Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland: Putting Gender on the Agenda
Dr Catherine O’Rourke (Ulster)
This presentation outlines research findings that aim to constructively contribute to the vexed and halting debate in Northern Ireland about dealing with the past. It seeks to usefully reframe the debate by explaining how gender should be understood as a structural factor of conflict and resolution. The presentation draws on the speaker’s comparative study of gendered approaches to dealing with the past in Chile, Northern Ireland and Colombia, as well as pertinent international legal obligations (CEDAW, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325), to identify missed opportunities and future priorities for any process to deal with the past. International and comparative experience identifies the following potential contributions of a focus on gender to broader debates to deal with the past: firstly, a broader understanding of the harms caused by the conflict; secondly, an awareness of structural inequalities that gave rise to certain patterns of harm; thirdly, a focus on the importance of process; and finally, the eschewal of an individualistic and legalistic approach to dealing with the past. The presentation considers how international and comparative experience can inform relevant local policy and practice.