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The law and politics of gender in transition : a feminist exploration of transitional justice in Chile, Northern Ireland and Colombia

This thesis examines feminist engagement with, and gendered outcomes of, transitional justice in Chile, Northern Ireland, and Colombia. The focus throughout is twofold. Firstly, the thesis examines the mobilization of women and feminists in each jurisdiction to influence legal change in transition. In particular, the definition of violence and injustice to be ended by transition articulated by feminist and women's organizations is explored. Secondly, doctrinal analysis examines provision for truth, justice, reparations and institutional reform in transition, in order to identify legal definitions of the violence and injustice to be ended by transition. The doctrinal analysis reveals the extent to which women's gender-specific experiences of violence and injustice are recognized and addressed by legal change in transition. Feminist and legal definitions of violence and injustice in transition are thereby juxtaposed. Analysis proceeds with particular attention to the legal treatment of violence against women and the legal regulation of women's reproductive lives. These two issues have been cited for priority concern in transnational feminist campaigning over the past two decades. Similarly, the international human rights legal framework has adapted considerably over the same period to provide express recognition of a range of rights women with respect to violence against women and women's reproductive lives. The cases under study involve a substantial temporal range: from the Chilean transition to democracy in 1990, to the more recent transition to non-violent conflict in Northern Ireland, to the contemporary process of transitional justice in Colombia. Analysis reveals the changing tapestry of international law underpinning gender and transition over this period, in respect of women's human rights, and more demanding standards of accountability for harms of the past. Further, analysis reveals how this evolving legal context has impacted the terms of feminist engagement with, and gendered outcomes of, legal change in transition. The thesis contends that, over the course of two decades, feminist and legal articulations of violence and injustice in transition have been brought closer together through feminist-informed developments in international human rights law. As the practice of transitional justice has expanded and become increasingly standardized through the influence of international law, feminist organizations have established themselves transnationally and locally as players in the design of legal change in transition. The thesis concludes by considering how feminist and legal understandings of violence and injustice to be ended by transition might be brought together more comprehensively, in a feminist law of transitional justice. However, the case studies reveal the added responsibility and potential costs of feminist engagement with transitional justice engendered by the emergence of feminist organizations as players in the negotiation of legal change in transition. In an increasingly complex political and legal landscape, the thesis ultimately concludes against a feminist legal template for transitional justice. Instead, the thesis proposes the feminist pursuit of justice in transition, and outlines four key principles to guide such engagement.
Date January 2009
CreatorsO'Rourke, Catherine
PublisherUniversity of Ulster
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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