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Governing Sexual Violence at the Foreign Office

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Alcuin Research Resources Centre

ARC/014

University of York

York

YO10 5DD

United Kingdom

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Talk Abstract

Since the launch of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) in May 2012, the United Kingdom has positioned itself as a global champion for the eradication of wartime sexual violence. Through diplomatic pressure, United Nations Security Council resolutions, expanded funding, the development of international guidelines, expert training and deployments, and wide public engagement, the UK (and in particular then-Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie) has concentrated attention on the issue, and become a major actor in the international Women, Peace and Security agenda in the process. I examine the PSVI as an exercise in governing in three senses: first, as a set of techniques for controlling and regulating the war zone. Whilst there is some evidence to support the claim that the PSVI is part of a wider move to 'securitise' sexual violence, I contrast this security logic to the PSVI's parallel embrace of liberal world order thinking, and in particular its endorsement of international legal mechanisms. Second, I explore how PSVI governs by shaping the regime of expertise about wartime sexual violence. Through its International Protocol on Documentation and Investigation and its consistent recognition of sexual violence against men and boys, the PSVI has partially reformed what sexual violence is understood to be in the sphere of global governance. Third, I show how the PSVI has also re-articulated the conceptual border between wartime and peacetime sexual violence, traceable most clearly in the gap between its foreign and domestic policy approaches. Although I conclude that the PSVI is a more fragmented and contingent policy than is usually supposed, the different aspects of the Initiative also have implications for critical and feminist security studies, and for the global politics of gender security to come.

Speaker

Dr Paul Kirby is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Women, Peace and Security at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Lecturer in International Security at the University of Sussex. His research focuses predominantly on theories of wartime sexual violence and he has published articles on these issues in the European Journal of International Relations and Men and Masculinities, and on policy responses to conflict-related sexual violence in International Affairs and the International Feminist Journal of Politics. He is the author most recently of ‘The Futures Past of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda’ (with Laura J. Shepherd) inInternational Affairs, Vol. 92, No. 2, part of a special issue marking 15 years since the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. He also has an article forthcoming on science fiction and pop cultural analysis in International Studies Review. Paul blogs at http://thedisorderofthings.com and is on Twitter as @ProfPCK.

Directions and parking

Please see the University campus map for the location of ARC/014 which is in the Alcuin Research Resource Centre. The building is opposite the Alcuin Teaching Block (Seebohm Rowntree Building) reception. The room is on the ground floor at the far end from the main entrance, around the corner, behind the lift. It is just a short walk to the Alcuin Research Resource Centre from Campus North car park and it is well sign posted. Parking costs £1 per hour and you can pay using coins or via a mobile phone via the RingGo parking. For information on public transport to the University please see the Travel and Transport webpages.

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Date and Time

Location

Alcuin Research Resources Centre

ARC/014

University of York

York

YO10 5DD

United Kingdom

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