Special issue on ‘transformative reparations for sexual violence post-conflict: prospects and problems’


An exerpt from the article by AHRCentre project directors Andrea Durbach, Louise Chappell and Sarah Williams, 'Foreword: Special Issue on "Transformative Reparations for Sexual Violence Post-Conflict: Prospects and Problems"' (2017) 21(9) International Journal of Human Rights 1185:

In 2012, the Australian Human Rights Centre at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia hosted an international conference which marked the first ten years of operation of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The conference, Justice For All? The International Criminal Court – Ten Year Review, brought together a wide range of distinguished ICC experts, scholars and practitioners from Africa, the Asia Pacific, the United States (US) and Europe, including the then President of the ICC, Judge Sang-Hyun Song and Registrar of the ICC, Silvana Arbia, Deputy (now Chief) Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda and then Assembly of States Parties President Tiina Intelmann. A key objective of the conference was to examine the role and success of the ICC in ensuring that gender justice informed its mandate, practice and procedure. Tied to this focus was consideration of the contribution of the ICC (and similar tribunals) towards curtailing impunity for the perpetrators of crimes of sexual violence and preventing its occurrence post-conflict.

The dual objectives of ending impunity for crimes of sexual violence and preventing its repetition, particularly in post-conflict settings, via the design and implementation of so-called transformative reparations has been the theme of exploration of a three-year Australian Research Council funded project conducted by the editors of this special edition. More particularly, our research has sought to test the claim by some gender justice advocates and transitional justice scholars that court-ordered reparations – such as at the ICC and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, among other tribunals – can serve both a remedial and a transformative function for victims of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence.11 Ruth Rubin-Marín, ‘The Gender of Reparations in Transitional Societies’, in The Gender of Reparations: Unsettling Sexual Hierarchies While Redressing Human Rights Violations, ed. Ruth Rubin-Marín (Cambridge: Cambridge University press, 2009), 63–120; Ruth Rubio-Marín, ed., What Happened to the Women? Gender and Reparations for Human Rights Violations (New York: Social Science Research Council, 2006); United Nations General Assembly, Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, Rashida Manjoo, on ‘Reparations to Women Who Have Been Subjected to Violence’, UN Doc. A/HRC/14/22, 23 April 2010, 14th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G10/131/09/PDF/G1013109.pdf?OpenElement (accessed 27 July 2017).View all notes The transformative dimension of reparations envisaged not only addressing the rehabilitative and compensatory needs of victims, but potentially also adjusting or eroding the structural conditions (economic, social, political and cultural) that might have enabled the violence during conflict and, in many cases, sustained its recurrence post-conflict.

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Photo: UNMISS/Isaac Billy