This article proposes an engaged analysis of the impact that armed conflicts have on women and the diverse roles that women might conceivably play in peacemaking. Recalling the original theories of international law, the article recounts how historical chronicles and modern Western authors have depicted women in wartime. Primarily portrayed as victims of brutalization and sexual violence, women have been confined to the private realm and, thus, excluded from the decision-making processes of war and peace. This research argues that the same exclusion has been reflected in the international law instruments that have reinforced the paradigm of women as mainstays of family honor, rather than as holders of personal rights. Depicted as mere victims in need of protection, like children, women have been deprived of any agency for peace. This article identifies the turning point of the indictments issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda acknowledging rape and sexual violence against women in wartime as human rights violations. As a consequence of their new status as right holders under United Nations Resolution 1325, women have finally been accorded the important role of agents in the prevention and resolution of conflicts as well as in the promotion and maintenance of an enduring peace. Nevertheless, despite the exemplary endeavors of women for peace in Liberia and Sierra Leone, which ultimately led to the creation of the regional women's peace movement Mano River Union Women Peace Network, this article contends that women remain secluded from the decision-making tables in war and in peace. Although they have managed to attain consideration from their own governments and the international community, women's demands have remained largely neglected at negotiation tables and in peace agreements. This same analysis offers insights into the lessons drawn from historic women's struggles, thus honoring the ultimate quest for true change and an enduring peace in the global community.
10 Geo. J. of Gender and the Law 37 (2009)