International law’s affirmation of the right to have rights, as crystallised by Hannah Arendt, came into being through international peacemaking processes. There is a concomitant obligation on states to affirm everyone’s rights to have rights in (and through) their law-based organising frameworks. It is this extremity of rights deprivation that typifies the emergent context that brings peace processes into being. The right to have rights continues to have deep interrelations with peacemaking: it drives the juristic and layered human rights transformation at the substantive epicentre of peacemaking. Yet peace processes transform and silence. In doing so they reinforce the privileging of selected subjects of rights over others that typifies our world: women’s right to have rights for example is often trebly negated: partially fulfilled, if at all; eclipsed by bodily and sexualised harm; and subject to pacification. Is it justified from the perspective of the pursuance of peace? Or revealing of broader subjugation? The paper aims to interrogate these questions by distilling and clarifying the right to have rights in the context of peacemaking. It begins by reflecting on the right as crystallised by Hannah Arendt before shifts to reflecting on the its expression in, first, international law, and second, the law of peace(making). It concludes by offering a loose framework of principles for critically and constructively assessing peace process from international human rights perspective.
International law’s affirmation of a right to have rights, as crystallised by Hannah Arendt, came into being through international peacemaking processes. The deprivation of this fundamental right continues to typify the emergent context that brings peace processes into being, and for some cohorts of the people, namely children, the process itself. As argued in a related probe, the extremity of children’s invisibility in peacemaking, may be viewed as expressive of the deprivation of that right and the vulnerability creating effects ‘unqualified, mere existence in the public sphere’. The right is intuitively coherent yet also enigmatic. What is its content and scope? What rights are expressive of this right? And why is it — above for example more corporeal rights — so fundamental? The aim of the paper is to distill and clarify children’s right to have rights in the context of peacemaking. In doing so it reflects on these questions, and concludes by offering a two step process for giving effect to children’s rights in the successive processes that constitute peacemaking.
Flickr Picture, Chris Linag.
International law's affirmation of human rights, itself born of peacemaking, is grounded on the dignity and worth of each member of the human family. The law as developed is applicable to the emergent context that forges the imperative for peacemaking, and the process itself. There is thus an international legal obligation to affirm children’s standing as subjects of human rights in the successive processes that constitute peacemaking and give effect to the same in and through the resultant agreements, as recalled by Charter and treaty bodies. Yet children and their rights are mostly invisible in peacemaking. Its extremity, as laid bare by a cursory review of collections of peace agreements, raises a multiplicity of questions. Is it justified from the perspective of the law of peace(making)? May children’s rights yield to the pursuance of peace? If not, why are children mostly invisible in peacemaking? And how might children’s invisibility be transformed? These questions reflect the aims of the book. It is therefore critical and constructive. Of necessity the book begins by seeking to establish the juristic and human rights context, however. What brings peace processes into being? What law regulates the process? What rights are applicable? And how, if at all, are they accommodated to the context? Interrogating the context in this way provides a framework for interrogating the book’s core questions. It concludes by yielding six overlapping legal and political opportunities for ensuring peace processes are constitutive of children's rights, and a two step process for transforming their invisibility.
OHCHR Picture, Eiza Abid (15), Secondary Global Winner of the Children's Poster Competition organised by the Office of High Commission for Human Rights to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the two Covenants.