The dialogue of difference: gender perspectives on international humanitarian law

This article examines the meaning and potential usefulness of a 'gender perspective' on international humanitarian law (IHL). In order to do so, it considers a number of 'gendered' themes found within IHL, including the role of women as combatants, and the gendered use of sexual violence during times of armed conflict. The authors suggest that further development and understanding of a gender perspective will contribute to the resilience and effectiveness of IHL as a system of law, and will strengthen the protection of those who are victimized and disempowered during times of war.

About the authors

Katie O'Byrne

Katie O’Byrne is a solicitor at Freehills in Melbourne and a former assistant legal officer at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Dr Helen Durham
Director of International Law and Policy

Helen Durham has been Director of International Law and Policy at the ICRC since 2014. She has over 20 years experience in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Helen has been a Legal Adviser to the ICRC Delegation of the Pacific; Head of Office for ICRC Australia and in various roles with Australian Red Cross including Director of International Law and Strategy and National Manager of IHL. Helen has a PhD in IHL and international criminal law, is a Senior Fellow at Melbourne Law School and worked as the Director of Research at the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law. She has done missions in the field with ICRC including Myanmar, Aceh, the Philippines and has been involved in international legal negotiations in New York, Rome and Geneva.