Developing and improving the law’s effectiveness in meeting emerging global needs

The Law, Governance and Global Change Program takes a broad view of the international law (public, private, transnational) in exploring global change.

One of the defining features of the 21st Century has been the speed of global change and the globalisation of formerly state-based and regulated activities. Improvements in transportation, the ongoing expansion and improvement in digital technologies, the migration of those affected by poverty, war and climate change, the continued intermingling of financial markets and fiscal policies, and a consequential proliferation in the movement of ideas, money, goods, pests and people across borders has created a range of unprecedented problems that require urgent attention and long­term legal and governance mechanisms.

Researchers in this Program look at the ways in which the law might be reconfigured and integrated with ethical, political and economic imperatives to deal with cross-jurisdictional change, including those driven within national jurisdictions. The Program takes a humanistic approach that incorporates cultural perspectives and jurisprudential methods. Researchers aim to provide a resource for the development of integrity-based governance through research and capacity building. The Program highlights the values of integrity that should inform the emerging global order.

Research under this Program will link to research within other Griffith research centres and institutions, including the Griffith Criminology Institute and the Centre for Governance and Public Policy and will build on activities such as the Global Integrity Summit.

Exploring Law, Governance and Global Change

Law Futures Centre: Susan Harris Rimmer

Trading women's rights in transitions

ARC Futures Fellowship 2015–2019

Is the status of women a tradable commodity (a silent bargaining chip) during political transitions? If so, who trades what, when and why?

Transition means moving from war to peace, economic disruption or changing one system of government/leadership to another. One of the key means by which this occurs is the diplomatic process, of bargaining, compromising, settlement or trading. There is, however, a danger that in order to secure political objectives or preferences, negotiators may ‘trade away’ the interests of vulnerable or emerging social forces, sometimes knowingly, more often without due appreciation of the interests under threat.

This book examines the gender politics of transitions.  I examine the link between negotiation processes around the globe; and outcomes for social groups who struggle to gain access to power, focussing on the rights of women and girls. This book is about how women’s rights are traded away by negotiators directly in exchange for immediate political or other settlements, and indirectly in terms of being left off the international agenda with long-term consequences. The struggle between actors in reformist groups can also trade away women’s rights before the agenda with international actors is agreed. But this research looks beyond the formal negotiating table and agreed international law to other spaces where 'trades' can take place, such as personal status laws, 'ordinary' crimes, economic governance and institutional design.

The aim is to assess ideas and discourse about the ‘tradeability’ of a group’s rights in states experiencing a seismic transition, such as in Afghanistan or Myanmar.  What does diplomacy look like ‘from below’ in these situations?  This book compiles evidence from around the globe, including Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria, Timor Leste, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Philippines.

This book has the potential to expand the horizons of international and domestic actors by alerting them to key groups whose concerns in peacemaking diplomacy might otherwise be overlooked. In doing so, it not only enhances the prospects that settlements in which the international community has been involved will prove sustainable, but also shows way in which the practice of modern diplomacy can be transformed.

The book might also prove valuable to activists as well, as it can alert them as to what kinds of ‘traps’ to avoid so that women’s rights are not traded away in their context.

The study’s normative recommendation is that international actors ought to develop a habit of sociocultural analysis and commit to a new principle of ‘institutional design’ so as to ‘do no harm’ to particular vulnerable or emerging sociocultural groups that may not have loud voices.

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