The Exile of Inclusion

Reflections on Gender Issues in International Law over the Last Decade

Authored by: Dianne Otto

Categories: The Field of Women, Peace and Security
Sub-Categories: International Agreements, International Law, UN Resolutions
Region: No Region
Year: 2009
Citation: Otto, Dianne. "The Exile of Inclusion: Reflections on Gender Issues in International Law over the Last Decade." Melbourne Journal of International Law 10, no. 1 (2009): 1-16.

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Executive Summary

This article reflects on gender issues in international law over the last decade, using Security Council resolutions 1325 and 1820 on women, peace and security as bookends. It describes the remarkable spread of feminist ideas throughout the UN system and illustrates the productivity that can flow from the institutional embrace of ‘emancipatory’ ideas. At the same time, the Security Council resolutions illustrate a number of major problems, which include a pattern of selective engagement with feminist ideas as they are instrumentalised to serve institutional purposes; an absence of strong accountability mechanisms; and the tendency for protective stereotypes of women to normatively re-emerge. It concludes by expressing uneasiness about lending feminist support to the hegemonic power of the increasingly emboldened Security Council, and questions what this might mean for the future of international law generally, and for feminist efforts to shape the law in particular. It argues that the past decade of feminist engagement with international law highlights the need to develop a deeper understanding of how to work with the possibilities and against the exile of institutional cooption.