Emory Report
April 14, 2008
Volume 60, Number 27


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April 14, 2008
Gender violence threatens Liberia’s rule of law

By Casey Dunning

Throughout much of post-conflict Liberia, gender-based violence threatens to subvert rule of law and has become a serious obstacle to The Carter Center’s “Strengthening the Rule of Law and Combating Impunity” project.

After several months of discussion on this issue between Emory’s Institute for Developing Nations (IDN) and The Carter Center’s Conflict Resolution Program, IDN formed a Working Group on Gender Violence in Liberia to identify ways in which research might provide information that would help inform practice and policy designed to reduce gender-based violence. The Working Group included Emory faculty and staff, Carter Center staff, and outside experts who spent spring break in Liberia exploring the intersection of gender violence and rule of law.

True to its commitment to undertake multi-disciplinary research in partnership with local scholars and experts, the IDN working group consisted of faculty from law, women’s studies, African studies, political science, and anthropology in partnership with social science and law faculty from the University of Liberia as well as Liberian and international nongovernmental organizations. The working group met with various organizations in Liberia including the Ministries of Gender and Justice, the United Nation Mission in Liberia’s Gender Office, the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia, and the Bong Youth Association.

The group spent three days in Monrovia and then traveled to rural Bong County so that it might be aware of a multitude of perspectives and attitudes. A seminar at the University of Liberia on possible research interventions that might address gender-based violence practice and policy concluded the group’s time in Liberia.

Pewee Flomoku, “Rule of Law” coordinator at The Carter Center’s Monrovia office, described the week as a “great success,” noting that “having the working group in Liberia allowed The Carter Center to have new kinds of conversations that have prompted new ways of thinking about gender-based violence.”

In taking a multi-disciplinary approach to research on gender violence as it relates to rule of law, the IDN has initiated a model of collaborative research that will also provide substantive support to the current work of The Carter Center in Liberia.

IDN Director Sita Ranchod-Nilsson sees this kind of working group as a way to encourage Emory faculty and graduate students to engage in action-oriented research.

A working paper on gender-based violence and related research will be available by the end of the semester, to be followed by a two-day workshop in Atlanta that will be organized by IDN in cooperation with The Carter Center.