Manifestation of a Decision

My latest piece on security and women, for PassBlue looked at whether or not sexual violence was being used as a systemic weapon of war in Eastern Ukraine, as the conflict rages on, one year after the first protests in Kiev. The findings are inconclusive, but both the OSCE and UNHRC have positioned the situation as catastrophic for women and children.  What is known is that the country, through cultural mores and basically corrupt leadership, is woefully unprepared to deal with massive violence directed against women.

A weapon does not decide whether or not to kill. A weapon is a manifestation of a decision that has already been made. Stephen Galloway, The Cellist of Sarajevo

In October of 2000, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1325, on women, peace and security. A resolution is one adopted by the 15 members of the Security Council, which has five permanent members and nine rotating members.

The resolution, according to the office of the UN Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, “reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.”

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron. Dwight D Eisenhower

Additionally, it is the first UNSCR to require that women and girls’ be protected from sexual and gender based violence during armed conflicts, and that women’s rights be protects, and support women in participating in peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction.

Eight years later and almost 500 varied resolutions later, the Security Council passed UNSCR 1820. Again unanimously passed, this resolution condemns the use of sexual violence as a weapon of warfare, and declares, “rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide.”  Since then,  the Democratic Republic of Congo has become what the UN terms the “epicenter of sexual violence against women,” and conflicts in Syria, Libya, Sudan and Liberia to name a few,  have all seen systemic sexual violence as a weapon of war, particularly inflicted on women. Even the peacekeepers are accountable, as a recent study showed.

It has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in armed conflict. UN PeaceKeeping Commander Major-General Patrick Cammaert


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