By Institution
last updated August 4, 2008
United Nations

Good practices in legislation on violence against women, Expert group meeting organized by the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2008. (PDF, 76 pages)

The purpose of the expert group meeting was to analyze different legislative approaches for addressing violence against women; assess lessons learned and identify good practices in regard to legal reforms on violence against women; and develop a model framework for legislation on violence against women. The outcome of the meeting is intended to assist States and other stakeholders in enhancing existing, and developing new, legislation on violence against women.

The Shame of War: Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Conflict, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs/Integrated Regional Information Networks (OCHA/IRIN) (2007). (PDF, 139 pages).

A comprehensive study of sexual assault and abuse during armed conflict and the challenges of holding the perpetrators accountable. Includes sections on the motivations of perpetrators, violations by peacekeepers and aid workers, and the various mechanisms for seeking justice.

WHO Ethical and Safety Recommendations for Researching, Documenting and Monitoring Sexual Violence in Emergencies, World Health Organization (2007).

Supplements existing ethical and safety guidelines for research and documentation involving human subjects with recommendations addressing issues that arise specifically in the context of research on sexual violence during emergencies.

Women Building Peace and Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict-Affected Contexts: A Review of Community-Based Approaches, UNIFEM (October 2007). (PDF, 31 pages).

Through Security Council Resolution 1325, the UN committed itself and its member states to engaging women in conflict prevention and peace-building.  This report examines the numerous challenges faced by women participating in these processes and recognizes the importance of both community-based efforts and broader national and international peace-building work.

Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in War and Its Aftermath: Realities, Responses, and Required Resources, Jeanne Ward and Mendy Marsh, UNFPA (2006).

This briefing paper was prepared for the Symposium on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Beyond, which took place in June 2006.  It provides information on the nature and scope of the problem as well as evaluation of efforts to combat it.

“Other Patients Are Really in Need of Medical Attention”—The Quality of Health Services for Rape Survivors in South Africa, Nicola J. Christofides, et al., Bulletin of the World Health Organization 83(7), 495 (July 2005). (PDF, 8 pages).

Examines the attitudes of health care workers in South Africa toward rape survivors and the resulting quality of care in hospitals throughout the country.

Guidelines for Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings: Focusing on Prevention of and Response to Sexual Violence in Emergencies, Inter-Agency Standing Committee (2005). (PDF, 100 pages).

The guidelines are intended to be a tool to help humanitarian actors develop effective, coordinated approaches to the prevention of and response to sexual violence during the early stages of an emergency. The guidelines emphasize the importance of active involvement of local authorities and women and girls from the affected communities.

WHO Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women, World Health Organization (2005). (PDF, 38 pages).

A Comprehensive Strategy to Eliminate Future Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, Adviser on sexual exploitation and abuse by U.N. peacekeeping personnel, 2005.  (PDF, 41 pages – available in all official United Nation’s languages)

This report examines sexual exploitation by United Nations peacekeeping personnel in post-conflict situations and makes substantive recommendations to Member States and the U.N. to prevent the continuation of the problem.

The Economic Dimensions of Interpersonal Violence, Hugh Waters, et al., Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention, World Health Organization (2004).

Examines the economic effects of interpersonal violence, including sexual violence, as well as the economic effects of interventions seeking to reduce violence and the ways in which economic factors such as poverty and income inequality contribute to violence.

Clinical Management of Rape Survivors: Developing protocols for use with refugees and internally displaced persons – Revised ed., World Health Organization and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2004). (PDF, 78 pages).
This is the second version of a document presenting the results of discussions that took place at a conference of humanitarian organizations in 2001 on creating protocols and systems to respond to sexual violence and support community-based efforts to prevent sexual violence against refugee and internally displaced women.

Women and HIV/AIDS: Confronting the Crisis, The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, 2004. (PDF, 76 pages).
The report documents the important but little known impact of the AIDS epidemic on women and girls.

Guidelines for Medico-Legal Care for Victims of Sexual Violence. World Health Organization. (PDF, 154 pages). 
This publication offers behavioral guidelines to service providers who provide medical and legal assistance to victims of sexual violence. The guidelines for health care professionals discuss how to conduct a general examination, record and classify injuries, and how to treat the effects of sexual violence, including physical injury, sexually transmitted disease, hepatitis B, and unwanted pregnancy. There is a separate section on child sexual abuse, which covers how to determine if sexual abuse has occurred, documenting the abuse, and providing medical care to the victim.  The final section of the publication discusses the proper ways to document evidence of sexual assault. 

Not a Minute More: Ending Violence Against Women, United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), 2003 (PDF, 114 pages).
This report highlights the substantial achievements and advancements in women’s human rights over the past few decades, suggests reasons for the continued pandemic of violence against women, and outlines the next steps in eradicating gender-based violence through collaboration and partnerships.  

Guidelines for Prevention and Response: Sexual and Gender-Based Violence against Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (May 2003). (PDF, 168 pages).

The right of every one to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Report of the Special Rapporteur, Paul Hunt (E/CN.4/2003/58) (13 February 2003). (Available in PDF and Word, 32 pages).
Discusses in paragraph sixty-five the way in which violence, including sexual violence, compounds women's vulnerability to ill health.

2003 Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Developments in the area of violence against women (1994-2002) (E/CN.4/2003/75 and Corr.1) (6 January 2003). (Available in PDF and Word, 24 pages).
Special Rapporteur Radhika Coomaraswamy's final report to the Commission on Human Rights "focuses on developments at the international, regional and national levels aimed at eliminating violence against women since 1994 when the mandate of the Special Rapporteur was created." Paragraphs thirty-seven through forty-six discuss sexual violence and rape.

Addendum 1 to the Special Rapporteur's 2003 Report, International, regional and national developments in the area of violence against women 1994-2003 (E/CN.4/2003/75/Add.1) (27 February 2003). (Available in PDF and Word, 434 pages).
Discusses developments in the Asia/Pacific region (including the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States) at pages 165-222 and in the Eastern European region at pages 335-388. Best practices in the field of violence against women are discussed at pages 392-397.

The Impact of Conflict on Women and Girls: A UNFPA Strategy for Gender Mainstreaming in Areas of Conflict and Reconstruction, United Nations Population Fund, Bratislava, Slovakia (13-15 November 2002). (PDF, 149 pages).
Contains reports of working groups held at a consultative meeting in Bratislava on gender mainstreaming in situations of conflict and reconstruction, including the report of a working group on gender-based violence (page 23). Contains background papers, including a paper on sexual violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina (page 60) and a paper on the impact of armed conflict on women in Kosovo (page 77).

Gender Approaches in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations, United Nations Development Programme (October 2002). (PDF, 32 pages).

Report of the Secretary General on the Elimination of all forms of violence against women, including crimes identified in the outcome document of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly entitled "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century" (A/57/171) (2 July 2002).
Discusses the activities of the Member States and of the United Nations on the issue of violence against women.

Systematic rape, sexual slavery and slavery-like practices during armed conflicts, Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2002/28) (18 July 2002). (Available in PDF and HTML, 12 pages).

Report of the Task Force on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Humanitarian Crises, Inter-Agency Standing Committee (June 2002). (PDF, 8 pages).
Describes the deliberations and analysis of the Task Force that was created by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, which is composed of members (FAO, OCHA, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP, WHO) and standing invitees (ICRC, ICVA, IFRC, InterAction, IOM, SCHR, RSG/IDPs, UNHCHR, and the World Bank). The report "outlines a number of steps that the Task Force believes must be taken by the humanitarian community towards preventing sexual exploitation and abuse and responding to survivor needs."

2002 Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Cultural Practices in the Family that Are Violence Towards Women (E/CN.4/2002/83) (31 January 2002). (Available in PDF and Word, 39 pages).
Section III.A discusses the ways in which sexual violence is used to regulate women's sexuality and enforce societal gender norms.

The addendum to the 2002 Report (E/CN.4/2002/83/Add.1) (28 January 2002), contains country information on Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, and Uzbekistan. (Available in PDF and Word, 41 pages).

In her statement to the Commission on Human Rights on 10 April 2002, as she presented her 2002 report on cultural practices in the family that violate the rights of women, the Special Rapporteur discusses sexual assault of women during the armed conflicts in Sierra Leone and Columbia and the need for systems to prevent sexual abuse of women by humanitarian aid workers and peacekeepers.

Women, War and Peace: The Independent Experts' Assessment on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Women and Women's Role in Peace-building, Elisabeth Rehn & Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, UNIFEM (2002).
Chapter 2: Women Forced to Flee discusses sexual violence against displaced women and women in refugee camps. (PDF, 12 pages).

First World Report on Violence and Health, World Health Organization (2002). (PDF, 372 pages; 54-page summary in PDF, press releases and fact sheets available). Also available in Russian.
Chapter 6 provides an excellent discussion of sexual violence, and covers the definition, scope and potential responses to sexual violence. (PDF, 36 pages).

Review of Reports, Studies and Other Documentation for the Preparatory Committee and the World Conference, Note by the Secretary-General, transmission of Contribution by Special Rapporteur Radhika Coomaraswamy to the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance on the subject of race, gender and violence against women (A/CONF.189/PC.3/5) (27 July 2001). (Available in PDF and Word, 64 pages).
In her report to the World Conference on Racism, the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women discusses the intersection of ethnicity, gender and sexual violence against women in times of armed conflict.

2001 Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Violence Against Women Perpetrated and/or Condoned by the State During Times of Armed Conflict (E/CN.4/2001/73) (23 January 2001). (Available in PDF and Word, 45 pages).
Discusses sexual violence against women during armed conflict, including rape and sexual slavery, the specific risks faced by women who are refugees or internally displaced, and developments in international law regarding sexual violence against women during armed conflict.

In April 2001, the Commission on Human Rights issued Resolution 2001/49 in which it, among other things, welcomed the Special Rapporteur's 2001 report, condemned sexual violence against women in the family and during armed conflict, and urged states to consider signing and ratifying the [Optional Protocol] [internal link] to the Women's Convention.

Turning the Tide: CEDAW and the Gender Dimensions of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic, United Nations Development Fund for Women (2001).
Chapter 3 discusses gender-based violence and sexual exploitation.

Gender and Racial Discrimination: Report of the Expert Group Meeting, United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Development Fund for Women, Zagreb, Croatia (21-24 November 2000).
This article emphasizes the way in which gender and race can be used against women to ensure subordination. It also briefly discusses how gendered and racial subordination is used during armed conflicts and female incarceration.

Violence Against Women and HIV/AIDS: Setting the Research Agenda—Meeting Report, World Health Organization (23-25 October 2000). (PDF, 33 pages).

Contemporary Forms of Slavery: Systematic rape, sexual slavery and slavery-like practices during armed conflict, Update to the final report submitted by Ms. Gay J. McDougall, Special Rapporteur (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2000/21) (6 June 2000). (PDF, pages).

2000 Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Trafficking in Women, Women's Migration and Violence Against Women (E/CN.4/2000/68) (29 February 2000). (Available in PDF and Word, 38 pages).
The Special Rapporteur's 2000 report discusses sexual assault of women who are trafficking, both at the hands of traffickers and while in custody.

Reproductive health during conflict and displacement, World Health Organization (WHO/RHR/00.13) (2000). (Available in PDF and HTML format).
Chapter 7 discusses prevention of gender-based and sexual violence. Section E, composed of Chapters 17 through 21, discusses gender-based and sexual violence during armed conflict. Chapter 18 discusses the physical, psychological and social consequences of gender-based and sexual violence and Chapters 19 through 21 provide recommendations for responses to gender-based and sexual violence.

State of the World Population 2000: Lives Together, Worlds Apart: Men and Women in a Time of Change, United Nations Population Fund (2000).
Chapter 3: Ending Violence against Women and Girls discusses violence against women, including sexual violence, and the impact of violence on women's reproductive health.

Protecting Refugees: A Field Guide for NGOs, UNHCHR (May 1999). (PDF, 81 pages).
The subsection on "Protecting Refugee Women" at page fifty-three discusses some of the ways in which women may be especially vulnerable in a refugee setting.

Commission on the Status of Women, Forty-third Session Panel on Women and Health: HIV/AIDS and Violence Against Women, Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director (3 March 1999).

Gender and HIV/AIDS: Taking Stock of research and programmes, UNAIDS (UNAIDS/99.16E) (March 1999).

Addendum to the 1999 Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Policies and Practices that Impact Women's Reproductive Rights and Contribute to, Cause or Constitute Violence Against Women (E/CN.4/1999/68/Add.4) (21 January 1999).
The Special Rapporteur discusses sexual violence as a form of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and examines the consequences of sexual violence on women's reproductive health.

Contemporary Forms of Slavery: Systematic rape, sexual slavery and slavery-like practices during armed conflict, Final Report Submitted to the UN General Assembly by Gay J. McDougal, UN Special Rapporteur on Systematic Rape, Sexual Slavery and Slave-like Practices During Armed Conflict, Including Internal Armed Conflict, (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1998/13) (22 June 1998).

Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict: United Nations Response, Division for the Advancement of Women and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (April 1998).

1998 Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Alternative Approaches and Ways and Means Within the United Nations System for Improving the Effective Enjoyment of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (E/CN.4/1998/54) (26 January 1998).
Section I addresses violence against women during armed conflict, Section II discusses custodial violence against women, and Section III discusses violence against refugee and internally displaced women.

Violence Against Women in Situations of Armed Conflict and Displacement, World Health Organization (July 1997). (PDF, 4 pages).

1997 Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Alternative Approaches and Ways and Means Within the United Nations System for Improving the Effective Enjoyment of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (E/CN.4/1997/47) (12 February 1997).
Section III discusses rape and sexual violence and strategies for combating sexual violence.

1996 Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Further Promotion and Encouragement of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (E/CN.4/1996/53) (6 February 1996).
Discusses marital rape and forced prostitution.

Sexual Violence Against Refugees: Guidelines on Prevention and Response, Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Commission on Human Rights (March 1995). (PDF, 56 pages).

Annex II: Rape and Sexual Assault: A Legal Study, Final report of the United Nations Commission of Experts established pursuant to security council resolution 780 (S/1994/674/Add.2) (Vol. I) (28 December 1994).
Considers the criteria for applying certain international humanitarian law instruments to sexual assault cases and the limitations of international criminal and humanitarian law instruments.

Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (July 1991). (PDF, 31 pages).

Gender Dimensions of Racial Discrimination, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. (PDF, 34 pages).
Discusses the ways in which women may be the targets of sexual violence during armed conflict and because of their race, sex and membership in a particular ethnic group.

Women's Victimisation in Developing Countries, Anna Alvazzi del Frate & Angela Patrignani, United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, Issues & Reports No. 5.
Contains statistics on the prevalence and scope of violence against women around the world.

Reproductive Health for Communities in Crisis: UNFPA Emergency Response, United Nations Population Fund (PDF, 42 pages).
Includes a chapter on sexual violence at page nineteen.

Empower Women, Halt HIV/AIDS, UNIFEM.
European Union
The Daphne Experience 1997-2003: Europe Against Violence Towards Children and Women, European Communities (2005). (PDF, 68 pages).

Commission Final Report to the European Parliament and the Council on the Daphne Programme (2000-2003), Commission of the European Communities (March 2004). (PDF, 63 pages).

Report on participation of women in peaceful conflict resolution, Rapporteur Maj Britt Theorn, Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities, European Parliament Session Document (A5-0308/2000) (20 October 2002). (PDF, 25 pages).
Contains an explanatory statement on the motion for a resolution by the European Parliament on the participation of women in peaceful conflict resolution. The explanatory statement discusses sexual violence against women during war.

Commission Report to the European Parliament and the Council on the Daphne Programme (2000-2003), Commission of the European Communities (January 2002). (PDF, 36 pages).

Towards a Common European Framework to Monitor Progress in Combating Violence Against Women, European Women's Lobby, Policy Action Centre on Violence against Women (2001). (PDF, 40 pages).
Contains proposals for policies and indicators that could form the basis for a tool to monitor State progress in combating violence against women, as well as case studies of European initiatives that illustrate good practices. The Special Rapporteur's 2003 Report notes at paragraph 2169 that this guide is being used by the European Women's Lobby "to collate information and data on violence against women with the EU member States."

Annual Report on International Human Rights and European Union Human Rights Policy, 1999, Rapporteur Cecilia Malmström, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy, European Parliament Session Document (A5-0060/2000) (29 February 2000). (PDF, 42 pages).
Discusses the activities of the European Union on the issue of violence against women, including sexual assault, custodial sexual violence, and sexual assault during wartime.

Recommendations of the EU-Expert Meeting, Jyväskylä, Conference of Experts—Police Combating Violence Against Women, Jyväskylä (November 1999).

Recommendations of the EU-Experts Meeting, Baden, Conference of Experts—Police Combating Violence Against Women, Baden (December 1998).
Council of Europe

Forced Marriages in Council of Europe Member States: A Comparative Study of Legislation and Political Initiatives, Edwige Rude-Antoine, Equality Division of the Directorate General of Human Rights of the Council of Europe (2005). (PDR, 132 pages).
This report examines the relationship between forced marriage and violence against women, including sexual assault. It also includes a country-by-country breakdown of law provisions applicable to forced marriage and sexual assault.

Combating Violence Against Women, Prof. Dr. Carol Hagemann-White, Judith Katenbrink, and Heike Rabe, Equality Division of the Directorate General of Human Rights of the Council of Europe (2006). (PDF, 68 pages).
This report examines the measures and actions taken by the Council of Europe member States to combat violence against women, including an examination of their monitoring processes and recommendations.

The Daphne Experience 1997-2003: Europe Against Violence Towards Children and Women, European Commission Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security (2005). (PDF, 72 pages).
This report describes the efforts European States made during the time period to combat violence against women, including sexual assault, through the Daphne Initiative and the Daphne Program. It also presents background information on violence against women.

Final Report, OSCE Conference on Violence Against Women in the 21st Century, Paris, 28-29 April 2005 (29 November 2005). (PDF, 40 pages). Includes both French and English versions.
This report describes the level of current international attention to and action to stop violence against women. It also discusses the link between violence against women and HIV/AIDS, as well as makes recommendations to States for further action.

The Protection of Women against Violence, Recommendation Rec(2002)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the protection of women against violence, and Explanatory Memorandum (30 April 2002). (PDF, 52 pages).
Contains information about the history of efforts to combat violence against women in Europe, legislative differences between member states, and the reasons for the choices that were made in the Recommendation.

Men and Violence Against Women, Proceedings (EG/SEM/VIO (99) 21) (5 April 2000). (PDF, 175 pages).
Includes papers presented at a conference in Strasbourg on 7-8 October 1999. The conference focused on scholarly and theoretical issues relating to the causes of male violence, including trans-cultural representations of male violence, psychoanalytical and feminist theories of male violence, and socio-economic factors and the use of violence.

Report: Rape in armed conflicts, Rapporteur Rodica-Mihaela Stanoiu, Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, Parliamentary Assembly (Doc. 8668) (15 March 2000).
Contains an explanatory memorandum to the Council of Europe's Recommendation 1212(2000) on rape in armed conflicts.

Violence against Women in Europe: Report (Doc. 8667), Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (15 March 2000).
The report includes the Parliamentary Assembly's recommendations to the Council of Ministers regarding violence against women, the Committee's draft recommendation, a discussion of rape and sexual violence, and an explanatory memorandum that details the scope and prevalence of violence against women in Europe. On April 3, 2000, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted Recommendation 1450 (2000), [Violence Against Women in Europe.

Steering Committee for Equality Between Women and Men: Summary of the Plan of Action to Combat Violence Against Women (EG-S-VL (98)) (June 1998).
Part One of the report describes the Council of Europe's Group of Specialists' findings with respect to the nature of violence against women, including sexual assault. Part One also discusses the scope of the problem of different forms of violence against women, the work that has been undertaken on these issues, and current challenges and problems. Part Two of the report recommendations for the areas of legislation and policy, education and awareness-raising, victim support and assistance and research and monitoring.

Legislation in the Member States of the Council of Europe in the Field of Violence Against Women, prepared in part by Jill Radford, United Kingdom, for the Council of Europe's Steering Committee for Equality Between Men and Women, March 2004 (Doc. EG 2004 2).
This report details national legislation dealing with violence against women in 38 of the 45 Council of Europe member states. In 1995, the Council requested member states to complete a questionnaire on relevant legislation, and subsequent research completed by the Council allowed for a survey of the varying legislation of member states. The report consists of two volumes, ending with a list of good practices and effective legislation prohibiting violence against women. Sections 1.3, 5.0, and 6.0 within each national summary contains information, if available, on sexual assault and rape legislation and penalties.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

Final Report, OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting, “Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women,” Vienna (18-19 March 2002). (PDF, 29 pages).

Final Report, OSCE Supplementary Implementation Meeting: Gender Issues, Vienna (14-15 June 1999). (PDF, 19 pages).
Annex I sets forth the keynote address by Martina Vandenberg of Human Rights Watch, in which she identifies some of the key problems facing women in the OSCE region. The body of the report documents the discussions of and the non-binding recommendations developed by the meeting's working groups for actions in the economic, security, and political spheres.