Five United Nations Security Council resolutions have together recognized the impact of conflict on women, established that sexual violence in conflict is a matter of international peace and security and have put in place concrete measures to ensure accountability.
When the United Nations Security Council passed the groundbreaking resolution 1325 in 2000, it was the first time that the importance of women’s role in peacebuilding was recognized. The resolution emphasized the need for women’s equal and full participation in all efforts to maintain and promote peace and security. It also called for attention to the special needs of women and girls during repatriation and resettlement, rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction.
This resolution was followed in 2008 by Security Council resolution 1820, which recognized that sexual violence has been used ‘as a tactic of war, to humiliate, dominate, instill fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group’. It called for effective steps to prevent and respond to acts of sexual violence as a central part of maintaining international peace and security. It urged Member States to comply with their obligations to prosecute the perpetrators of sexual violence, ensuring that all victims, particularly women and girls, have equal protection under the law and equal access to justice. It called for an end to impunity for sexual violence as part of a comprehensive approach to seeking sustainable peace, justice, truth and national reconciliation.
Three further resolutions provided building blocks for the implementation of these commitments. In 2009, resolution 1888 laid the ground for the appointment of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. It called upon the Secretary-General to ensure the rapid deployment of teams of experts and advisers to situations of concern and to ensure that peace talks address sexual violence. In the same year, resolution 1889 called for a strategy to increase women’s representation in conflict resolution decision-making, including indicators and proposals for a monitoring mechanism. Among other things, States must track money spent on women in post-conflict and recovery planning.
Resolution 1960, agreed in December 2010, called for a monitoring and reporting framework to track sexual violence in conflict. It mandated that the names of those ‘credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict on the Security Council agenda’ be included in annual reports on the implementation of resolutions 1820 and 1888.