International law’s affirmation of everyone’s right to have rights came into being through a peacemaking process. Its deprivation continues to typify the emergent context that brings peace processes into being — and for some cohorts of the people, namely children, the process itself. The right is intuitively seductive. It resonates as self-evident: an inexorable abstraction of having rights. Yet it is also enigmatic and challenging to concretise. What is its content? What substantive rights are expressive of this right? What is their scope in peacemaking? And why is it — above for example more corporeal rights — so fundamental? Guided by these questions, the paper begins by reflecting on the right as crystallised by Hannah Arendt: it then shifts to reflecting on, first, its expression in international law and, second, its interrelations with the law of peace. In doing so, it yields legal and political opportunities for ensuring the right in peacemaking, and imagines a framework of evolving measures for bringing the right to life in the staged process. The paper concludes by arguing renewed engagement with this understated right offers a beacon for guiding responses to the complex child rights challenges yielded by peacemaking — and our interdependent and fragile twenty-first century world more generally.
International law’s affirmation of the right to have rights, as crystallised by Hannah Arendt, came into being through a peacemaking process. 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 human rights over others that typifies our world. As feminist scholars, have noted women’s right to have rights is typically under qualified, eclipsed by bodily and sexualised harm and subject to pacification. Rather than justified from the perspective of the law of peace, the staged findings of a study on the Law of Peace and Children’s Human Rights (and a related paper on Children’s Right to have Rights) suggest this is mostly revealing of broader subjugation. The paper aims to present the study’s findings on the interrelations between the laws of peace and international human rights generally, and illustrate its resonance for qualifying women’s right to have rights in peacemaking. In doing so it offers arguments for emphasising women’s right for their presence and agency to be qualified in peacemaking, and redressing gender stereotypes interwoven within existing dictates on women, peace and security. In conclusion, it reflects on its significance for safeguarding women’s right to have rights more generally into the future.