Sexual Violence, Process Theories of Negotiations and The Evolution of Human Security

Friday, December 4, 2009
Renee Black
Western Africa
Sierra Leone
Peacewomen Comment: 

This resource was submitted as part of the 1325+10 PeaceWomen initiative to compile a repository of papers dealing with a broad range of issues around the implementation of 1325, as part of the Women, Peace and Security: From Resolution to Action Geneva High-Level Consultation 15-16 September 2010, Geneva.

In the academic literature on peace negotiations, scholars have touched on issues of justice, but do not go far enough to understanding the interplay between conflict negotiations, human security and sustainable peace. In recent years, the particular issue of widespread systematic or opportunistic sexual violence has emerged as a concern in many conflict settings. What remains unclear is how negotiations processes have contributed to the exclusion of such issues during peace negotiations and how these exclusions impacted on prospects for sustainable peace. Even in international policy circles, in which widespread systematic or opportunistic sexual violence have increasing gained currency, debates have focused largely on prescriptive matters, but have largely ignored why these issues are omitted in the first place.

This paper explores two questions:

• Can an analysis of process approaches help us to understand how the negotiations in Sierra Leone began and evolved, and why two agreements failed both to consider sexual violence and end the conflict?
• Can realist and constructivist theories strengthen our understanding of both why these issues were ignored during negotiations in Sierra Leone and how this has changed over time?

This paper begins with a review of the conflict in Sierra Leone. Secondly, I analyze three process-related theories on negotiations: Stein's theory of pre-negotiations; Habeeb's treatment of behavior and tactics; and Putnam's two-level theory. Thirdly, I explore how shifts from a pre-cold war realist perception of security to a more constructivist conception can help explain how these issues were not considered and why they have
gained prominence more recently.

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Sexual Violence, Process Theories of Negotiations & The Evolution of Human Security