Sexual violence in the age of R2P
by Monique Cuillerier
originally published in the World Federalist Movement – Canada’s Mondial newsletter (June 2012)
Sexual violence in conflict is not a new problem, but only recently has it been recognized as a systemic problem and considered as an international peace and security issue, instead of as individual incidents forming a ‘women’s issue.’
Difficulties remain in placing the issue within this wider legal and political context. But the nexus of sexual violence in conflict, the development of the ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) norm, and some of the ongoing cases at theInternational Criminal Court (ICC), provide a new and shifting context in which to consider these issues. For example, the early development of R2P largely failed to address gender-based issues. As Jennifer Bond and Laurel Sherret discussed at length in their 2006 paper, A Sight for Sore Eyes: Bringing Gender Vision to the Responsibility to Protect Framework, “current formulations of the ‘responsibility to protect’ doctrine are almost entirely gender-blind, despite the existence of multiple international mandates for integrating gender concerns into peace and security initiatives.” For example – and most explicitly – Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) presents a structured approach to women, peace and security, calling for the participation of women in peace and security initiatives, gender training to support peace operations, the protection of women and girls in the midst of armed conflict (particularly with regards to the issue of gender-based violence) and gender mainstreaming throughout programs and processes related to conflict, peace and security. Yet there has been a lack of cross-pollination between R2P and women, peace and security issues.