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Queerly Legal

Please note that we cannot provide legal services in areas of work reserved under the Lawyers and Attendants Act 2006. In 1945, after the devastation of the two world wars, the “peoples” of the United Nations (UN) dreamed of a peaceful world. They pledged to “live together in peace as good neighbors.” Footnote 7 But peace was not defined. Of the forty-five references to peace in the essential articles of the UN Charter, most were associated with “security”, reflecting the main purpose of the UN, “the maintenance of international peace and security”. Footnote 8 This linkage indicates that peace depends on (state) security. Despite the mandatory nature of the prohibition of the use of force, the central role assigned to the Security Council makes it clear that the dominant vision of peace in the Charter of the United Nations is based on military force and documented States. The five permanent members of the Security Council (P5) are all armed with nuclear weapons and are among the world`s largest arms exporters. Footnote 9 Given that the Council has virtually unlimited powers to identify threats to peace and then take the necessary measures to respond to those threats, footnote 10 normalizes the realistic view that aggression in international relations can only be deterred or controlled by the threat or use of military counter-force. Peace is understood to depend on military power and dependent on a militarized world order – or, as queer political philosopher Judith Butler describes it, peace is conceived through the “framework of war.” Footnote 11 This is a top-down view of a forced peace, shaped primarily by the geopolitical interests of the P5. Giorgio Agamben`s notion of “naked life” – human life deprived of its legal status and rights by sovereign power Footnote 12 – it is “naked peace,” which treats most lives, human and non-human, as expendable or “inexorable” Footnote 13 in matters of state security. It follows that the reorientation of peace requires a new post-national understanding of our global obligations to each other and to the natural world, and a new idea of the equality associated with these commitments.

As Butler puts it, the idea of global bonds is “as far removed from the neoliberal consecration of individualism as it could be.” Footnote 33 In other words, thinking of peace as a set of relational bonds that give and sustain life involves not only rethinking statehood, but also “transforming the very sense of personality” Footnote 34 of individuals autonomous to social anchoring and connection. Equality must also be rethought in relational terms and not as a comparison between individuals or states. Footnote 35 We are inseparable from living conditions that make some lives more livable/grieving than others, and if we are all “connected”, then no life can be worth living while other lives remain precarious. Footnote 36 Dreams of queer peace Imagine a world without the structural violence that impoverishes, weakens and disempowers so many people and threatens the planetary systems of life. This violence supports the same male-heteronormative neoliberal elites who profit from today`s endless armed conflicts. Queering Peace demands transforming the assumptions of the Human and Human Networking Act, breaking the loyalties demanded by the nation-state, and working to nourish life rather than pave the way for its destruction. If you require legal services in a dedicated workspace, we will refer you to another practitioner. But how is “naked peace” acceptable in the notion of international law? This is where the foundation of neocolonial, racialized, gendered – and heteronormative – analytical tropes come into play. Notions of Western superiority and non-Western backwardness deeply rooted in international law rely heavily on right-wing heteronormative rhetoric, as Ruskola argues Footnote 14, which aims to make militarism a “masculine” activity. The legitimizing power of heteronormative tropes is evident in everyday military parlance, as political scientist Carol Cohn discovered when she participated in a training exercise with U.S.

military analysts. Military determination was endorsed as a measure of male masculinity, and humanitarian concerns about the destruction of civilian food and energy systems were downgraded as “wimp.” Footnote 15 In this way, heteronormative gender and sexuality scripts work to normalize existing power hierarchies, combined with other basic organizing principles such as empire, nation, race, and class, simple peacemaking, and their gun economy seem to be “common sense.” All of these critical perspectives are shaped by stories of subjugation, exclusion, dispossession and marginalization. They share a kind of gift of knowing that the unequal status quo of international law is not inevitable. They also share the urgency of questioning the framework of justification that has normalized experiences of oppression, which has been based on various types of civilizational mission, terra nullius, preservation of the social fabric, free trade and progress, protection of the family, rescue of women from backward cultures, fight against terrorism, defense of sovereignty, etc. Many of these justifications have explicitly found their way into the legal argument. Queer methods aim to disrupt the foundations of discipline, expose its normalizing rhetoric of power, and promote change – without threat or use of weapons or military.


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