Prof. Ní Aoláin Named Consultant on U.N. Study on Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence
JULY 25, 2011—Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin has been selected to be a consultant on a study commissioned by U.N. Women and the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, entitled "Reparations for Conflict-related Sexual Violence." She is concurrently the Dorsey & Whitney professor at the Law School and a professor, co-founder, and associate director of the Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The goal of the U.N. study is to ensure best practices in transitional justice processes to deliver reparations in conflicted and post-conflict societies. Consultants are asked to build on existing U.N. normative frameworks and operational guidelines to outline a legal framework for the right of victims of human rights and international humanitarian law violations to receive reparations.
Consultants’ responsibilities involve reviewing current U.N. policy, reports, and evaluations on reparations for conflict-related sexual violence; reviewing court, state, and other program practices to date regarding reparations; and analyzing the roles and responsibilities of the various states involved.
Many women who endure the physical and mental effects of human rights violations also suffer from the stigma attached in some societies. Rejected by families and communities, they are left in social isolation and extreme poverty. Reparations can provide important recognition that victims were wronged in addition to concrete assistance, such as help obtaining medical treatment.
"For women in particular, reparations programmes can provide acknowledgement of their rights as equal citizens, a measure of justice, as well as crucial resources of recovery," said U.N. Women’s Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri at a May 2011 panel discussion on justice for women in post-conflict states.
U.N. Women, headquartered in New York, was created by the U.N. General Assembly in July 2010 to enhance progress toward the U.N. goals of gender equality and empowerment of women. Its primary roles are to support formulation of policies, standards, and norms among intergovernmental bodies; to help member states implement these standards by providing technical and financial assistance when needed; and to monitor progress and hold the U.N. system accountable for its commitments to gender equality.
Ní Aoláin has been an active supporter of human rights and women's rights throughout her career. She has served as a special expert on promoting gender equality in times of conflict and peace-making at the invitation of the U.N. Secretary-General and as an expert participant in discussions on protecting human rights organized by a U.N. Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force working group. Her latest book, On the Frontlines: Gender, War, and the Post-Conflict Process, co-authored with Dina Francesca Haynes and Naomi Cahn, discusses whether recent attention to issues of sexual violence and discrimination in the peace-making process has improved the lives of women in post-conflict states who have suffered the consequences of violence and gender oppression. On the Frontlines is scheduled for release by Oxford University Press in October.