chapter  19
16 Pages

Women and war

WithHelen Durham, Eve Massingham

When Francoise Krill wrote her seminal piece on the protection of women under international humanitarian law (IHL) in 1985,1 it was clear that the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 were the main sources of the international legal framework aimed at reducing the suffering of women during times of armed conflict. During the 1970s and 1980s, the operational work of the ICRC, and a few other developing norms also assisted in this task,2 however there was not the depth or breadth of focus upon this issue relative to contemporary reality. Nearing 30 years after Krill’s piece, whilst the Geneva Conventions and their Protocols continue to provide the core protections, many other sources of law, albeit some of it soft law, must now supplement a chapter on the protection of women in times of armed conflict. Today, one can cite a range of UN documents – including Security Council resolutions, Secretary-Generals’ Bulletins and other international law instruments – including more human rights treaties and a variety of contributions from civil society, that seek to establish mechanisms of protection for women in times of armed conflict. There is also a body of international criminal law jurisprudence – in particular from the ICTY and ICTR, and also soon to be emerging from the ICC3 – that adds to our understanding of how these rules are to be interpreted and enforced. The last few decades have also seen an increased number of studies and reflections upon the diverse way armed conflict impacts upon women.4 Gaining a better understanding of

1 Françoise Krill, ‘The Protection of Women in International Humanitarian Law’ (1985) 25(249) IRRC 337.