Bond University

Article Title

Integrating Questions of Gender into Discussion of the Use of Force in the International Law Curriculum


Occupying the heartland of international law are rules which profess to regulate, and thereby restrain, violence between states. The normative regime governing violence between states consists of three categories of law: first, laws outlawing the use of force by states unilaterally, except in narrow circumstances like self defence; second, laws which establish the acceptable methods of combat; and third, the body of humanitarian law designed to protect certain categories of war victims. These laws have sanctioned the use of increasingly destructive means of war and have failed to provide significant protection to civilians. In fact the percentage of civilian, as opposed to military, casualties of war has progressively increased since the first World War reaching the alarming current level of 90 per cent. Such an extraordinary outcome results from legally authorised acceptance that military goals have priority over humanitarian considerations. In this note I will first outline the shortcomings of the international legal approach to violence and its repercussions for women; and second, discuss some implications this has for the teaching of international law.