The measures taken by the UN in response to sexual violence during armed conflict
One of the major issues that the General Assembly of the UN discusses is the protection of women. This paper explores the UN’s response to sexual violence against women in zones of conflict.
One of the first texts to be adopted by the United Nations was the Declaration of the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. It was adopted on November 7, 1967 by the General Assembly of the UN.
On December 18, 1979, the General Assembly completed the Declaration of 1967 by adopting a Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (which came into force on 3 September 1981).
In the preamble of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (in the General Assembly of 20th December 1993) states in its preamble that women in areas of armed conflict are particularly vulnerable to violence. This text refers to all acts of violence against the female sex that causes or could cause physical, sexual or psychological suffering. It also includes the threat of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether it occurs in public or in private life.
Global conferences dedicated to promoting women's rights:
Since 1975, the International Year of Women, several global conferences dedicated to promoting women's rights have been organized by the UN. There have been conferences in Mexico City (June 19-July 2, 1975), Copenhagen (July 24 to 30 1980), Nairobi (July 15 to 26, 1985), Vienna (June 14 to 25, 1993) and Beijing (4 to 15 September 1995).
According to the declaration and program of action in Vienna and Beijing conferences –
1) Sexual assault is in violation of the international humanitarian law.
2) To protect women during armed conflict, the agendas calls for the respect of the international humanitarian law (and to take taking all measures to protect women and children against rape, forced prostitution and any other form of indecent assault)
The resolutions adopted by the principal organs in response to the sexual violence that took place in (the former) Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
The first body to condemn such practices was the Security Council.
By addressing this issue of sexual violence, the SC reaffirms its role in peacekeeping and international security. In Resolution 798 of December 18, 1992, the UN condemned these acts of unspeakable brutality.
On May 25, 1993, in Resolution 827 the SC reaffirms that rape and other violations (such as mass killings, continued practice of “ethnic cleansing”) of international law are threats to peace. And, therefore, by acting on the principles of Chapter VII, it was decided that an International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was to be created.
The activity of the Security Council in this area is particularly important because it does not just condemn these acts but also looks at the consequences of these acts and ensures that the perpetrators of these acts are punished(through various institutions like the International Criminal Tribunal).
In its resolution 1308 of 17 July 2000, the SC includes the sexual health dimension.
This is an important factor that is often overlooked. The risk of contracting AIDS after rape, mutilation of sexual organs and other sexual violence is very great.
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