Women, War and Peacebuilding

Subject LAWS70118 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2015.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

The pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.


Successful completion of Principles of International Law or equivalent

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit: www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


For more information:

Email: law-masters@unimelb.edu.au
Phone: +61 3 8344 6190
Website: www.law.unimelb.edu.au/masters

Subject Overview:

International law has historically conceived of women solely as the victims of armed conflict. In recent years, challenges to such protective gender stereotypes have snow-balled across the whole spectrum of related bodies of international law, including international humanitarian law, criminal law, human rights law and refugee law. There have also been extensive efforts, aimed particularly at the United Nations (UN) Security Council, to promote women’s active participation in conflict resolution and post-conflict peace-building. The lecturers of the subject have both been involved in some of these challenges. In addition to canvassing these developments, the subject will examine the heated debates to which they have given rise and the many conundrums that they have raised, as well as celebrating the positive change that has been achieved.

Principal topics will include:

  • An analysis of women in ‘war’ (broadly defined) as civilians, victims, survivors, refugees, widows, combatants and peace-makers
  • The links between war and issues such as women’s inequality and inequitable economic and social conditions
  • The Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their 1977 Additional Protocols
  • Refugee law and human rights law relating to women’s rights during armed conflict and in its aftermath
  • Developing jurisprudence from the ad hoc international criminal tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia dealing specifically with gendered violence
  • Crimes specifically relating to women in the Statute for the International Criminal Court
  • The impact of Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888 and 1889
  • The role played by international non-government organisations (NGOs)
  • The challenges facing women in post-conflict peace-building.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject should:

  • Have a comprehensive understanding of the range of legal issues that impact on women as civilians, victims, refugees, widows, peace advocates and combatants during time of armed conflict and in the post-conflict period of peace-building
  • Be conversant with the international legal norms, in particular international humanitarian law and human rights law, which can provide protection for women during times of armed conflict, and the efficacy of these laws
  • Be aware of the recent developments relating to the international prosecution of gendered crimes as a form of war crime, crime against humanity or genocide and associated procedural issues
  • Understand the current debates on the need to increase protection for women during times of armed conflict and internal disturbances
  • Understand why women are usually excluded from formal peace-making and peace-building processes, despite the important contributions that they are often able to make, and evaluate the efforts of NGOs to promote change through the Security Council
  • Have a critical understanding of the role of law in protecting and promoting women’s autonomy and physical integrity in the contexts of militarism and fundamentalist regimes, and in peacekeeping missions.

Take-home examination (100%)
10,000 word research paper (100%) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Visit the Melbourne Law Masters website for more information about this subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information: www.law.unimelb.edu.au/subject/LAWS70118/2013

This subject has a quota of 30 students. Please refer to the website www.law.unimelb.edu.au/masters/courses-and-subjects/subjects/subject-timing-and-format for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Development

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