Conflict-related sexual violence - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2016/361) [EN/AR]
The present report, which covers the period from January to December 2015, is submitted pursuant to paragraph 22 of Security Council resolution 2106 (2013), in which the Council requested me to report annually on the implementation of resolutions 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009) and 1960 (2010), and to recommend strategic actions. Developments during the reporting period have deepened concerns about the use of sexual violence by terrorist and violent extremist groups, including as part of the systems of punishment and reward through which they consolidate their power. In resolution 2242 (2015), the Council recognized the changing global context of peace and security, in particular the gender dimensions of violent extremism and mass displacement. The Council’s recognition of sexual violence as both a tactic of war and a tactic of terrorism (resolution 2242 (2015)) affirms that conflict-resolution and counter-terrorism strategies can no longer be decoupled from efforts to protect and empower women and girls and to combat conflict-related sexual violence.
The term “conflict-related sexual violence” refers to rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, enforced sterilization, forced marriage and any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity perpetrated against women, men, girls or boys that is directly or indirectly linked (temporally, geographically or causally) to a conflict. This link with conflict may be evident in the profile of the perpetrator (often affiliated with a State or non-State armed group), the profile of the victim (who is frequently a member of a persecuted political, ethnic or religious minority), the climate of impunity (which is generally associated with State collapse), cross-border consequences (such as displacement or trafficking in persons) and/or violations of the terms of a ceasefire agreement.
While many settings are affected by the threat, occurrence or legacy of conflict-related sexual violence, the present report is focused on 19 country situations for which credible information is available. For the first time, United Nations country presences were requested to report on the use of sexual violence as a tactic of terrorism (see sect. III). The report should be read in conjunction with my seven previous reports on conflict-related sexual violence, which provide a cumulative basis for the listing of 48 parties (see annex). As in 2014, the majority of listed parties are non-State actors. Engaging with such groups to foster compliance with Security Council resolutions raises unprecedented political and operational challenges. All States repeatedly listed for grave violations against children and/or conflict-related sexual violence will be prohibited from participating in United Nations peace operations. Troop and police contributors that are currently listed for such violations are required to engage with my special representatives in order to be delisted and to implement specific time-bound commitments and action plans to address violations for which they are listed (see resolution 2242 (2015) and S/2015/682).
The report is based on cases documented by the United Nations. The increased presence in the field of women’s protection advisers, who are responsible for convening the monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements on conflict-related sexual violence and facilitating dialogue in order to obtain protection commitments from parties to conflict, has deepened the quality of the data and analysis aimed at informing interventions. To date, 34 women’s protection advisers have been deployed to seven mission settings. All six peacekeeping missions with a mandate that includes the protection of civilians have established the monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements and incorporated the matrix of early-warning indicators of conflict-related sexual violence into their broader protection arrangements. A concerted effort to enhance prevention, early warning and timely responses to conflict-related sexual violence will continue to require dedicated human and financial resources commensurate with the scale of this challenge.
Strengthening the capacity of national institutions is critical to ensuring accountability for conflict-related sexual violence. The Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict, in accordance with its mandate under Security Council resolution 1888 (2009), has provided assistance to Governments, including in the areas of criminal investigation and prosecution, military justice, legislative reform, protection of victims and witnesses and reparations for survivors. Reporting directly to my Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, the Team of Experts is composed of experts from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and a specialist seconded by the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Team also maintains a roster of experts with a range of specializations. Since its establishment, the Team has played a catalytic role in implementing the frameworks of cooperation agreed upon between my Special Representative and national authorities and regional actors, complementing the work of the United Nations country presence. With dedicated assistance, Governments can effectively adjudicate such crimes, as in the case of Guinea, where the technical assistance of the Team has resulted in 16 indictments of military and political leaders for sexual violence and other crimes committed in September 2009. The Team, by virtue of its structure and composition, has contributed to enhanced coherence on the issue of conflict-related sexual violence among the entities constituting it. To date, the Team has been engaged in the Central African Republic, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Somalia and South Sudan.
The United Nations Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict initiative, which consists of 13 United Nations entities and is chaired by my Special Representative, supports the development of training, guidance and advocacy resources aimed at building the technical capacity of United Nations country presences to deliver a coordinated and holistic response to conflict-related sexual violence. In 2015, it provided catalytic funding for the deployment of women’s protection advisers to Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, supported a mapping of interventions to implement the national strategy to combat gender-based violence in Côte d’Ivoire and funded a joint project in Bosnia and Herzegovina supporting transitional justice. A number of tools and knowledge products were produced to improve practice in the field, including guidance on strengthening the medico-legal response to sexual violence in conflict, developed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Health Organization (WHO); a guidance note on the intersections between the Gender-based Violence Information Management System and the monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements, prepared by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); and a menu of country-level support options. Joint technical support missions were conducted to Mali in January and South Sudan in April. In 2015, through the joint roster of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Justice Rapid Response of international investigators of crimes involving sexual and gender-based violence, some 30 experts were deployed to accountability mechanisms, including the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, the commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea, the fact-finding missions to Iraq and Libya, and the national war crimes processes. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support, in collaboration with a range of partners, developed a new conflict-related sexual violence training module for core and advanced-level predeployment training, in addition to advanced-level integrated mission training for military, police and civilian components.