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date: 29 May 2020

(p. xv) Foreword II

(p. xv) Foreword II

A Handbook of Gender and Conflict is long overdue. As the Cold War was drawing to a close, women activists campaigned and lobbied for recognition of the gendered harms suffered by women in conflict and more broadly of the role that gender plays in people’s experiences and understanding of armed conflict and its aftermath. This activism, alongside the publicity given to the widespread and systematic atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Somalia, Rwanda, and Haiti in the first years of the 1990s, generated greater awareness of the occurrence of gender-based and sexual violence in conflict. Significant changes in international institutional practice and procedures, both legal and political, followed. There has also been an exponential growth in cross-disciplinary work on the gendered nature of conflict, and its manifestations and consequences. However, this literature has until now remained largely disjointed, located in the academic scholarship of different disciplines, in NGO “gray literature,” in UN documentation, and in policy briefs and guidelines. The editors thus had a wealth of information and material upon which they could draw in putting together the Handbook. In favoring inclusivity, they have brought together leading voices from across activism, international institutions, and academia with those from within conflict-affected areas to provide a holistic and critical account of the diverse ways in which gender constructs our knowledge of conflict and, correspondingly, how conflict disrupts and reconfigures gender.

The book encompasses multiple issues relating to gender and conflict, including but not limited to theory and practice; historical developments and contemporary (and future) challenges; “insider” and “outsider” case study accounts; seeking peace during conflict; post-conflict dilemmas; and the continued vital importance of weapons regulation. The chapters both recap well-rehearsed themes and arguments and introduce new ones. Although not always explicitly addressed, to me one theme especially emerges from the chapters: the importance of maintaining human rights guarantees throughout cycles of violence. The 2015 Global Study on one aspect of this story, the UN Security Council’s Women, Peace and Security Agenda that commenced with resolution 1325 (2000), emphasized that this resolution was “conceived of and lobbied for as a human rights resolution that would promote the rights of women in conflict situations” and that as such it forms “part of the international tradition of human rights.” This book makes clear how important gender analysis is in keeping to the forefront the human rights of all those caught up in various ways in conflict. It will undoubtedly and deservedly take its place on university reading lists, in practitioners’ offices, and in the field. It will thus (p. xvi) help to secure gender as an indispensable topic of conflict discourse. It is a magisterial achievement for which the editors are to be both congratulated and sincerely thanked.

Christine Chinkin

Professor of International Law and Director of the Women Peace and Security Centre at the London School of Economics