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Susan Harris Rimmer

Feminist international law scholarship has always insisted on showing the human faces of the state. The sources of international law are learnt by heart from Article 38 of the International Court of Justice statute, namely treaties, customary international law derived from the practice of States; general principles of law recognised by civilised nations; and, as subsidiary means for the determination of rules of international law: judicial decisions and the writings of ‘the most highly qualified publicists’. This chapter delves deeper into which actors are producing these sources, from the point of view of the female bodies now making international law. One of the most important changes to modern diplomacy is the increased participation of women, both as foreign policy elites and in wider transnational networks. If this most fundamental aspect of diplomacy is human interactions, then the new representation of women and LGBTI+ persons in the practice of diplomacy since the mid-twentieth century should have made a profound impact on the field of diplomacy studies. Moreover, societal changes in gender relations have affected some of the content and focus of foreign policy, along with the advent of female foreign ministers. This advent could be even more significant than the Internet or the rise of NGOs for the practice of diplomacy. In fact, I find that efforts since World War II have resulted in inclusion of only some limited diversity in diplomatic personnel. This is not to downplay the achievements of the pioneers in diplomacy as their efforts to serve have often been extraordinary, as I outline. I argue instead that the ‘business model’ of diplomacy has been resistant to transformation on gender equality grounds thus far, and the ideal diplomat is still gendered heterosexual, upper-class, rational and masculine. This chapter considers gender dimensions in theories of diplomacy; gender dimensions in diplomatic practices; the changing role of the diplomatic spouse; and sex, sexuality and diplomatic cultures. I argue that the diplomatic spouse model with women in ancillary, decorative and undervalued roles has morphed into junior diplomats, or celebrity goodwill ambassadors. More data is needed on specific areas of diplomatic practice (peace negotiations, trade talks, summitry) to see how the participation of women and LGBTI+ persons is shifting the practice and content of diplomacy. However, the creation of thematic ambassadors focused on gender equality in the US, Australia, the Seychelles, Norway, Sweden and Finland is an interesting phenomenon that shows transformative potential.

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Edited by Susan Harris Rimmer and Kate Ogg

For almost 30 years, scholars and advocates have been exploring the interaction and potential between the rights and well-being of women and the promise of international law. This collection posits that the next frontier for international law is increasing its relevance, beneficence and impact for women in the developing world, and to deal with a much wider range of issues through a feminist lens.
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Kate Ogg and Susan Harris Rimmer

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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Susan Harris Rimmer and Caitlin Byrne

This chapter considers the engagement of feminist ideas with the G20. It argues that the G20 deserves the attention of feminist scholarship because of its potential to progress women’s involvement on global economic governance. The Group of 20 (G20) Leaders have explicitly acknowledged the need for gender inclusive economic growth and the ‘Women 20’ was created as an official engagement group in 2015. Taken at face value, these developments indicate a new model of agency for women traditionally excluded from economic decision-making. However, as we demonstrate, if we delve a little deeper into the G20 then the feminist influence is open to challenge and requires further advancement. In this chapter, we contend that the inability of the G20 to realize substantial improvements in women’s economic parity reveals deep and systemic gendered limitations in its decision-making processes and its ability to meaningfully engage global public audiences as participants in global economic governance.