Concept Note 2021

ICWRP 2021


“Comfort Women”, Women’s Rights, Peace and Solidarity

The 2021 International Conference on Women’s Rights and Peace (ICWRP) will be hosted in Seoul, with a subtitle, ‘“comfort women” lead waves in justice and peace’. This year is the 30th year of Hak Sun Kim’s testimony on the forced recruitment of “comfort women” by the Japanese Military, on which the Japanese government denied its responsibility and the Korean government remained silent. Since her testimony, the voices of the survivors of the Japan’s Military sexual slavery congregated as one and made a wave for justice and peace from women’s perspective. They also got connected to the global movement for peace and women’s rights, by intersecting with the historical events such as the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna and the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing 1995. In 2021, the International Conference on Women’s Rights and Peace (ICWRP) will continue to augment this solidarity for justice and peace.

Day 1

Day for Justice

The main theme of Day 1 of the Conference, ‘the Day for Justice’, is to review the achievements and challenges of the justice movements for the “comfort women” and questions the meaning of legal justice from women’s rights perspectives. In the first plenary session, the speakers will analyse two contradictory court decisions regarding the state immunity and Japan’s civil responsibility to redress the survivors of the Japan’s military sexual slavery system. They also explore alternative frameworks to address conflict-related sexual violence beyond (patriarchal) legalism that permeates the international law. The second plenary session sheds light on women’s global solidarity to lead women’s and people’s tribunal movements as one way to overcome such limitation in the judicial system.

Day 2

Day for Peace

The second day of the Conference aims to widen the perspectives on the “comfort women” issue and feminist peace by intersecting the historical issue with contemporary discourses on peace and women’s rights. A particular attention is devoted to the question how, by studying the “comfort women” issue, feminist perspectives question the meaning of state, war, and peace and contribute to designing alternative peace frameworks. In addition, how to deliver peace and history education on the “comfort women” issue is also an issue of concern. In the third plenary session, the invited speakers will develop their critical perspectives to reveal how war (forcibly) mobilises women and peace has forgotten war experiences of women. In the final session, discussions will be centred around women’s practices that challenge gendered social orders, which creates the environment where conflict-related sexual violence issues are distorted and ignored, like backlash against the “comfort women” issue, and enslave women of domination and exploitation.