Former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and current UN Secretary-General António Guterres have both recognized sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by interveners as a risk to peacekeeping operations, which has led to a series of new policy responses. As institutions begin to adopt new policies for the prevention of SEA by international interveners, it is critical that existing scholarship on conflict-related sexual violence be translated and integrated into SEA prevention efforts so that these two fields find common ground.
Addressing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is paramount to security. Around the globe, violent extremist actors—from ISIL to lone gunmen—have committed atrocities against women. Societies or individuals with a history of SGBV, thus, serve as an indication of the potential for more widespread or continued violence. To ensure security for all, it is important to devote resources
toward ending SGBV.
Over the past fifteen years, there has been growing attention to wartime SGBV as a broader part of the women, peace, and security agenda, signified by nine UN Security Council Resolutions. There have also been increasing attempts to prosecute rape as a war crime and crime against humanity at the International Criminal Court. The new U.S. administration entering office in January 2017 should build on this momentum and expand efforts to protect women and girls, men and boys from SGBV globally and at home.
Conflict-related sexual violence destroys lives and destabilizes communities, making it an issue that concerns people of all genders. In June 2008, the United Nations Security Council recognized conflict-related sexual violence as a threat to international peace and security.1
Sexual violence is not inevitable in armed conflict, and it is not always used as a weapon. Over the past year or more, the use of sexual violence by violent extremist groups, particularly Daesh (or ISIL), has received more international attention, as the violence bears much resemblance to the use of sexual violence by other armed groups who have used it to further their interests and propagate fear.