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PSRP Researchers Presenting: New Tasks for Militaries: Rethinking new, evolving and old norms

February 22, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 5:45 pm

PSRP researchers Fionnuala Ni Aolain and Megan Bastick will present as part of the panel ‘New Tasks for Militaries: Rethinking new, evolving and old norms’ at the  International Studies Association Annual Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, on February 22 2017. This panel is sponsored by the Feminist Theory and Gender Studies, Understanding Change in World Politics, and International Security Studies ISA sections. The presentations relate to the PSRP Gender research theme.

Megan Bastick (University of Edinburgh) will chair the panel, and the discussant is John E. Karlsrud (Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.


  • Military responses to sexual violence in conflict Megan Bastick (University of Edinburgh)
  • Gendering Occupation: The Suitability of Old Rules, Addressing the Gaps and Meeting New Challenges Fionnuala Ni Aolain (University of Minnesota Law School)
  • Food Security, Women and Climate Change in the Midst of Armed Conflict Jody M. Prescott (University of Vermont)
  • Who’s got our 6 – Feminists, Warriors or Philanthropists? Charlotte Isaksson (University of Cambridge and formerly NATO Gender Adviser)
  • Women, peace and security (WPS) and the military: The necessity of organizational change and the Government to hold the Armed Forces accountable Lena Pedersen Kvarving (Norwegian Defence University College)

Gendering Occupation: The Suitability of Old Rules, Addressing the Gaps and Meeting New Challenges Fionnuala Ni Aolain (University of Minnesota Law School)

One glaring limitation in addressing the experiences of women in situations of armed conflict is the absence of a sustained analysis of the structural limits of the law of occupation. In almost all the major writing on the law of occupation, gender analysis has been marginalized or entirely absent in understanding the limits of the law and the experience of living under occupation. If considered at all, women are generally “added in” to generic assessment of civilian protection in armed conflict, but the specific needs of women in situation of occupation, particularly in long-term ‘transformative’ occupations, have been given little scholarly attention. This paper, drawing on ongoing work by the author, addresses the historical development of occupation law, in particular the emphasis on honor in legal and policy discourses directed to women’s protection in occupation. The paper will identify the ways in which Geneva Convention norms fail to provide sustained protection to women whose lives, bodies and communities are subject to contemporary occupations. I address the extent to which (or not) human rights norms have ‘filled the gap’ and offer views on necessary augmentation of occupation law to recognize the specificity of gendered experience and remedy gendered harms.

Ní Aoláin, Fionnuala, 2016, Gendering the Law of Occupation, PSRP Working Paper No 5, May 2016.

Military Responses to Sexual Violence in Conflict Megan Bastick (University of Edinburgh)

In the global advocacy around preventing sexual violence in conflict in recent years, militaries are framed as being a critical partner for both prevention and protection. Armed forces are being asked to strengthen their capabilities to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict, including through review of their doctrine, implementation of new training, and establishment of reporting mechanisms. This is part of a broader demand, embedded within the women, peace and security agenda, for armed forces to be more responsive in operations to the needs of women and girls, and to implement gender mainstreaming. NATO and a number of armed forces are investing significant efforts in this direction. This paper examines how militaries might understand their role in responding to sexual violence in conflict: is it an extension of existing obligations under the laws of armed conflict, a development of peacekeeping’s concept of protection of civilians, a political mission, or essentially a moral imperative? It explores whether the norms governing the conduct of military operations are evolving. This speaks to broader debates about the role of law in military operations, the actors and mechanisms implicated in norm change, and the potential for gendered transformation within militaries.

Attendance is by registration for the conference. For information on attendance, see ISA Baltimore 2017.

Photo credit: Robert Henderson


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