For feminist international law scholars, practitioners and advocates, the first two decades of the new Millennium have produced moments of elation and disenchantment. It has been the best and worst of times, in the truly Dickensian sense. With respect to international law victories for women, there have been successful campaigns to further entrench women’s rights in international and regional instruments. For example, in 2002 the Rome Statute came into force, which includes sexual violence in the definition of a crime against humanity. The Maputo Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa and the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence came into force in 2003 and 2014 respectively. Women’s achievements in the international sphere have been recognised and celebrated: since the turn of this century, seven women have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for work relating to peace-building, democracy and human rights. International institutions have demonstrated greater awareness of and commitment to women’s rights and empowerment. This is perhaps best demonstrated by the United Nation’s (UN) eight resolutions on women, peace and security adopted between 2000 and 2015. Another institutional highlight was the creation of UN Women in 2010 – an organisation dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. In some quarters of the academic community, there has been optimism about feminist international legal scholarship’s growth and potential for influence. Yet alongside these and other successes, the first two decades of the new millennium have also provided reasons for despair.
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