goal on maternal health.104 I reflect on how soft laws produced via specialised agencies can be considered important arenas for feminist law reform. Returning to Charlesworth and Chinkin’s identification of soft law as feminised and yet potentially feminist I analyse the risks and value of institutional production of soft law from a feminist perspective.105 In examining the production of soft laws on maternal health I also consider feminist dialogues on the maternal as analytical tools to demonstrate how feminist knowledge that is incorporated into international endeavours tends to downplay the politics of location. The prevalence of human rights as a ‘catch all’ within the maternal health discourse is a good example of how the politics of location, and thus an understanding of the variance of gender, human rights, and other types of knowledge, are not integrated into the knowledges drawn on to articulate gender within the WHO. The focus of this section is distinct from the previous one. In the study of the HRC I have examined the politics of interruption and motherhood as interruption as a corrective to dominant knowledge projects in Western states that often inform global governance. In this section I examine the maternal as situated as a specifically women-centred policy and the risks of incorporating a very narrow understanding of maternal experience within the current form of expertise, policy, and law. Within this account I am interested in the role of human rights as a motif and agenda that is incorporated in an unexamined fashion, in terms of holding various truths about human experience that are, for example, gendered.

To undertake such a project and open this dialogue it is necessary to first dislodge Western feminist assumptions regarding the universal experience of mothering and the production of mothering in the Global North as invisible alongside mothering in the Global South as a hyper-visible health risk, to consider this as a gendered space of knowledge production rather than simply reproduction. The continued imagining of motherhood as uniform and as experienced in the same way by women within and across communities is not only dismissive of cultural variations in meaning and understanding of maternal subjectivity but also silences the different experiences of disabled, migrant, lesbian, and trans people as mothers. Gedalof’s account of the politics of interruption, drawing on Baraister, accepts such a possibility and engages difference through the recognition of social reproduction and the necessity of sameness to build stories of nation and belonging, arguing that ‘something new and different arrives to make us stop and look around a space that has been invisible in its apparent repetitiveness, something that takes us outside of ourselves and could make (p.162) us look at ourselves anew’.106 Furthermore, a feminist dialogue designed around a politics of interruption, it is hoped, is also open to the interruption of its own expectations with respect to the production of knowledge.

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG), focused on specific strategies to alleviate the impact of poverty, globally, included MDG Five to improve maternal health. This incorporated the specific goals of reducing levels of maternal mortality by three-quarters and to achieve universal access to reproductive health between 1990 and 2015. Over this period maternal mortality fell by forty-five per cent and universal access to reproductive health services was not achieved. In 2015 the MDGs were superseded by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)—targeting 2030—which contain seventeen goals, including gender equality, but no longer specifically address maternal health improvements. SDG Three, however, includes maternal health within the larger goal of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. The WHO asserts SDG Three contains the goal ‘to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 births, with no country having a maternal mortality rate of more than twice the global average’.107 Consequently, the 2018 WHO Recommendation, Intrapartum Care for a Positive Childbirth Experience, ‘highlights the importance of woman centred care to optimize the experience of labour and childbirth for women and their babies through a holistic, human rights-based approach’.108 The emphasis on human rights and individual choice present a specific understanding of health encounters. I analyse the WHO’s approach to maternal health in this section to centre and assess the role of soft law documents within international institutions and to consider the tensions in development projects that ‘carry’ Western perceptions of gender, sex, and sexuality.

The intrapartum care guidelines are good evidence of the discussion on both expertise and fragmentation. As a site of health expertise, the guidelines ignore a presentation of a directly political or ethical agenda. For example, recommendation number three asserts: ‘A companion of choice is recommended for all women throughout labour and childbirth.’109 The evidence-based account given to explain the inclusion of this provision refers to global economic differences through references to women from HIC (High Income Countries) and LMIC (Low and Middle Income Countries) but is unable to capture the impact of sexuality, local gender expectations, and/or intimate partner violence as well as variations in access to resources within a state to really address the complex reasons around who a women might choose as a companion during the period of giving birth.110 A feminist dialogue on plural subjectivities would commence by asking about different women (p.163) (and men) and the different needs required in terms of identifying birth companions. Instead, under the current regulations the combination of a focus on choice (as in the companion of choice) and a human rights based approach centres the specific legal subject of Western liberal discourses—as a rational choosing actor whose rights are defined through their identity as an individual subject.

Feminist dialogues on mothering, across feminist spaces, demonstrate a series of alternative understandings of knowledge.111 I am less interested in how these dialogues configure motherhood and more interested in how different locales often produce knowledge in a manner that seems inconceivable in dominant articulations of ‘universals’ within the global order. The two universals I appraise here are human rights and mothering. Both are invoked as mechanisms for knowing that do not require specific iteration or discovery of the diversity that they might hold. Gedalof’s account of the role of interruption as a form of social reproduction illustrates the counter-knowledge that might emerge and how gender might be thought through differently. This type of conversation, I argue, is the type of dialogue on international law that is relevant to future feminist international legal endeavours, including those that engage international institutions as a space of gender law reform. I therefore use the example of maternal health to look beyond the notion of specific gender law reforms towards transformative dialogues on international law that engage feminist methods.

Gedalof, drawing on Brah, writes of how

the figure of the mother in the history of Western thought stands as a metaphor for sameness. Physical reproduction—birth—is generally seen as the mere ground for the more important productive things that happen after we are born, and separation from the sameness of the mother is seen as crucial to developing as distinct individual selves.112

Both human rights and the individualism on which the WHO approach to maternal health centres, rely on precisely this type of underlying assumption about subjectivity. Recognising that the mother is more often produced as motif for sameness, theorising alternative subjectivities has the potential to raise feminist dialogues that admit plural subjectivities, acknowledge relational subjects, and open space for dialogues that are premised on interruptions. Gedalof develops her account in response to the construction of Britishness within the UK and through drawing on Baraister’s approach to thinking about difference.113 For Gedalof this requires moving beyond seeing ‘birth as a mere repetition’ or that ‘the mother stands as the abject figure, as that which must be excluded and transcended, in order for the masculine subject to bring himself into being’.114 In exchange Gedalof theorises:

… might the mother—rethought, reframed, wrenched away from this logic of the same that ties reproduction to statis—be more of a disruptive, ‘post-humanist’ figure for tracing an alternative narrative or genealogy …115

(p.164) Gedalof’s account, thus, requires a recognition of the encounter with strangers and an appreciation of social reproduction defined through interruption. The encounter with strangers, in Gedalof’s work, is a reference to the knowledge processes encountered in the diasporic subject which for Gedalof disrupts the uninterrupted notion of Britishness to reconfigure difference as an element of belonging that is both present and historical.

Similarly, Ahmed theorises the incompleteness of the Beijing Conference through attention to strangers and the encounter with the Other, as stranger, constructed in the Beijing Platform for Action:

the constitution of women as global actors involves forms of differentiation, where various ‘other’ women are named as yet to fulfil their debt to modernity. The ideal, then, of the document is the becoming women of all women: it is the development of all women into modern individuals, who are able to reproduce not only the family, but the global space as familial space. In such a model, women who are marked as different to those women who are already ‘modernised’ must be brought into the international community.116

Ahmed’s articulation of strangers in transnational feminist spaces adds to Gedalof’s dialogue on social reproduction in Britain with an appreciation of global divisions of labour and difference that are reproduced within the structures of global governance. The WHO intrapartum study undertakes and reproduces a similar series of assumptions, where maternal health requires a becoming of the self-disciplining liberal subjects, protected via human rights norms and exercising choices in relation to health care that are predicated on an understanding of mothering and birthing configured in the global north.

To return to the WHO companion of choice recommendation in the intrapartum policy, discussed above, the imagining of a women in labour travelling to a clinic and exercising choice with regard to her labour partner provides an expectation for women outside of Western/HIC to become modern women, who give birth in hospital and clinics, who are accompanied by their partner when giving birth, and, if the further notes and evidence are to be acknowledged, aspire to be able to pay for a companion in the ideal scenario. Home or community births are not considered, despite evidence of the positive effect this has on birthing experiences and the core ideology of choice betraying an individualism akin to Western liberalism and capitalist systems. The recommendations note that ‘[i]n many countries, particularly HICs, women who want doulas pay for them privately. Extending companionship of choice to underprivileged women in these settings would increase equity’.117 The assumption of privately outsourced birth care as a standard produces the perceptions of maternal health drawn from Western and HIC as desirable to constitute a familial global standard of intrapartum care. This approach ignores best practices derived through understanding local needs and the impact of an underlying liberal subject, created via the technical, medical recommendations in the report, as not uniformly representative of legal subjects.

(p.165) Both Gedalof and Ahmed centre dynamic approaches where cultural and social reproduction require, and are defined by, interruption. Gedalof develops this in response to accounts of mothering in Britain and the racialised and classed narratives interrupted by diaspora communities that construct ‘interruptions that both require and enable repeatedly “going over the same ground as a way of bringing something new into being” ’.118 Ahmed takes up a similar reconfiguration of knowledge in the space of global governance, arguing that

the possibility of something giving—not me or you—but something giving in the very encounter between a ‘me’ and a ‘you’, begins only with a recognition of the debts that are already accrued and which assimilate bodies, already recognised as strange or familiar, into economies of difference.119

This approach to feminist theorising grounds difference as the space for feminist knowledge production—where attention to who is made strange by universal categories and moments of assumed knowledge are the indicators of tensions and exclusion that demand further dialogue. Furthermore, identifying the politics of location as shaping knowledge production draws out the need to disrupt and interrupt knowledge production within international institutions.

Analysis of the work of the WHO demonstrates the various layers of feminist inquiry into the foundations of international law that are required. The intrapartum care document on the one hand proposes an evidence-based set of recommendations and, on the other hand, incorporates specific assumptions with regard to appropriate outcomes that would benefit from feminist dialogues that are drawn from plural accounts. This requires an account and interrogation of the assumed knowledge with respect to international standards, such as human rights and the terms of liberal subjectivity, as well as attention to the processes that permit identification of whose knowledge is important and in what ways.

3.3 Peacebuilding Commission

The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission is something of an interruption to the structure and design of international institutions. The PBC, or an institution like it, was first proposed in the General Assembly Summit Outcome Document in 2005 as a means to provide a ‘coordinated, coherent and integrated approach’ to peacebuilding in post-conflict communities.120 While originally envisaged as an expert group with the Security Council and peacebuilding donor states as key actors, this was adapted after the interventions (interruptions?) of coalitions such as the G-77 who challenged the Western configuration of early proposals.121 The final design of the institution was such that it is a joint subsidiary body of both the (p.166) UN General Assembly and UN Security Council. The PBC comprises of thirty-one members, drawn from the member states on the Security Council as well as member states representing the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and key donor and troop contributing states. The structure of PBC incorporates an Organisational Committee, country-specific committees, and a Working Group for Lessons Learned. The PBC was subject to review of the larger peacebuilding architecture within the UN in 2015 and this lead to a strengthening of the PBC’s mandate in 2016, via the simultaneous release of Security Council and General Assembly resolutions that recognise the continuities between pre-conflict states and post-conflict states.122 Both resolutions also incorporate women’s participation as integral to peacebuilding processes.

Due to its relatively recent creation, the PBC has always included a gender mandate. Tryggestad’s analysis of this finds:

the ‘women, peace and security’ agenda fell victim to larger political and procedural disputes that stemmed mainly from power struggles between the G-77 majority in the General Assembly and the dominant powers of the Security Council. However, once gender issues were put on the agenda their relevance to peacebuilding was acknowledged without much resistance.123

Tryggestad identifies a distinction between the take-up of gender norms in the PBC and the flow into the acts of member states, such that ‘the norm that women and women’s concerns are vital to sustainable peacebuilding cannot yet be said to have cascaded sufficiently among member states to influence policy as a matter of course’.124 Shepherd’s study of the PBC focuses primarily on the incorporation of women, peace, and security at policy levels and finds a combination of techniques at policy level that limit the effectiveness of the institution incorporating a response to gender as a power dynamic.125 Shepherd’s study of the embeddedness of the language of gender alongside the meanings given within the structures and workings of the PBC links to the discussion of expertise in chapter 2. Gender as a technology in and of itself, is underscored by Shepherd’s analysis of the continual reframing of gender to work as a signifier of women and as a mechanism for increasing women’s participation. Shepherd concludes that the legitimacy of peacebuilding is heavily gendered and raced in ways that frustrate and infiltrate any turn to ‘local’ or bottom-up initiatives.126

Shepherd’s analysis of the gendered frames within peacebuilding policy chimes neatly with many of the arguments of this text. At the same time Shepherd’s focus on text and discourse highlights a persistent set of tensions within feminist dialogues that I have not, I would argue, thus far paid sufficient attention to. Shepherd recognises this in her own methodology and writes, ‘[t]here is no doubt another project, (p.167) the ghost-twin of the project at hand, from which my ghost-twin travels to Burundi, or Liberia, or Guinea-Bissau and does engage directly with the women about whom the UN writes so copiously’.127 However, Shepherd simultaneously challenges the framing of gender as centred on women, describing this as constraining ‘that which can be imagined or implemented’.128 In contrast, True centres women’s lives and looks at the impact in the lives of women in post-conflict communities to argue for expanded rights and access to resources for women.129 Both authors write on the PBC and ask for more than the PBC has thus far been able to achieve, through their different contributions to the dialogue on gender in peacebuilding. True, however, concludes that ‘[w]omen’s capacity to participate in peacebuilding is closely linked to their enjoyment of economic security and rights’.130 I am interested in this tension between gender and women in feminist dialogues, as both True and Shepherd add important knowledge to the existing debates of gender law reform in global governance. True uses the experiences of women, and the gendered neglect of socioeconomic rights in peacebuilding to demonstrate the complicated structural restraints on peacebuilding missions. Shepherd challenges the focus on women to ask what places and spaces gender projects hold within the larger discourses of peacebuilding. Each is looking at different aspects of peacebuilding practice and yet by placing their work in dialogue a key feminist tension is brought to the surface and given space. In following the larger methodologies explored in this chapter, further interruptions might also be sought to ask how peacebuilding practices operate if a feminist methodology can hear and listen to the differences in True’s and Shepherd’s approaches as a starting point for further interruptions.

For example, True’s account of the political economy of peacebuilding illuminates the operation of gendered practices within international structures shifting dialogues toward recognition of the underlying structural dimensions of inequalities within communities, whether international and local. True defines her approach as requiring that ‘we address the physical/political and economic/livelihood insecurities as part of the same framework for bringing about peace’.131 As such, she examines the ‘lack of coherence’ within the different components of peacebuilding alongside their gendered impact in post-conflict societies.132 True’s project therefore centres on women’s experiences of peacebuilding practice and the economic effect on women’s livelihoods. The material effect of peacebuilding activities on women’s lives thus speaks back to the limited discourse on gender identified by Shepherd; although the two pieces of research deploy different feminist methodologies they both indicate a dissatisfaction with the account of gender in peacebuilding practice. Both approaches are echoed in the independent review of gender and peacebuilding, commissioned by the PBC in 2014; amongst the conclusions drawn the author argues that ‘[t]he purpose and use of gender analysis is currently caught up in a distracting debate of woman-centred versus gender relations whereby tensions exist (p.168) in the interpretation of UNSCR 1325 among peacebuilding actors in terms of women’s rights versus the use of gender analysis’.133

Drawing in a feminist account of dialogues and interruptions, even alongside my near-constant assertion that a feminist analysis ought to focus on gender, not women, the challenges drawn by these differing accounts might be instrumental in thinking through how to address feminist tensions. That is a series of tensions around essentialism—that is, a focus on women over gender—and tensions around the material effect of gendered knowledge practices and the discursive engagement with those practices materialise. Leaving this as a tension, rather than trying to smooth over ruptures in feminist approaches, might open the way to new sorts of knowledge practices, interruptions, and dialogues. For example, rather than focusing on the need to resolve this tension, perhaps there is a necessity to examine what further knowledge is excluded in centring feminist dialogue on the choice between women-centred and gender-centred methodologies. This would, of course, be an interruption to the central arguments of the book. The consequence, however, might be to explore how the prioritising of gender, and women, in feminist work silences specific accounts of gendered lives, gendered violence, and gendered intersections, such as elaborated by differently abled and queer voices, amongst others. Furthermore, these dialogues might also be interrupted by attention to the layers of historical interventions that have deployed gender as a means to civilise non-Western communities and to write out/over local knowledge practices.

A focus on how social and economic inequalities are embedded in international and national practices thus draws in an understanding of class but might also be used as a means to further address the intersectional privileges that are rendered invisible through an account of gender in isolation. This converges with Shepherd’s account of hierarchies of power and the role of gender as one manifestation of the hierarchy. Once difference is foregrounded through the examination of power and intersectionality, a feminist methodology that undoes the primacy of identity politics is required. Queer voices that look to the non-normative organisation of political arrangements, the role of different forms of kinship, and a kaleidoscope of possibilities are then identified as additional imperative dialogues, as are the underscoring of meanings given to normalise bodies in terms of ableist and sexuality norms that both crip and queer theorists speak to.

As an institution that interrupted the perceived manner in which institutions were established and designed, and then was further interrupted via the engagement of the G-77, the Peacebuilding Commission demonstrates both the limits of institutional gender law reforms and their continued potential to be interrupted, again, and again (and in a valuable way). In peacebuilding practice the voices of queer, LGBTi, and differently abled have not, as yet, been given an arena where they might be listened to, although the PBC has invested considerable resources in understanding the intersection of gender and youth.134 A feminist dialogue that (p.169) asks why and how emerges: one that engages how gender is both co-opted into silencing differently gendered and sexed others and why the role of gender functions to normalise specific accounts of bodies and minds. This is a dialogue with queer, crip, disability studies, and the individuals who have found sanctuary in the intellectual and actual homes created within these research communities.

4. Dialogues, Interrupted, as Feminist Methodology?

In this section I reflect further on dialogues and listening as feminist methodologies that build plural subjectivities and split subjectivities into the foundations of legal knowledge. Taking a feminist political economy approach, a maternal theory of interruption, and knowledge of colonial genealogies, I reflect on the types of dialogues necessary for future feminist approaches to international law. At the same time, I open the text to interruptions from queer and crip readings of international law to further disrupt the unencumbered and single subject of contemporary liberal legalism. I do not imagine the creation of space for this range of feminist dialogues to be either simple to create or without tensions. I am interested in how the tensions between these various accounts—as equally as between activists and academics, between critical feminist projects and legal/policy agendas, between core and peripheral subjects, and between those with access to power and those challenging the perpetuation of existing power relations—hold the potential for future feminist dialogues on international law through the very process of surfacing those tensions.

In drawing these different perspectives and methodologies into dialogue I am interested in rendering the impossibility of a static, knowable feminist theory. Instead I consider spaces of situated knowledge that are in dialogue with each other and others, and that conceive of subjects as plural and split—in terms of relationality and differences. These dialogues are situated in cultures, communities, economies, political configurations, and legal processes, and reflect gendered lives and livelihoods that are temporally and geographically fluid. In bringing attention to the material, the legacies of empire, and a maternal theory of interruption simultaneously I map different and alternative mechanisms for interrogating and shaping international law. I use crip and queer theories to illuminate how each interrogation constructs a specific location and epistemology. I do not wish to advocate for a regression into the infinite varieties of humanness but do wish to ground the relational and uniqueness of human experiences, that I regard as defining a universal experience of humanness that derives from the particular.

The turn to crip theory is not, however, self-evident. For Bone, ‘[b]ased in the rhetoric of queer theory, “crip” seeks to challenge constructions of able-bodiedness and be politically generative through the fracturing of key systems of oppression’; however, for Bone, ‘crip theory continues a cycle of silencing and marginalization that widens the divide between disability studies and the lived experiences of the disabled rather than bridging those critical gaps in meaningful ways’.135 The (p.170) debates between crip, critical disability studies, and disability studies more broadly, as well as interventions such as those attending to debility or social models of disability, draw out considerable tensions in the field of study. Bone’s argument that non-disabled-identifying individuals in expounding the language of crip theories displace disabled voices risks an essentialised version of disability and yet cannot be ignored. How can a crip theory be articulated as an incorporation of a challenge to embedded assumptions with regard to able-bodiedness rather than a re-silencing? At some point a theory of interruptions, and dialogues, must attend to who is given space to speak, and at what cost to the speaking of those who continue to not be given an opportunity to speak. A parallel example in the work of international institutions is the UN response to the pursuit of self-determination by the Sahrawi peoples. In supporting negotiations between Morocco and the Sahrawi, international institutions have effectively supported the status quo rather than creating a space for the Sahrawi to exercise their right to self-determination.136 On the surface the continued support of negotiations (dialogue) might be preferred to more violent or coercive methods of dispute resolution. However, the placing of the Sahrawi peoples and Moroccan state as equals in negotiations permits the status quo, drawn from the additional privileges granted to states as the primary subjects of international law, to accommodate and support the continued violence of the Moroccan state. This draws out an important critique of the focus of the book as a whole on feminist dialogues. In centring dialogues, I have proposed an imagined space of kind, feminist interactions able to challenge their own existing exclusions. The debates in crip and disability studies identify the naivety of imagining the constructions of the conditions for speaking as equally accommodating. Mindfulness of this flaw informs the contours of the following chapter on authority, in which I endeavour to look behind the dialogues produced throughout the text. The plural and split subjects, the politics of location, and the lived experiences of gendered lives thus continue to emerge as important interruptions and, I would argue, the form of feminist dialogue I have argued for must always be open to, indeed expect, interruptions to its own perceived knowledge practices. Thus: dialogues, interrupted.

In identifying feminist approaches as encircling a series of dialogues and interruptions, this chapter considers how diverse and divergent dialogues might be merged via plural and split subjects that draw in crip and queer theories. As a chapter attendant to the politics of interruption, the chapter struggles to contain—to listen to—the many dialogues within. However, the chapter also demonstrates how a politics of interruption, that permits plural and split subjects to speak and be listened to, can aid the development of change. I focused on gendered participation within international institutions, such as the HRC, to demonstrate how this different means to frame knowledge potentially moves beyond identity politics and (p.171) approaches participation claims with a mindfulness of who is given access and the role of gendered privilege in sustaining other forms of privilege—and harms. Gender quotas or programmes of co-representation, thus, in following a feminist methodology would examine the intersectional gender arrangements to use gender law reform to include women as merely a first step to change the way participation in global governance occurs. The knowledge project underlying this approach is further explored in the example of the WHO and the limits of the collapsing back onto an unexamined acceptance of human rights and liberal legal model they endorse. Finally, the third institution under review, the PBC, demonstrated an interruption into my own thinking to regard the material effects and political economy dimensions of gender law reform—the discussion brought together the methodologies of both interruption and dialogue to identify the necessity of gender projects surfacing tensions rather than avoiding them.

To further interrupt the knowledge presented in this chapter I introduced a range of theorists who develop queer and crip theories as mechanisms for challenging the status quo of knowledge. To avoid these interruptions from circling and joining as some form of meta-theory I wish to think through the politics of location as an additional tool, relevant to feminist thinking and instrumental in the history of gender law reform. I regard the consequent attentiveness to the geographical and temporal histories of knowledge and knowledge about gender as raising additional questions for feminist scholars within global governance. Attention to gender mainstreaming as a vehicle for interventions into some states—and not others—or some institutions—and not others—demonstrates the continuity of empire in the formation of international institutions and naivety in feminist strategies that assume they work outside of this frame.

As the chapter, and the knowledge it holds, fragments across these different interruptions and dialogues, I am reminded of the critical legal response to the charges of fragmentation of the discipline of international law, that settle for praise of diversification over the risks of fragmentation. This chapter therefore asks after the diversity of feminist methodologies, how the plural subject, intersectional and split, provides the conditions for different, and alternative voices to be ushered in via feminist methodologies to provide a continual, dynamic reshaping that is always open to its own interruption.

The chapter thus accounts for multiple interruptions, including parenting ones—invisible and yet deeply implicated in the writing, such that as I wrote the final thousand words I was called to pick someone up from school. Frustrated by a break in writing about interruptions to be actually interrupted, I tried to reframe this as a moment to ‘sit’ with the knowledge and to reflect on it, to adapt it a little, to ask myself whether interruptions as a methodology form a conceivable feminist methodology. I reflected on what was feminist about the politics of interruption and the potential risks of losing women as subjects, I thought about who might be alienated by the knowledge in the chapter, and I wondered if I was writing a project of impossibility. I recalled that colonialism presented an interruption that was violent and thus functions to highlight the need to frame power relations as producing different meanings for differently situated peoples. I thought about (p.172) Scott’s conceptualisation of gender as a critical methodology that, in refusing to accept sex difference as a primary and settled organising model, continues to ask questions of itself.137 I thought about the gender actors, academics, and thinkers I knew who would interrupt me on this point and wondered on what authority I was speaking.


(1) Gerald Goggin, Linda Steele, and Jessica Robyn Cadwaller, ‘Normality and Disability: Intersections among Norms, Law and Culture’ (2017) 31(3) Continuum 337, 339.

(2) Dianne Otto (ed), Queering International Law: Possibilities, Alliances, Complicities, Risks (Routledge 2018) 257.

(3) Lisa Baraister, Maternal Encounters: The Ethics of Interruption (Routledge 2008) 5.

(4) Irene Gedalof, ‘Interruptions, Reproduction and the Genealogies of Staying Put in Diaspora Space’ (2012) 100 Feminist Review 72.

(5) Sara Ahmed, Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Postcoloniality (Routledge 2000).

(6) Jacqui True, The Political Economy of Violence against Women (Oxford University Press 2012).

(7) Mona Lena Krook and Fiona Mackay (eds), Gender, Politics and Institutions: Towards a Feminist Institutionalism (Palgrave 2011); Swati Parashar, J Ann Tickner, and Jacqui True, Revisiting Gendered States: Feminist Imaginings of the State in International Relations (Oxford University Press 2018).

(8) Jan Klabbers, An Introduction to International Organisations Law (3rd edn, Cambridge University Press 2015).

(9) Alan Boyle and Christine Chinkin, The Making of International Law (Oxford University Press 2007); Cecilia M Bailliet (ed), Non-state Actors, Soft Law and Protective Regimes: From the Margins (Cambridge University Press 2012); Gina Heathcote, ‘Fragmented Feminisms: Critical Feminist Thinking in the Post-Millennium Era’ in August Reinisch, Mary E Footer, and Christina Binder (eds), International Law and … (Select Proceedings of the European Society of International Law 2014) (Hart 2016) 309.

(10) See further, Gina Heathcote and Dianne Otto (eds), Rethinking Peacekeeping, Gender Equality and Collective Security (Palgrave 2014).

(11) Louise Chappell, The Politics of Gender Justice at the International Criminal Court: Legacies and Legitimacy (Oxford University Press 2016) 2–15.

(12) Sari Kouvo and Zoe Pearson (eds), Feminist Perspectives on Contemporary International Law: Between Resistance and Compliance (Hart 2011).

(13) Hilary Charlesworth and Christine Chinkin, The Boundaries of International Law: A Feminist Analysis (Manchester University Press 2000) ch 6.

(15) Alyosxa Tudor, ‘Dimensions of Transnationalism’ (2018) 117 Feminist Review 20.

(16) Dianne Otto, ‘Beyond Legal Justice: Some Personal Reflections on People’s Tribunals, Listening and Responsibility’ (2017) 5(2) London Review of International Law 225.

(17) Aisha Gill, ‘Feminist Reflections on Researching so-called “Honour Killings”’ (2013) 21 Feminist Legal Studies 241, 245.

(18) Kirstin Marie Bone, ‘Trapped Behind the Glass: Crip Theory and Disability Identity’ (2017) 32(9) Disability and Identity 1297, 1303; Robert McRuer, Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability (New York 2006).

(19) Merri Lisa Johnson and Robert McRuer, ‘Introduction: Cripistemologies and the Masturbating Girl’ (2014) 8(3) Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 245, 248.

(22) ibid 1303.

(23) For an introduction to the creation of the HRC and the PBC, see CSR Murthy, ‘New Phase in UN Reforms: Establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission and Human Rights Council’ (2007) 44 International Studies 39; on WHO, see Theodore M Brown, Marcos Cueto, and Elizabeth Fee, ‘The World Health Organization and the Transition From “International” to “Global” Public Health’ (2006) 96(1) American Journal of Public Health 62.

(24) On the Human Rights Council see: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/HRCIndex.aspx last accessed 31 May 2018; Bertrand G Ramcharan, The UN Human Rights Council (Routledge 2011).

(25) The Constitution was adopted by the International Health Conference held in New York from 19 June to 22 July 1946, signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of sixty-one States and entered into force on 7 April 1948.

(26) UN Security Council Resolution 1645 (30 December 2005) UN Doc SC/RES/1645; UN General Assembly Resolution 60/180 (30 December 2005) UN Doc A/RES/60/180.

(27) Vladimir Kmec, ‘The Establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission: Reflecting Power Shifts in the United Nations’ (2017) 24(2) International Peacekeeping 304.

(28) Ratna Kapur, ‘The (Im)Possibility of Queering International Human Rights Law’ in Dianne Otto, Queering International Law (n 2) 132.

(29) Meghan Campbell, ‘CEDAW and Women’s Intersecting Identities: A Pioneering Approach to Intersectional Identities’ (2015) 11(2) Direito GV Law Review 479.

(30) ibid 499.

(31) Dan Goodley, ‘Dis/entangling Critical Disability Studies’ in Anne Waldschmidt, Hanjo Berrensem, and Moritz Ingversen (eds), Culture–Theory–Disability (Verlag 2017) 85.

(32) Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Duke University Press 2016).

(33) Suzanne Clisby and Athena-Maria Enderstein, ‘Caught Between the OrientalistOccidentalist Polemic: Gender Mainstreaming as Feminist Transformation or Neocolonialism Subversion?’ (2017) 19(2) International Feminist Journal of Politics 231.

(34) See further Dapo Akande, ‘International Organisations’ in Malcolm Evans (ed), International Law (Oxford University Press 2014) 248; Klabbers, International Organisations Law (n 8); Ian Hurd, International Organisations: Politics, Law, Practice (3rd edn, Cambridge University Press 2018).

(35) Cedric Ryngaert, ‘Non-state Actors: Carving Out a Space in a State-Centred Legal System’ 63 (2016) Netherlands International Law Review 183.

(36) ibid 186–88.

(37) Jan Klabbers, ‘International Institutions’ in James Crawford and Martti Koskenniemi (eds), The Cambridge Companion to International Law (Cambridge University Press 2012) 235.

(38) Klabbers, International Organisations Law (n 8).

(39) Study and recognition of the role of institutions within international legal scholarship is often aligned with the emergence of the New Haven School. The instrumentalism apparent in New Haven approaches often emerges in critical legal approaches: Martti Koskenniemi, ‘The Fate of Public International Law: Between Technique and Politics’ (2007) 70 Modern Law Review 1; Anne Orford, Reading Humanitarian Intervention: Human Rights and the Use of Force in International Law (Cambridge University Press 2003) ch 6 where the recognition of a normative role for international law, beyond formalism, is often implicit.

(40) Klabbers, International Organisations Law (n 8) 35.

(42) Charlesworth and Chinkin (n 13) 26–36.

(43) Yoriko Otomo, ‘Searching for Virtue in International Law’ in Sari Kouvo and Zoe Pearson (eds), Feminist Perspectives on Contemporary International Law: between Resistance and Compliance (Hart 2011).

(44) Gina Heathcote, ‘Women and Children and Elephants as Justification for Force’ (2017) 4(1) Journal on the Use of Force and International Law 66.

(45) Legality of the Use by a State of Nuclear Weapons in Armed Conflict (Advisory Opinion) [1996] ICJ Rep 2 para 21.

(46) Charlesworth and Chinkin (n 13); Karen Knop, ‘Here and There: International Law in Domestic Courts’ (2000) 32 New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 501.

(48) ibid 8–13.

(49) Rosalyn Higgins, Problems and Processes: International Law and How We Use It (Oxford University Press 1994).

(50) Chappell, The Politics of Gender Justice (n 11); see also Natalie Florea Hudson and Anne-Marie Goetz, ‘Too Much that Can’t Be Said: Anne-Marie Goetz in Conversation with Natalie Florea Hudson’ (2014) 16 International Feminist Journal of Politics 336; Valerie Oosterveld, ‘Evaluating the Special Court for Sierra Leone’s Gender Jurisprudence’ in Charles C Jalloh (ed), The Sierra Leone Special Court and its Legacy: The Impact for Africa and International Criminal Law (Cambridge University Press 2013) 234.

(51) Otomo (n 43) 35.

(53) ibid; Dianne Otto, ‘The Exile of Inclusion: Reflections on Gender Issues in International Law over the Last Decade’ (2009) 10 Melbourne Journal of International Law 11; Vasuki Nesiah, ‘The Ground Beneath Her Feet: “Third World” Feminisms’ (2003) 4(3) Journal of International Women’s Studies 30.

(54) Krook and MacKay (n 7).

(55) True, Political Economy (n 7); Celina Romany, ‘Women as Aliens: A Feminist Critique of the Public/Private Distinction in International Human Rights Law’ (1993) 6 Harvard Human Rights Journal 87.

(56) Ryngaert (n 35).

(57) Chappell, The Politics of Gender Justice (n 11) 18.

(58) ibid 10.

(59) Constitution of the World Health Organisation New York (adopted 22 July 1946, entered into force 7 April 1948) 14 UNTS 221 Article 29 (hereafter Constitution of the WHO)

(60) ibid art 10.

(61) ibid art 19.

(62) ibid.

(63) For the funding contributions of member states and others see <http://www.who.int/about/finances-accountability/funding/voluntary-contributions/en/> last accessed 31 May 2018.

(64) See <http://www.everywomaneverychild.org/about/> last accessed 31 May 2018.

(65) Janice MacCormack, Reiner Kirkham, and Virginia Hayes, ‘Abstracting Women: Essentialism in Women’s Health Research’ (1998) 19(6) Health Care for Women International 495.

(66) Ryngaert (n 35) defines this as ‘one-person narratives’.

(67) Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, ‘Integrating Disability: Transforming Feminist Theory’ in Kim Q Hall (ed), Feminist Disability Studies (Indiana University Press 2011) 13, 34.

(68) ‘Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action’ UN Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing 4–15 September 1995) UN Doc A/CONF177/20/Rev1 para 197.

(69) ECOSOC Agreed conclusions 1997/2 (18 July 1997) UN Doc E/1997/66; ECOSOC resolution 2001/41 on gender mainstreaming (July 2001) UN Doc E/RES/2001/41.

(70) Hilary Charlesworth, ‘Talking to Ourselves? Feminist Scholarship in International Law’ in Sari Kouvo and Zoe Pearson (eds), Feminist Perspectives on Contemporary International Law: Between Resistance and Compliance (Hart 2011) 29.

(71) Sari Kouvo, ‘The United Nations and Gender Mainstreaming: Limits and Possibilities’ in Doris Buss and Ambreena Manji (eds), International Law: Modern Feminist Approaches (Hart 2005).

(72) Charlesworth and Chinkin (n 13) 198.

(73) ibid; Gina Heathcote, ‘Humanitarian Intervention and Gender Dynamics’ in Naomi Cahn, Dina Haynes, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, and Nahla Valji (eds), Oxford Handbook on Gender and Conflict (Oxford University Press 2018) 237.

(74) Ourania Yancopoulos, ‘Does the United Nations Have a Real Feminist in the Next Secretary-General, António Guterres?’ (Ethics and International Affairs, 25 October 2016) <https://www.ethicsandinternationalaffairs.org/2016/united-nations-real-feminist-next-secretary-general-antonio-guterres/> last accessed 31 May 2018.

(75) Charlesworth and Chinkin (n 13) 174–79.

(76) Yancopoulos (n 74).

(77) Ofra Bengio, ‘Game Changers: Kurdish Women in Peace and War’ (2016) 70(1) Middle Eastern Journal 30, 36–37.

(78) Nan Seuffert, ‘Queering International Law’s Stories of Origins: Hospitality and Homophobia’ in Dianne Otto (ed), Queering International Law: Possibilities, Alliances, Complicities, Risks (Routledge 2018).

(79) Punam Yadav, Social Transformation in Post-Conflict Nepal: A Gender Perspective (Routledge 2016).

(80) Charlesworth and Chinkin (n 13) 199.

(81) ibid 198.

(82) Louise Chappell, ‘Nested Newness and Institutional Innovation: Expanding Gender Justice in the International Criminal Court’ in Mona Lena Krook and Fiona Mackay (eds), Gender, Politics and Institutions: Towards a Feminist Institutionalism (Palgrave 2011) 163.

(83) UNSC Res 2242 (13 October 2015) UN Doc S/RES/2242 Preamble.

(84) UNGA Res 60/251 (15 March 2006) UN Doc A/RES/60/251.

(85) Philip Alston, ‘Reconceiving the UN Human Rights Regime: Challenges Confronting the New Human Rights Council’ (2006) 7(1) Melbourne Journal of International Law 185.

(86) Seats are distributed as follows: African States 13 seats, Asia-Pacific States 13 seats, Latin American and Caribbean States 8 seats, Western European and other States 7 seats and Eastern European States 6 seats.

(87) Rosa Freedman, The United Nations Human Rights Council (Routledge 2013).

(88) The challenges to the HRC’s authority and legitimacy can be contrasted with the limited challenges to the Security Council’s legitimacy and authority, as discussed in the following chapter.

(89) Human Right Watch, ‘UN: Suspend Saudi Arabia from Human Rights Council: “Gross and Systematic” Violations in Yemen Threaten Council’s Credibility’ (29 June 2016) <https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/06/29/un-suspend-saudi-arabia-human-rights-council> last accessed 31 May 2018; Tom Batchelor, ‘Saudi Arabia Should Be Dropped from UN Human Rights Council, Say British Lawyers’ The Independent (London, 1 February 2018) <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-human-rights-council-un-yemen-lawyers-shrouded-in-secrecy-a8188511.html> last accessed 31 May 2018.

(90) Gedalof (n 4) 79.

(91) Baraister (n 3) 23.

(92) Gedalof (n 4) 79.

(93) This is not a call to embrace, essentialise, or prioritise mothering as the universal female experience. I deploy and discuss mothering as a motif that might offer an alternative or different knowledge encounter that is presupposed on its iterative, creative, changing, evolving, and non-permanence as well as grounding this knowledge in experiences of the everyday. I use the term ‘maternal’, and regard similar terms, such as ‘mum’ or ‘mothering’ as constructed terminologies that give meaning to a series of practices. While these are often associated with a biologically female body in dominant Western political philosophies, I do not regard a biological connection or a biologically female body to be necessary to enact practices of mothering/the maternal/to be a mother.

(94) The co-representation model is drawn from Kurdish local government structures in Turkey: Bengio (n 77).

(95) Gina Heathcote, The Law on the Use of Force: A Feminist Analysis (Routledge 2012) ch 4.

(96) Christina Lamb, Farewell Kabul: From Afghanistan to a More Dangerous World (William Collins 2015) 42.

(97) Deniz Kandiyoti, ‘Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Islam and Women’s Rights’ (2007) 28 Third World Quarterly 503.

(98) Nesiah (n 53).

(100) ibid.

(101) Kubra Khademi, Multidisciplinary Artist <www.kubrakhademi.org> last accessed 31 May 2018.

(102) Bina Fernandez, ‘Queer Border Crossers: Pragmatic Complicities, Indiscretions and Subversions’ in Dianne Otto (ed), Queering International Law: Possibilities, Alliances, Complicities, Risks (Routledge 2018).

(103) Abby Wilkerson, ‘Disability, Sex Radicalism and Political Agency’ in Kim Q Hall (ed), Feminist Disability Studies (Indiana University Press 2011) 193.

(104) For information on the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals, see <http://www.who.int/topics/millennium_development_goals/maternal_health/en/>; <http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/women-and-the-sdgs/sdg-5-gender-equality> last accessed 31 May 2018.

(105) Charlesworth and Chinkin (n 13) 66; Bailliet (n 9).

(106) Gedalof (n 4) 79.

(107) WHO, ‘Maternal Mortality: Key Facts’ (WHO November 2016) <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs348/en/> last accessed 31 May 2018.

(109) ibid 3.

(110) NN Sakar, ‘The Impact of Intimate Partner Violence on Women’s Reproductive Health and Pregnancy Outcomes’ (2008) 28(3) Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 266.

(111) Oyèrónké Oyèwùmí, What Gender is Motherhood: Changing Yorùbá Ideals of Power, Procreation, and Identity in the Age of Modernity (Palgrave 2015); Wendy Chavkin and JaneMaree Maher (eds), The Globalisation of Motherhood: Deconstructions and Reconstructions of Biology and Care (Routledge 2010).

(112) Gedalof (n 4) 73.

(113) ibid 79.

(114) ibid 73.

(115) ibid 74.

(116) Ahmed (n 5) 177.

(117) WHO, Intrapartum Care (n 108) 32.

(118) Gedalof (n 4) 82, quoting Baraister (n 3).   

(119) Ahmed (n 5) 154.

(120) UN General Assembly Resolution 60/1 2005 World Summit Outcome (24 October 2005) UN Doc A/RES/60/1, para 97.

(121) Torunn L Tryggestad, ‘The UN Peacebuilding Commission and Gender: A Case of Norm Reinforcement’ (2010) 17(2) International Peacekeeping 159.

(122) UN Security Council Resolution 2282 (27 April 2016) UN Doc S/RES/2282 and UN General Assembly Resolution 70/262 (27 April 2016) A/RES/70/262.

(123) Tryggestad (n 121) 168.

(125) Laura J Shepherd, Gender, UN Peacebuilding, and the Politics of Space: Locating Legitimacy (Oxford University Press 2017) 160.

(126) ibid 168.

(127) ibid 4.

(128) ibid 163.

(129) Jacqui True, ‘The Political Economy of Gender in UN Peacekeeping’ in Gina Heathcote and Dianne Otto (eds), Rethinking Peacekeeping, Gender Equality and Collective Security (Palgrave 2014) 243.

(130) ibid 257.

(131) ibid 244.

(132) ibid.

(133) Eleanor O’Gorman, Independent Thematic Review on Gender for the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO)—Final Report (UN Peacebuilding Support Office, March 2014) 7.

(134) See, further, the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) Gender and Youth Peacebuilding Initiative: <https://www.pbfgypi.org/> last accessed June 2018.

(135) Bone (n 18) 1298.

(136) Raquel Ojeda-Garcia, Irene Fernández-Molina, and Victoria Veguilla (eds), Global, Regional and Local Dimensions of Western Sahara’s Protracted Decolonization: When a Conflict Gets Old (Palgrave 2017); Karen Jacobsen, A Frozen Conflict and a Humanitarian Program the Works: UNHCR’s Confidence Building Measures in the Western Sahara (Feinstein International Center 2017).

(137) Joan W Scott, The Fantasy of Feminist History (Duke University Press 2011).