Security Council Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict, September 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

On September 30th 2009 under the Presidency of the United States and chair of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1888 – the third resolution adopted by the Council under the agenda item of “Women, Peace and Security”, following resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008). Like SCR 1820, SCR 1888 is primarily focused on addressing and preventing sexual violence in conflict. It follows the August 2009 Open Debate on women, peace and security that considered the Secretary-General's report on resolution 1820 (2008) and takes up many of the recommendations contained in that report.

The Debate was monitored by the PeaceWomen Project and information on this and the Secretary General's report on 1820 can be found here.

Resolution 1888 outlines actions the UN and Member States can take to prevent conflict related sexual violence and end impunity and calls for various structural changes within the UN system to meet these aims.

Specifically, resolution 1888:

  • Calls for the appointment of a Special Representative to lead, coordinate, and advocate efforts to end conflict-related sexual violence against women and children. This Special Representative will work closely with UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict as well as other relevant parts of the UN system to enhance cooperation and information system on this issue;
  • Requests that the Secretary General identifies and deploys a “team of experts” to situations of particular concern with respect to sexual violence. This team will assist governments in preventing conflict-related sexual violence and address impunity, through strengthening civilian and military justice systems and enhancing national capacity, responsiveness to victims and judicial capacity;
  • Requests that existing gender advisors and human rights protection units within UN Peacekeeping Operations are identified as “women's protection advisers” as needed;
  • Urges the inclusion of sexual violence issues into all stages of peace processes from the start as well as on all United Nations-sponsored peace negotiation agendas;
  • Requests that the Secretary General ensure that there is more systematic reporting on incidents of sexual violence, particularly in regards to trends, emerging patterns of attack, and early warning indicators of the use of sexual violence in armed conflict in all relevant reports to the Council;
  • Requests that within three months, proposals on ways to ensure monitoring and reporting on more effective and efficient ways to protect women and children from rape and other sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict situations, with the assistance of various actors, including civil society organizations is submitted to the Security Council;
  • Requests subsequent annual reports on the implementation of 1820 (2008), with the next one to be submitted by September 2010 to include detailed coordination and strategy plan on the timely and ethical collection of information, information regarding parties to armed conflicts that are credibly suspected of committing patterns of rape.

This resolution fills some gaps left by resolutions 1820 (2008) and 1325 (2000) in several ways.

  • Special Representative: Civil society organizations have long advocated for the appointment of a Special Representative to reinforce, support and help drive existing UN efforts forward to address the needs and interests of women in conflict-affected situations. Although the focus of this Special Representative's mandate is on sexual violence, they will be positioned to advocate broadly on other issues on the women, peace and security agenda within the UN System.
  • Mediation / Peace Processes: Ensuring that sexual violence is integrated into peace processes is crucial in order to not only provide survivors of sexual violence with access to justice and reparations but also to build the foundations of a sustainable peace within a society that is sensitive to gender issues and addresses sexual violence with the full force of the law.
  • Reporting on Sexual Violence: The systematic reporting of sexual violence is integral in order for sexual violence to truly be addressed, and resolution 1888 emphasizes the need for this reporting through the inclusion of sexual violence in all reports submitted on peacekeeping missions, other Special Representatives and Rapporteurs, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Chairperson(s) of UN Action, and other thematic reports to the Council.

In addition, the resolution calls for an additional report to be submitted within 3 months on how to more effectively address sexual violence both on the field and within the UN system. This report in particular will be an opportunity to keep these issues on the agenda of the Security Council and the UN and ensure that sexual violence continues to be prioritized.

Gender Architecture: This resolution also identifies the link between the new UN gender architecture established in a recent General Assembly resolution and ending impunity for perpetrators on sexual violence, which is an important part of the overall goal of coordinating UN efforts on these issues in order to more effectively address them.

Women Protection Advisors: The creation of the position of “Women Protection Advisors” (WPAs) within UN peacekeeping missions mirrors the already established “Child Protection Advisors.” It is believed that WPAs will serve the same function and ensure systematic training for peacekeepers as well as support for missions in reporting incidents of sexual violence and implementing the resolutions on the ground.

Team of Experts: The resolution creates a new mechanism called a “team of experts” as needed to situations of particular concern with respect to sexual violence in armed conflict. Once deployed to a specific country, the team will:

1. Work closely with national officials to address impunity by strengthening national judicial and legal capacity to deal with the issue of sexual violence;
2. Identify gaps in the national response to sexual violence and encourage a holistic approach to the issue by enhancing criminal accountability, responsiveness to victims, and judicial capacity;
3. Make recommendations on how to coordinate existing efforts domestically and internationally to reinforce the government's ability to address sexual violence;
4. Work with all UN offices present in the country as well as the newly established Special Representative to fully implement resolution 1820 (2008).

With the adoption of resolution 1888 (2009), sexual violence in conflict is once again recognized as an issue of the highest importance that must be addressed immediately and comprehensively .Although the resolution leaves some holes left to fill, it is a step forward in ensuring that sexual violence in conflict is prevented and responded to systematically by the Security Council, UN System, and Member states.


PW Commentary Res 1888

SRC 1888 (2009)