Nur Jahan of India by Shirin Yim Bridges,Albert Nguyen

By Shirin Yim Bridges,Albert Nguyen

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In each case, it is not that a gender norm overtly operates to produce these effects: practitioners do not necessarily see themselves as singling out “women and children” for protection. ” This enables actors to see themselves as operating in a genderneutral way – “protecting the innocent,” “prioritizing the most vulnerable” – while perpetuating a serious gender bias in the implementation of the norm. These findings are significant both for theory and policy. It is now well known how gender norms operate to constrain the opportunities and life chances available to women.

On the basis of existing law and discourse, I identify three key regime principles: the distinction principle, the immunity principle and the protection principle. I then discuss the specific ways in which gender interacts with these social ideas, and provide an explanation for how these ideas came to be so interrelated during the historical emergence of the laws of war. The immunity and protection principles are based on the idea that some people are incidental to armed conflict, as they do not participate directly in hostilities.

My case study on humanitarian action in the Balkans begins with a puzzle. If humanitarian protection workers know that adult men are most likely to be summarily executed when a town falls, why evacuate women, children and the elderly, but not adult males, from besieged enclaves? The analysis accounts for this seemingly irrational behavior by examining the pathways by which gender beliefs impacted evacuation operations. Writing on this topic previously, Adam Jones has suggested that humanitarian practitioners themselves subscribe to a “women and children first” norm.

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