International humanitarian law (IHL) prohibits all forms of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict, whether international (IAC) or non-international (NIAC). Serious violations of IHL, including acts of sexual violence, constitute war crimes. To end impunity, it is important that states can investigate and prosecute serious violations of IHL, including acts of sexual violence, under domestic law. Sexual violence is also prohibited by other bodies of international law, including international human rights law (IHRL) and international criminal law (ICL).
This checklist is a resource for legal experts of states and within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and supports the domestic implementation of IHL rules prohibiting sexual violence. It also sets out the provisions of IHRL and ICL of complementary relevance, as well as a selection of other sources of law and policy that may, depending on the context, inform domestic frameworks governing sexual violence. It can be used by legal experts in their discussions with government authorities and by states when reviewing their own law and policies. It may also inform a state’s voluntary IHL implementation report.
While this checklist is intended to be comprehensive, it is not anticipated that all states will be able to implement all proposed provisions, as their ability to do so will depend on their constitutional and other legal frameworks.
This checklist is therefore intended as a good-practice guide to developing legislation that addresses sexual violence in armed conflict as comprehensively as possible. This checklist addresses the content of domestic criminal legislation and associated procedures. It does not address other necessary implementation measures, such as the integration of the prohibition of sexual violence into military manuals, doctrine or training.