Sticking to Their Guns: The United Nations’ Failure to See the Potential of Islamic Feminism in the Promotion of Women’s Rights in Afghanistan

in The Asian Yearbook of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
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Abstract

In recent years, peace and justice processes in post-conflict countries have turned into an industry of their own. With a variety of actors, norms and processes involved, the fields have not only expanded as areas of practice, but also attracted considerable attention amongst scholars. Whilst the role of the international community in post-conflict States, particularly as part of peace and justice processes, has been subject of much scholarly debate, this article focuses on international actors’ attempts at advancing women’s rights in predominantly Muslim post-conflict countries. It discusses the reluctance of the most significant international actor in a variety of post-conflict processes, namely the United Nations, to engage more closely with contextualised bottom-up approaches to women’s rights advocacy under its Women, Peace and Security agenda. The article focuses specifically on the United Nations’ failure to see the potential of Islamic feminism in post-conflict Afghanistan as an alternative to its hitherto strategy of grounding women’s rights in Western liberal conceptions of ‘universal’ human rights. It argues for a more contextual approach to women’s rights advocacy by the United Nations that allows for the possibility of including non-hegemonic rights discourses as well as granting more attention to local bottom-up approaches.

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