Developing Gender Principles for Dealing with the Legacy of the Past

by Guest Post on December 10, 2015

We are delighted to welcome this guest post.  Dr Catherine O’Rourke is Senior Lecturer in Human Rights and International Law at Ulster University Transitional Justice Institute (TJI). Philipp Schulz is a PhD student at the TJI. 

Initiatives to deal with the past in Britain and Ireland have been characterised by the absence of any official recognition of gender as a relevant consideration, including in the Stormont House Agreement (2014). The Gender Principles for Dealing with the Legacy of the Past were developed to respond to the absence of a gendered lens and the sustained exclusion of women in dealing with the past in Northern Ireland. The Gender Principles are designed to ensure that the gendered impact of the conflict and post-conflict legacy needs of women will be adequately addressed in processes emerging from the Stormont House Agreement, and in ongoing existing processes to deal with the past. The Gender Principles connect in important ways to recent work by the CEDAW Committee to ensure that states comply with their obligations under CEDAW in the implementation of post-conflict transitional justice, in particular as articulated in the Committee’s General Recommendation 30 (2013).

The Gender Principles for Dealing with the Legacy of the Past have been developed by the Legacy Gender Integration Group, an informal network of individuals with gender expertise from civil society and academia. In order to advance the development of the Gender Principles, three consultation workshops were held in Summer 2015 to work towards the principles reflecting, as closely as possible, the needs and priorities of victims and survivors. The Workshops Report discusses the key findings emerging from the consultation, namely that (1) there is an acute need for more information to be provided to victims and survivors on the institutions to be established under the Stormont House Agreement and their relationship to existing institutions and processes; (2) the women who participated in the workshops understood their experiences of dealing with the past to be deeply gendered, in terms of their experiences of harm, their coping strategies, and in their previous engagement with official processes to deal with the past; and (3) the priorities of the participants for implementing the Stormont House Agreement reflected their own deeply gendered experiences of dealing with the past, most notably in their proposals concerning reparations, staffing and recruitment, and the relationship of new institutions to each other and to existing processes and institutions.

The workshops and the report were funded by the Reconciliation Fund of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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