9 Chi.-Kent J. Int'l & Comp. L. 1 (2009)

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                         UNLIKELY BEDFELLOWS:
         FEMINIST THEORY AND THE WAR ON TERROR

                             by Rachael   Lorna  Johnstone*

                                       ABSTRACT

The contemporary  threat of international terrorism has prompted states and scholars to reassess
the public/private divide as it manifests in international law with particular regard to the
principles of state responsibility. Much of the counter-terrorism debate reflects the feminist
literature on international law published over the last two decades. This paper exposes striking
similarities between the counter-terrorism arguments and those of feminist scholars. In both
cases, the classical dichotomy between public and private spheres is challenged and states are
called to be  accountable  for the unlawful  conduct  of non-state actors. Nonetheless, the
public/private dichotomy remains  at the heart of counter-terrorism strategies as well as the
broader regimes  of international law. Examples discussed in the conclusion include the non-
recognition of enemy combatants as state organs or agents; privatization of military and non-
military operations during the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq; the privatization of gender
discrimination in state (re-)building; and reinforcement of gender stereotypes and women's
private roles in the War  on  Terror. While the  proponents of counter-terrorism leverage
arguments  against the public-private dichotomy in their favor, the similarities between the two
positions end where the anti-terrorist position ultimately returns to the dichotomy and reinforces
it in order to uphold state interests, effectively turning its back on women's rights.

















Rachael Loma  Johnstone is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Akureyri, Iceland where she has been
based since 2003. She has studied at the University of Glasgow (LL.B. (Hons), 1999), the European Academy of
Legal Theory, Brussels (LL.M., 2000) and the University of Toronto (S.J.D., 2004). She would like to thank
Margr6t Henreksd6ttir, Kenneth Dorter, Garrett Barden and Giorgio Baruchello for comments on earlier drafts of
this paper. All errors are the author's own.


9 Chi-Kent J. Int'l & Comp. L. 1

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