Posted by: lisacollste | September 17, 2009

Security Council Resolution 1820 on Women, Peace and Security

500 000 women were raped during 1994 Rwandan genocide,

200 000 cases of sexual violence have been recorded since open hostilities began in DRC in 1996,

and every day hundreds of women are raped in Darfur.

Wartime sexual violence has been one of history’s greatest silences. In June 2008, the Security Council unanimously adopted Security Council Resolution 1820 which is an historic resolution in providing further impetus and development to a system-wide UN action to prevent and address sexual violence. The resolution represents a crucial recognition of the consequences of sexual violence in war, both for individual victims and for broader communities, and commits the issue to the attention of the Security Council, Secretary General, and the UN.

SCR 1820 builds on resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security and the resolutions are mutually-reinforcing.

The key-elements of SCR 1820 are the following:

–          It explicitly links sexual violence as a tactic of war with the maintenance of international peace and security.

–          It recognizes sexual violence as a security issue, which deserves a security response and thereby gives the Council a clear mandate to intervene.

–          It affirms legal status of sexual violence in conflict as a war crime, crime against humanity and constituent act of genocide, and hence a matter that can be referred to the sanctions committee.

–          It demands parties to armed conflict to protect civilians and adopt concrete protection/prevention measures to end sexual violence.

–          It emphasizes the importance of women’s participation in all processes related to ending sexual violence in conflicts, including peace talks.

–          It prohibits impunity for sexual violence and requires exclusion of sexual violence from any amnesties reached at the end of conflict. States must prosecute or extradite alleged offenders.

The resolution affects UNHCR’s work in several ways. As part of the UN’s inter-agency response, UNHCR has a responsibility, in collaboration with other UN-agencies, to assist States to prevent sexual violence, protect individuals and provide remedy to victims. In the area of protection, UNHCR has to develop effective mechanisms for providing protection from violence, including in particular sexual violence, to women and girls in and around refugee and internally displaced persons camps. UNHCR, and other UN-agencies, are called upon for improved data collection in order to enhance the understanding of the various forms of sexual violence in conflict and its aftermath.

The Security Council is currently discussing the resolution, particularly in regards to monitoring mechanisms and implementation.

For more information, please see the following documents:

The Security Council Resolution 1820.

– The The Secretary-Generals report on implementation of SCR 1820.

– A Poster on SCR 1820: ‘’What it Says, Why it Matters, How it Works’’ made by Stop Rape Now.

– A PowerPoint presentation on SCR 1820 made by Stop Rape Now.

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