High-Level Colloquium Addresses Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Peace Processes
Friday, July 31, 2009 9:31 AM

A high-level colloquium met in New York, USA, from 22-24 June 2009 to discuss sexual violence in peace negotiations. Sexual violence is often used as tool to target women and girls during war. The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has found that sexual violence is hardly addressed in peace agreements, which leads to higher levels of rape during peacetime. The colloquium was held near the one-year anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1820 , which addresses violence against women during conflicts and is described in greater detail here. UNIFEM, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) jointly organized the colloquium. Senior mediators, subject experts and women’s rights advocates were among the participants.


At the opening plenary senior mediators said that they had not felt “specifically mandated to address” sexual violence themselves. During the session many barriers to addressing sexual violence in peace agreements came to light, such as: “resource constraints; a lack of systematic data on the intensity, frequency and circumstances of conflict-related sexual violence; the often weak domestic advocacy on this issue, compressed timeframes for concluding agreements; resistance among negotiating parties to full accountability; and failure to ensure adequate numbers of women mediators, negotiators, peacekeepers and ceasefire monitors.” Despite these obstacles, at the final plenary meeting mediators said that they now view sexual violence as a “routine part of their mandate.”


The participants created core principles to help mediators and negotiating parties guarantee that sexual violence is discussed during peace agreements. These principles are in accordance with UNSCR 1820 and 1325, and will continue to be developed with further expert advice. Ultimately the principles will become an Operation Guidance Note on the UN Peacemaker website.


Compiled from: Helena Gronberg and Tina Johnson, Peace Mediations Should Include Women & Address Sexual Violence: High-Level Meeting & UN Report, International Women's Tribune Centre, 10 July 2009.