Political Settlements, Gender and Occupation: TJI post-grad symposium

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  • Author : PSRP Category : academic-event, knowledge-exchange, research-capacity-building, transitional-justice-institute

    Tags : Gender Occupation Transitional Justice

More than forty postgraduates, researchers, scholars, practitioners, and members of the Belfast community came together for a post-graduate Symposium on Occupation, Transitional Justice and Gender on Friday, 8 May 2015 at the Belfast campus of Ulster University. PhD students from the Transitional Justice Institute (TJI), Ulster University coordinated the event after receiving funding from the Feminist & Women’s Studies Association (FWSA) Small Grants Scheme, in addition to TJI; the Research Graduate School (RGS) at Ulster University; and the Institute for Research in Social Sciences (IRiSS) at Ulster University.

This symposium sought to address the interface between occupation, transitional justice and gender, an intersection that is poorly explored as was discussed and debated by those in attendance. Post-graduates based at institutions in Northern Ireland, England, Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands presented topics related to the following panels:

  • Protecting Women during and after Conflict
  • Intersectional Identities: Ad Hoc and International Courts
  • Sexual Violence against Men: Conflict, Transition, and International Law
  • The Impact of Conflict on Masculinities
  • Women in Northern Ireland and the Legacy of the Troubles

The symposium featured keynote speaker, Professor Christine Chinkin, Emerita Professor of International Law and Director of the Centre on Women, Peace and Security, London School for Economics, and closing remarks by Dr. Helen Kinsella, Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Discussants from TJI (Dr. Catherine O’Rourke and Prof. Fionnuala Ní Aoláin), Ulster University (Ms. Carmel Roulston and Dr. Fidelma Ashe) and Queen’s University, Belfast (Dr. Luke Moffet) engaged with presenters and provided feedback.

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The Bridge of Hope panellists

A praxis session was held with representatives from Bridge of Hope (BoH), a Belfast-based organisation that engages with victims and survivors of the Northern Ireland conflict to assist in communicating ‘across the divide.’ This portion was chaired by Ms. Eilish Rooney (TJI) who facilitated a transitional justice programme with BoH, which resulted in a Transitional Justice Grassroots Toolkit, among other documents.

An award for best paper was presented to Ms. Elizabeth Stubbins Bates (SOAS, University of London) for her paper entitled Hegemonic Masculinities and International Humanitarian Law Compliance: British Military Detention in Iraq, which “tests hegemonic masculinities as one exploratory variable in UK state practice in military detention in Iraq”. Runner up best paper was awarded to Ms. Andrea Garcia (formerly of Queen’s University, Belfast) for her paper entitled Friendship and Reconciliation: Blurring the Boundaries of Private and Public Domains, which examines, based on nine months of fieldwork, “shared weekly encounters and other activities with a cross-community group of women from Northern Ireland”.

Concluding remarks by Dr. Kinsella called for greater engagement with the framework of intersectionality when addressing gendered concerns of transitional justice mechanisms and the persistence of occupation, as well as greater utilisation of feminism, sexuality and (structural) power in future research.

Many thanks to Stephanie Chaban and Rimona Afana for reporting from the symposium.

Stephanie and Rimona are second-year PhD Researchers at TJI: Stephanie is researching the role of women’s organisations in the emergence of domestic violence laws in the Middle East and North Africa; and Rimona is researching the nexus between justice and reconciliation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and its operationalisation in grassroots peacebuilding.


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