Security Council Resolution 1820: Sexual Violence as a Tactic of Warfare
A former United Nations force commander recently noted that "it is more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier in Eastern DRC. In contemporary conflicts, women are increasingly on the front-line. Sexual violence against displaced women collecting fuel has become so common that camp workers in Darfur have abbreviated the phenomenon to "firewood rape". But is the sexual violence they suffer a matter for the world's foremost peace and security body? On 19 June 2008, the United Nations Security Council answered that question with a resounding yes – voting unanimously for a resolution that describes sexual violence as a tactic of war and a matter of international security. SCR 1820 (2008) stands as an essential complement to the full implementation of SCR 1325 on women, peace and security. Among other provisions, the Resolution:
- recognizes that efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence as a tactic of war may be linked to the maintenance of international peace and security – underlining that, as a security issue, it deserves a security response and therefore rightly belongs on the Council's agenda;
- affirms the recognition of sexual violence in conflict as a war crime, crime against humanity and constituent act of genocide, and hence a matter that can be referred to the sanctions committee;
- strengthens the prohibition on amnesty for such crimes;
- calls for stronger and clearer guidelines to United Nations peacekeepers to prevent sexual violence against civilians;
- calls for more systematic and regular reporting on the issue; and
- asserts the importance of women's participation in all processes related to stopping sexual violence in conflict, including their participation in peace talks.