What does peace mean in today’s world of endless wars? Why has the project of ‘universal peace’, so ardently hoped for by the drafters of the UN Charter in 1945, failed so profoundly?
Professor Otto reflects on these questions through three stories of peace. The first is told by a series of four stained-glass windows in the Peace Palace in The Hague; the second is of the world’s demilitarised zones; and the third of a peace community in Colombia. These stories provide a springboard to reflect on how we might re-think peace in the context of today’s world, drawing on feminist, queer and postcolonial analyses. Her discussion exposes the limits of the UN Charter’s approach to peace, and the impossibility of its methods ever achieving ‘universal peace’. The Charter’s reliance on militarism and collective enforcement, as well as its commitment to peace as an evolutionary process, maintain rather than dismantle global hierarchies of domination. She also questions the dualism of war and peace, which obscures much of the violence of what we call peace. The task of rethinking peace is urgent. To do so we need to go beyond the worlds we know, beyond the confines of law and the inevitability of quotidian hierarchies of gender, sexuality and race, to invent new methods of peace-making, outside the ‘frames of war’.
About the speaker:
Dianne Otto is Professorial Fellow at Melbourne Law School and a Visiting Fellow with the Centre for Women, Peace and Security. Her research interests include addressing gender, sexuality and race inequalities in the context of international human rights law, the UN Security Council’s peacekeeping work, the technologies of global ‘crisis governance’, threats to economic, social and cultural rights, and the transformative potential of people’s tribunals and other NGO initiatives. Dianne’s scholarship explores how international legal discourse reinforces hierarchies of nation, race, gender and sexuality, and aims to understand how the reproduction of such legal knowledge can be resisted. Her work draws upon a range of critical legal theories particularly those influenced by feminism, postcolonialism and queer theory. Amongst her recent publications is Queering International Law: Possibilities, Alliances, Complicities, Risks (editor, Routledge 2018).
About the chair:
Professor Christine Chinkin CMG FBA is Professorial Research Fellow in the Centre for Women, Peace and Security, where she leads three major projects: ‘A Feminist International Law of Peace and Security’ funded by the AHRC, ‘Gendered Peace’ funded by the ERC and the UKRI GCRF Gender, Justice and Security Hub. Professor Chinkin was Director of the Centre for Women, Peace and Security from 2015-2018.