Volume 1, Issue 8 (Originally Published 23 April 2012)
A wide range of topics and views were on display last week at the International Symposium on Peacekeeping in the Asia- Pacific: Gender Equality, Law and Collective Security, held at Melbourne Law School (MLS) on Thursday and Friday, 19 – 20 April 2012.
With around 23 speakers from across Australia and the globe, the symposium reflected a broad range of knowledge and experiences — academic, legal, military and non-governmental.
The Centre for Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London and the MLS Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law presented the symposium, while additional support came from the MLS, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the British Academy. MLS Professor Dianne Otto acted as co-convener with Dr Gina Heathcote from SOAS.
According to the event organisers, the symposium was the first scholarly Australian foray into the theme, coinciding the Australian Government’s launch of “the Australian National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2012-2018” on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2012.
The spectrum of topics included feminist perspectives on UN peacekeeping operations and the role of women in military and peace building operations.
And Friday’s plenary lecture “‘Networks of Hope’: Engaging Local Women’s Networks in Peacebuilding”, given by Australian National University Professor Hilary Charlesworth, whose talk focused on the prominent role of women in liberating East Timor, and the fight to gain a political voice in independent East Timor today.
University of Adelaide Professors Judith Gardam and Captain Dale Stephens concluded the symposium and provided high praise for the symposium, which was, in Stephens’ words, “a very engaging smorgasbord of views”. Professor Gardam also noted the symposium’s “diversity of speakers”.
Professor Otto said that she was impressed with the number of submissions the symposium received and the event’s attendance.
“We added three new presenters as of last Monday”, Otto said, noting that initial plans had been for a day-long symposium. “Now we have a day and a half of panels and talks”.
More information on the symposium, including abstracts and the program, are available on the MLS website.