Children’s right for their rights to be performative in peacemaking

The layered acts of violence interwoven within conflict illuminate our embodied vulnerability to hurt and harm of all forms. It is of such hurt and harm that the right to have rights came into being. Today claims to that same right continue to drive the transformation at the epicentre of the self constituting processes of peacemaking. Or viewed another way, the law of international human rights (itself born of international peacemaking process) is applicable to — and performative within —  these sui generis lawmaking processes.  Yet children and their rights are mostly invisible in the successive peace agreements that constitute such processes. The extremity of their invisibility sparked a critical and constructive probe of peace processes from a juristic, human rights and child rights perspective.  Having determined there was limited justification for this absence from the perspective of the law of peace(making), the probe shifted to interrogating why children are mostly invisible in peacemaking. 

Law of peace(making) and the promise of new beginning for children

Cross-posted courtesy of the Oxford Human Rights Hub (October 23, 2016).

The act of peacemaking may be viewed as the promise of a new beginning. It is latent within the sui generis legal form of the self-constituting process, and the often layered human rights transformation at its substantive epicentre. In the complex and evolving legality that constitutes peacemaking, international human rights claims often have heightened performativity. Or in other words, international human rights law (itself born of international peacemaking processes) is both applicable to, and performative within, the self constituting process of peacemaking. However, the layered human rights transformation is often partial: children and their rights are particularly likely to be invisible in the successive processes and agreements that constitute peacemaking. Yet, there is an international legal obligation to respect and ensure their rights ‘in’ and ‘through’ peacemaking,  as affirmed by the Committee on the Rights of the Child and underwritten by the Security Council. Further, as noted in an earlier posting,  peacemakers may for multifarious reasons — some principled, others political — commit to ‘transforming children’s rights as part of human rights’. So, why, then, are children mostly invisible in peacemaking?

Seizing 'the radical progressive potential of peace processes'* for children

The act of peacemaking may be viewed as the promise of ‘a new beginning’.  The promise is latent within the complex and evolving legality that binds the self-constituting process, and the often layered human rights transformation at its substantive epicentre. Therein, as illuminated and crystallised by Christine Bell, lies the ‘radical progressive potential of peace processes’.*  Like the progression of the process itself, it is made possible, at least partially, by legal and political imagination. The challenge is to seize this creativity to ensure children are part of this ‘new beginning’. Or in the words of George Bernard Shaw, it is about ‘dream[ing] things that never were and [...] say[ing] 'why not?'' The aim of these six principles, informed from a critical and constructive probe of peace processes from a juristic, human rights and child-rights perspective, is to support this act of legal and political imagination. 

The principles and related working paper are available here. *See 'Lex Pacificatoria: Marriage of Heaven and Hell' in On the Law of Peace at 300.

Posting cross-posted IntLawGrrls September 16, 2016.