Women in Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Dilemmas and Directions

Authored by: Naomi Cahn

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR), Human Development, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Transitional Justice
Country: Democratic Republic of Congo
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2006
Citation: Cahn, Naomi. "Women in Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Dilemmas and Directions." William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law 12 (2006): 335-377.

Access the Resource:


A critical issue for post conflict reconstruction is moving beyond criminal prosecutions that ensure accountability of perpetrators toward a
system that also serves the needs of victims. When reconstruction includes disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) and
development services, these programs cannot be separated from perpetrator responsibility. The traditional criminal justice is perpetrator-
centric. Alternative forms of justice have broadened this focus, recognizing that the legal system must respond to both victims and
perpetrators. Transitional justice, which focuses on responding to past human rights violations, is critical to holding violators accountable
for their acts.
In addition to criminal and civil accountability (rights-based justice), perhaps the most significant form of justice for women is assistance
traditionally associated with development, as it provides critical social services and facilitates all aspects of post conflict reconstruction.
This article seeks to expand conceptions of international justice in the post conflict setting to include social, economic, and development-
based rights. It examines two aspects of gender that are integral to post conflict reconstruction and involve women’s differing roles
during conflict: the significance of integrating gender into DDR and the necessity of domestic responses to the crimes of sexual violence.