Sexual violence in armed conflict is a long-standing phenomenon. For millennia, it has proved to be one of the most powerful weapons of war and the one with arguably, the longest lasting and the most damaging impact on the victims and their communities. It continues to be used in modern armed conflicts as a cheap and powerful weapon.
The events of the past 6 months in particular, have put the topic of sexual violence in conflict back on the international agenda. On 24th June 2013, the UN Security Council issued Resolution 2106 on sexual violence in conflict. The Resolution reaffirms the previous landmark resolutions, such as UNSCR 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1960 (2010) and issues yet another call for the prevention of, and the end to, sexual violence in armed conflict and in post-conflict situations.
Earlier this year, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, adamantly announced that prevention of sexual violence in conflict is one of the key elements on the G8 agenda. To that end, during the meeting of G8 foreign ministers in London on 11th April, a Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict was adopted.
If one judged the advancements in addressing the problem of sexual violence by its presence in the media over the past few months, one may have concluded that a success has been achieved. However, in reality, this is merely the beginning. Whilst sexual violence has been put on an international as well as several national agendas, it continues to be used in armed conflict as well as in post-conflict situations. Recent reports from Syria and Tahrir Square are a sad reminder of the continuation of sexual violence in the contemporary world. Furthermore, there are aspects of this problem that continue to be silenced: sexual violence against boys and men remains underreported and unaddressed, domestic prosecutions of acts of sexual violence committed during armed conflict are rare, and so are the prosecutions of gender crimes at the ICC. Finally, the issue of reparations for gender-specific harms only recently has started to be considered.
Taking into consideration these and many more challenges to addressing and combatting sexual violence in conflict, the Research Network on Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict was established in order to research and explore these pressing issues.
We are a group of academics and policy advisors, whose work focuses on sexual and gender-based violence in armed conflict and in times of transition. The group members are:
Kate Adams (War Child)
Alison Bisset (University of Reading)
Christine Byron (Cardiff University)
Ross Clarke (Oxfam)
Rachel Hastie (Oxfam)
Olga Jurasz (Open University)
Solange Mouthaan (University of Warwick)
Daniela Nadj (University of Westminster)
IntLawGrrl Noelle Quenivet (University of the West of England)
Dawn Sedman (Oxford Brookes University)
In the next few months, we will be publishing on IntLawGrrls our comments on recent developments on sexual violence in armed conflict, share our research and disseminate information about upcoming events related to sexual violence in conflict.
On behalf of the group, I sincerely hope that you will enjoy reading our posts as well as contributing to this timely and important debate about sexual violence in armed conflict.