Treating the symptoms and ignoring the cause: Why Existing International Standards cannot provide an End to Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict

University essay from Lunds universitet/Juridiska institutionen

Abstract: Sexual violence is a frequent problem in armed conflict. For twenty years, multiple measure have been adopted to stop this conduct but it is showing very little result. At the same time, there is a lively debate on several areas concerning sexual violence in armed conflict. This thesis analyses two of these areas of debate in order to find what the Community of States is doing wrong. Before entering the discussion on the main issues, I present the context of sexual violence and an overview of the international standards that are adopted to fight the conduct. The context include definitions, history and an attempted picture of how and where sexual violence is employed in armed conflict at the moment. The overview of international standards covers many different documents, both on the field of hard law and of soft law. I present international humanitarian law, international criminal law and international human rights law. Besides this, I describe the United Nations Security Council resolutions on women in armed conflict and a few other important soft law documents. The first area of debate that I am discussing concerns the reasons behind sexual violence in armed conflict. The purpose is to find out if the adopted standards are the most suitable to address the reasons why sexual violence is employed in armed conflict. I conclude that feminist theory is best fit to give us an answer to why. It requires that measures are focused on gender equality. This approach is not used by the Community of States, whose main focus is criminalisation. The second area of debate that I am looking at concerns how sexual violence is addressed within international criminal law. Many scholars are concerned that the rights of the victims are not sufficiently recognised. Since the victims are mostly female, this attitude counteracts gender equality. This thesis thereby recognises that every area of measures must strive for the same goal, which is not taken into consideration by the Community of States.

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