, Volume 92, Number 2

Fionnuala Ní Aoláin
Recognizing the critique of sexual essentialism in the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, this article moves beyond this familiar narrative to address the narrowness of conflict frames that have to date been engaged by the WPS agenda. The events of 11 September 2001 brought new urgency and vibrancy to state action in the realm of counterterrorism. This momentum was illustrated both by the response of national legal systems and by more concerted efforts to achieve multilateral and multilevel counterterrorism cooperation on the international level. Notably, terrorism and counterterrorism have long been of only marginal interest to mainstream feminist legal theorists. Until recently concerted analytical feminist scrutiny has been missing in the assessment of terrorism, radicalism and counter terrorism discourses. This article addresses the lack of attention to terrorism, counterterrorism and countering violent extremism (CVE) initiatives in the WPS mandate and its consequences for mainstreaming gender interests in foundational aspects of peace and security practice. Recent normative augmentations including UNSCR 2242 and the amplified mandate of the Counter-Terrorism Committee to include gender considerations are assessed. The article argues that these moves to include gender come late, and on the terms set by security-minded states. The late attention to gender in counterterrorism leaves little capacity to produce an inclusive and reimagined feminist agenda addressing the causes conducive to the production of terrorism and the costs to women of counterterrorism strategies. This pessimistic assessment warns of the pitfalls of exclusion and inclusion in the new security regimes that have been fashioned post 9/11 by states.

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