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Stateless Justice in Somalia: Formal and Informal Rule of Law Initiatives

This paper, published by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, assesses how formal and informal justice systems function in the country’s ‘stateless’ society. It discusses the multiple, overlapping and contradictory sources of law noting that they create confusing and contentious dispensation of justice in Somalia.  Harmonization of these systems is necessary and should include public dialogue and confidence building, capacity building, establishment of a stable political environment and a major increase in international technical assistance and funding. Read the full report here.

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Female Combatants and the Perpetration of Violence: Wartime Rape in the Sierra Leone Civil War

In wartime, academics and policymakers often assume that women are strictly the victims of violence and never the perpetrators. However, Dara Kay Cohen’s research on female combatants in Sierra Leone’s civil war reveals that women in organized militias actually actively participated in acts of sexual violence. This phenomenon is not exclusive to Sierra Leone either; the study cites war statistics from Liberia, Haiti, Rwanda, and, importantly, Abu Ghraib, Iraq. Female perpetrators’ involvement ranged from encouraging attacks to assaulting both male and female victims themselves. The study notes that women often join paramilitary groups and perpetuate sexual violence for the same sociopolitical reasons men do. Consequently, “women perpetuating wartime atrocities is surprising only because of the gendered assumptions … often [made] about women’s capacity to commit violence.” Read the full study here.

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‘Peacebuilding, gender and policing in Solomon Islands’: achieving gender equity in UN peacekeeping missions

This article discusses formally considering gender perspectives in conflict resolution, as called for by UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

Authors Greener, Fish, and Tekulu use the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) as a case study for successful UN peacebuilding, and examine the ways in which this mission achieved the resolution’s gender consideration goals. Using the RAMSI mission as a template, Greener et al. make recommendations on how to include women’s voices in the peace process, and ensure equal representation in the institutions and opportunities that follow. Moreover, RAMSI serves as an example for how gender considerations can fit into broader cultural sensitivities in peacekeeping missions by empowering women, but not compromising the overall integrity of the mission.  Read full article. 

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The complex life of female child soldiers

Brigit Katz provides a brief, but comprehensive overview of the complex experience of girl soldiers by: 1) debunking the myth that girls are solely recruited — often through abduction –to serve as domestic labor and sexual slaves noting that FARC in Colombia and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda, among others, actively recruit and train girls to engage in combat operations; 2) highlighting the value of girl soldiers, noting that commanders perceive them as easily manipulated and obedient ensuring a “constant pool of forced and compliant labor;” and 3) discussing the stigmatization and rejection of ex-girl soldiers when they try to reintegrate into society. Read full article.

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