United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820 Addresses Violence Against Women During Conflicts
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 11:35 AM

On June 19, 2008, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1820, after a day-long meeting on women, peace and security. In the non-operative paragraphs, the resolution “urges” states to ratify or accede to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Optional Protocols for each.  It also notes the large role sexual violence against women and girls plays both during and after conflicts. Finally, the Security Council “welcome[s]” the “inter-agency initiative ‘United Nations Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict,’ to create awareness about sexual violence in armed conflicts and post-conflict situations and, ultimately, to put an end to it[.]”

Among the several operative paragraphs, the Security Council most notably:

1. “[E]xpresses its readiness, when considering situations on the agenda […to] adopt appropriate steps to address widespread or systematic sexual violence;”

2. “Demands the immediate and complete cessation by all parties to armed conflict of all acts of sexual violence against civilians with immediate effect;”

3. “Demands that all parties to armed conflict immediately take appropriate measures to protect civilians, including women and girls, from all forms of sexual violence,” and

4. “Notes that rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide[.]”

The resolution also placed demands on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, including:

6-9. To develop training programs, guidelines and a zero tolerance policy for the UN’s “troop and police contributing countries” to protect women and girls from violence, especially sexual violence, during and post-conflict.  This may include utilizing more female peacekeeping troops or police.

10. Along with “relevant United Nations agencies, inter alia, through consultation with women and women-led organizations as appropriate, to develop effective mechanisms for providing protection from violence, including in particular sexual violence, to women and girls in and around UN managed refugee and internally displaced persons camps, as well as in all disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration processes, and in justice and security sector reform efforts assisted by the United Nations;”

12. Along with “his Special Envoys to invite women to participate in discussions pertinent to [all stages of conflict and peace], and encourages all parties to such talks to facilitate the equal and full participation of women at decision-making levels;” and

15. “[T]o submit a report to the Council by 30 June 2009 on the implementation of this resolution”

Compiled from: United Nations Security Council, Resolution 1820.