'Walk[ing] the Halls of Power'? Understanding Women's Participation in International Peace and Security

Catherine O'Rourke

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The prioritisation of women’s participation in the Women, Peace and Security agenda inaugurated by Resolution 1325 has marked a watershed: feminist demands have been articulated in terms that have been accepted by the institutions and processes of international peace and security. Critiques, however, of the focus on participation — that either question the quality of the gains delivered, or the wisdom of prioritising participation in unreformed institutions — suggest a need for greater conceptual clarity around participation as an objective and outcome in feminist engagement with international peace and security. This article draws on arguments for women’s participation in feminist political theory in order to delineate five meanings of participation within the Women, Peace and Security Resolutions, namely: participation as the presence of role models; participation as representation; participation as deliberation; participation as inclusion; and participation as expertise. This article finds that the text of the Resolutions evidence erroneous interpretation and application of feminist arguments for participation, with the result that the Resolutions prioritise the advancement of a presumed set of ‘women’s interests’ in peace and security over the actual presence of women in peace and security decision-making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
JournalMelbourne Journal of International Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Jun 2014


  • Feminism
  • International Law
  • Women
  • Peace and Security
  • Participation


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