Inside the Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict

By Marina Kumskova


Zainab Bangura (the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict) and Lisa Davis (of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security) (Photo: UN)

On 2 June, 2016, under the French presidency, the Security Council held a ministerial-level open debate under the theme, "Women, Peace and Security: Responding to human trafficking in situations of conflict-related sexual violence." Noting that sexual violence is increasingly evolving from a tactic of war to one of terrorism, participants highlighted the growing use by terrorist and extremist organisations of sexual violence to control and intimidate communities, recruit and maintain fighters and force people from their homes.

WILPF/PeaceWomen, along with other members of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, supported the civil society statement presented by Lisa Davis of MADRE. Davis noted that gender-based violence is perpetrated by both combatants and non-combatants, including intimate partners, family members, state agents, and civilians and humanitarian aid staff; further, gender-based violence is part of a continuum of violence across societies, in which gender inequality is the societal and legislative norm. “We cannot emphasize enough the urgent need to curb the flow of guns and other weapons, which exacerbate levels of sexual and gender based violence,” she stated.

Conflict-related sexual violence often occurs in situations where there is systemic gender-based discrimination, such as the exclusion of women from political life, economic marginalisation and discriminatory systems of both formal and informal law. Oppressive gender narratives including violent masculinities further perpetuate multiple forms of violence. In this vein, speakers often expressed that conflict resolution, counter-terrorism strategies and post-conflict development cannot be separated from efforts to protect and empower women and girls.

For a more detailed analysis of the ministerial-level open debate, please visit our United Nations Security Council Open Debate Watch page.