Power and Danger

Feminist Engagement with International Law Through the UN Security Council

Authored by: Dianne Otto

Categories: The Field of Women, Peace and Security
Sub-Categories: International Agreements, International Law, Security Sector Reform (SSR), UN Resolutions
Region: No Region
Year: 2010
Citation: Otto, Dianne. "Power and Danger: Feminist Engagement with International Law Through the UN Security Council." Australian Feminist Law Journal 32 (2010): 97-121.

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Executive Summary

In this paper, I examine the dilemmas of over a decade of efforts by feminist peace and human rights advocates to engage with the UN Security Council. These efforts have born fruit in the Council’s adoption of four thematic resolutions on women, peace and security – SCRs 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009) and 1889 (2009). While marvelling at the productivity of this feminist engagement with power and the new possibilities that have been opened for feminist peace activism, the paper also highlights the ‘dangerousness’ of this strategy. In particular I am concerned about the concessions that have been made in order to be ‘taken seriously’ by Council members, the further erosion of feminist ideas as they are deployed to serve the Council’s own agenda, the protective stereotypes of women that have remained dominant, and the legitimacy that the strategy ascribes to the Security Council as a protector of women and as a (hegemonic) creator of general international law. My goal is not to counsel against such dangerous liaisons because, after all, ‘everything is dangerous’ as Foucault has said, but rather to promote a deeper understanding of how feminist ideas can become the tools of powerful actors and new thinking about how this can be contested.