The United Nations Responses to the Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Women and Girls by Peacekeepers During Peacekeeping Missions

Thursday, December 31, 2009
Muna Ndulo

International law concerning sexual violence has developed dramatically during the past 50 years. Within the field of international criminal law, there has been a transformation from the Nuremberg Tribunal's failure to acknowledge crimes of a sexual nature to the specific definitions of sexual crimes in the text of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and in the jurisprudence of both the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Carla Del Ponte, prosecutor of the Yugoslav tribunal, observed that "when the [Yugoslav] tribunal closes its doors, part of its legacy will be the condemnation of sexual violence against women during times of conflict". Set against the historical silence surrounding war-time sexual violence, the progress achieved over the past decade has been significant: men who had raped and sexually enslaved women have been convicted and imprisoned, and the role of political and military authorities in tolerating and encouraging sexual violence against women has been acknowledged and condemned in the tribunals' indictments and judgments. As the law has developed, new contexts for the commission of sexual violence have emerged. One of those contexts is peacekeeping operations.

Document PDF: