International law’s affirmation of the right to have rights, as crystallised by Hannah Arendt, came into being through international peacemaking processes. Its deprivation continues to typify the emergent context that brings peace processes into being, drive the competing claims that forge the imperative of peacemaking and instantiate the layered human rights transformation at their substantive epicentre. 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 only partially qualified. Is this 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 shifting to reflecting on its expression in, first, international law, and second, the law of peace. It concludes by offering a loose framework for critically and constructively assessing peace processes from an 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 also the vulnerability creating effects of ‘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.