UNSC Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict

On 17 July 2020, the UN Security Council, under the presidency of Germany, held an open debate on the topic of sexual violence in conflict. Key themes for the debate included important topics such as implementation and accountability; supporting holistic approaches to Women, Peace and Security; centering the priorities and needs of survivors in work on sexual violence; ensuring compliance with existing Security Council resolutions; and promoting human rights and addressing gender inequality as a root cause of conflict. 

Human rights and democracy activist from Myanmar demands action 


Ms. Khin Ohmar, human rights defender and democracy activist from Myanmar, briefed the UN Security Council at this year's open debate on sexual violence in conflict. Photo: Forum Asia

Ms. Khin Ohmar, a human rights defender and democracy activist from Myanmar, briefed the Security Council as a representative of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. Her briefing outlined the long, documented history of the Myanmar military using sexual violence as a weapon of war, particularly against the Rohingya and other ethnic minority communities, as part of a deliberate strategy that constitutes crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide. Her statement emphasized that these crimes take place in a broader climate of impunity resulting from structural gender inequality and discrimination against women and girls. 

Debate Themes

The debate largely focused on a survivor-centred approach and addressing accountability, with a few statements encouraging and connecting the need for access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for survivors. 

WILPF has published a full analysis of the debate, including coverage of the briefings and themes including root causes, survivor-centered approaches, accountability, women human rights defenders, and disarmament. 

Read our analysis.