Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Ben Saul
Chapter 10: Gender, counter-terrorism and international law
International law’s doctrinal and institutional responses to terrorism are rarely canvassed for their gendered character and impacts. Gender analyses of international law on terrorism tend to aggregate at two ends of the spectrum: the evaluation of underlying gender narratives in meta-concepts such as the ‘War on Terror’, or of specific instances of gender performativity, such as the use of gendered interrogation techniques against terrorist suspects in detention facilities. The failure to talk about the spaces in-between, or to trace the trajectory of developments in how gender features in international law’s response to terrorism, renders existing accounts of gender, terrorism and international law incomplete. This forecloses important insights not just into the role of gender in international law on terrorism, but also into how the gender narratives that underpin international law on terrorism migrate to intersect with, and impact on, other international law doctrines, such as those on gender equality. This chapter is divided into three sections. The first outlines and charts the shifts in how gender has featured in international law responses to terrorism. The second draws upon feminist critiques of international law to provide an account of the erasures and manifestations of gender in both the practice and discourse of counter-terrorism and national security at the international level. The third examines more closely recent developments in international responses to terrorism that seek to integrate the promotion of gender equality as a component of such responses.
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