Five reasons to constitute peacemaking processes with designated structural foci on children's rights

1. Children are mostly invisible in the successive processes and resultant agreements that constitute peacemaking. Its extremity is laid bare by a cursory review of collections of peace agreements.Of the close to eight hundred peace agreements in the United Nations database, ninety-five include a reference to children, for example.

2. Yet there is an international legal obligation to affirm children’s legal standing as subject of human rights and give effect to those rights in the successive processes and through the resultant agreements that constitute peacemaking, as reaffirmed by treaty and Charter bodies.

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

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.