Engendering Transitional Justice: Questions of Absence and Silence

Authored by: Eilish Rooney

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Peace Accords, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Transitional Justice
Country: Northern Ireland
Region: Europe and Eurasia
Year: 2007
Citation: Rooney, Eilish. "Engendering Transitional Justice: Questions of Absence and Silence." International Journal of Law in Context 3, no. 2 (2007): 173-87.

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Executive Summary

The globalisation of transitional justice as a framework for the resolution of conflicts is a remarkable phenomenon of the post-Cold War era (Bell and Craig, 2000). In different contexts this framework has significant consequences for women’s equality. This article asserts that a conceptualisation of gender that intersects with other dimensions of inequality in state formation provides an important tool for understanding contemporary transitional justice processes. This complex tool of intersectional analysis is used to explore the issue of women’s equality in Northern Ireland’s transition. This is applied to the problems of women’s absence from negotiations and the silence in these negotiations on matters to do with women’s day-to-day lives. The Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and the enactment of the equality legislation enacted in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 are the textual sites of analysis. These documents comprise the formal transitional framework for Northern Ireland. The article examines the theoretical tensions and practical implications inherent in universal claims for women’s equality in a situation where recognition of ‘difference’ is enshrined in both the equality legislation and the mechanisms for future democratic representation. The article concludes by suggesting that transitional justice discourse can benefit from the theoretical challenges posed by intersectionality and that social stability in NI and in other conflicted societies may be strengthened through addressing the corrosive impacts of inequality.