16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV): A Summary of UN Security Council Resolutions on GBV

For the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, this blog highlights the WPS UN resolutions that address sexual and gender-based violence, and their applications.

November 25th (also the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) marked the kickoff for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) campaign. The 16 Days of Activism against GBV Campaign highlights the continued need for advocacy, outreach, lawmaking and other concrete commitments to end gender-based violence against women and girls.

Addressing sexual and gender-based violence (S/GBV) is a fundamental component of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, which was established in 2000 through United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. There are currently ten subsequent WPS resolutions that build upon the foundational Resolution 1325. Of these ten resolutions, five focus specifically on the prevention and response to conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, illustrating the integral nature of addressing S/GBV to the WPS agenda. This piece will highlight the WPS family of UN Security Council resolutions that address S/GBV and their application.

Resolution 1820 (2008)

UNSCR 1820, the second resolution related to WPS, was a landmark resolution that acknowledged, for the first time, conflict-related sexual violence as a “tactic of warfare.” It affirms the disproportionate impact of sexual-based violence on civilians (majority women and girls), reasserts rape and other forms of sexual violence as a war crime, and stresses the importance of justice for survivors. Furthermore, it urges parties concerned to strengthen protection and prevention mechanisms - including training for troops on appropriate prevention and response measures and bolstering national and civil society policies and resources to support survivors of sexual violence. 

Resolution 1888 (2009)

UNSCR 1888, the fourth resolution related to the WPS agenda, asserts a concern around the persistence of the issues of sexual violence in conflict situations, particularly against women and girls. It emphasizes in particular the need to address sexual violence “from the outset of the peace process and mediation efforts” in order to facilitate a more just and sustainable post-conflict transition. 

Notably, it calls for the establishment of a rapid response judicial team, strengthening monitoring and reporting mechanisms, and stresses more engagement and efforts on the issues from leadership. This includes the authorization (on a case-by-case basis) of women’s protection advisers (WPAs), stating that the need for WPAs should be assessed during the preparation of every UN peacekeeping mission. Resolution 1888 also calls for the appointment of a Special Representative on sexual violence in conflict to strengthen existing mechanisms and promote cooperation and coordination among all parties on these efforts. The current UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict is Pramila Patten, who has held the position since 2017.

Resolution 1960 (2010)

UNSCR 1960 is the fourth WPS-related resolution and the third explicitly emphasizing the impacts of sexual violence in conflict. It notes that S/GBV remains systemic and widespread in conflict situations, outlines institutional accountability mechanisms to list perpetrators (individuals or groups) and monitor S/GBV patterns, and calls for expanded mandates to comprehensively address sexual-based violence as a tactic and consequences of violent conflict. The resolution also requests the Secretary General to establish more effective monitoring, analysis, and reporting arrangements on conflict-related sexual violence. This includes working with various actors (civil society, health-care providers) to enhance data collection on sexual violence to better address appropriate actions in response to S/GBV.

Resolution 2106 (2013)

UNSCR 2106 is the sixth WPS resolution and further address sexual and gender-based violence in conflict. Resolution 2106 builds upon already-existing operational guidance on how to address sexual violence in conflict, such as the deployment of Women Protection Advisors and Gender Advisors (established by UNSCR 1888), who ensure that gender perspectives are mainstreamed in policies, planning and implementation of UN missions. 

Resolution 2106 also puts more focus on timely assistance to survivors of sexual violence. The resolution urges UN entities, donors, national institutions, local civil society networks, and Member States to strengthen systems of comprehensive health services and resources, including sexual and reproductive health, psychosocial, legal, and livelihood support. 

Resolution 2467 (2019)

UNSCR 2467 is the ninth WPS resolution and the fourth addressing S/GBV in conflict situations. This most recent update is particularly notable for its shift away from female-centric language to one that recognizes the impacts of structural gendered norms and related inequalities on all persons. As such it recognizes sexual violence as rooted in structural gender inequality and calls for national ownership in addressing root causes. 

Furthermore, it acknowledges the impact of sexual-based violence on men and boys, and the need for institutions, policies, and services to adequately address the needs of male survivors, alongside women and girls. The resolution also further builds upon initiatives to provide healthcare and other resources to survivors. It stresses a survivor-centered, non-discriminatory approach and encourages member states to strengthen related laws, policies, and procedures (including reparations) to facilitate access to justice for survivors.

Application of WPS Resolutions

The most recent Report of the Secretary General on Conflict Related Sexual Violence highlights notable achievements related to the above resolutions, as well as areas demanding further attention and improvement. In 2021, persistent armed violence, natural disaster, the global pandemic, related displacement and compounding insecurities exacerbated conflict-related S/GBV. The report focuses on the 49 state and non-state parties listed as perpetrators of S/GBV, as established by Resolution 1960. It re-asserts the requirement for national military, police forces, and non-state actors to adopt “specific time-bound commitments and action plans to address violations and are prohibited from participating in United Nations peace operations,” in order to be de-listed. 

The report also notes that, as first mandated by Resolution 1888 (2009), women’s protection advisers - responsible for monitoring, analysis, and reporting on conflict-related sexual violence - have been deployed in mandate operations and renewals of nine peace operations. According to the 2022 Women, Peace and Security report of the Secretary General, of the 12 current operating peacekeeping missions, eight have gender units, with a total of 52 gender advisors and officers, however, only four of these are senior-level gender advisors. 

Four UN peacekeeping missions included provisions related to conflict-related sexual violence in their mandates and incorporated early warning mechanism for conflict-related S/GBV into protection frameworks, as recommended by Resolution 1888. This recent report underscored the need for more sufficient human and budgetary resources to facilitate the role and responsibilities of the protection advisors. 

The United Nations Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict network, which unites efforts of 21 UN entities, has refocused its efforts on survivor-centric approaches that tackle root causes of S/GBV following Resolution 2467. The network provides strategic support at the country-level through the multi-partner trust fund, which, between 2009-2021, supported 53 projects in conflict affected countries - including funding for services addressing S/GBV exacerbated by COVID 19 in Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. 

Established in accordance with Resolution 1888, the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict continues to support national authorities in strengthening legal mechanisms relating to S/GBV accountability and support. Since 2014, the Team has engaged in 14 conflict-related settings and made significant progress throughout 2021. 

In the Central African Republic, the Team helped finalize a diagnostic report on judicial responses to conflict related S/GBV to serve as a roadmap for future legal framework. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it assisted in advancing legislation related to victim reparations, and supported the Congolese National Police in implementing their action plan to combat sexual violence. The Team advocated for accountability and reparations for victims of the September 28 2009 events in Guinea, and Mali’s 2012-2013 conflict. In Iraq, they helped finalize the Law of Support to Female Yazidi Survivors, and in South Sudan, facilitated development of an action plan for armed forces to address conflict-related S/GBV. 

Continuing the work to end S/GBV is crucial to the advancement of the WPS agenda and achieving a more equal and just society. These five WPS resolutions have helped create a framework to prevent S/GBV and facilitate needed resources and justice to survivors. The 16 Days of Activism against GBV campaign illustrates how advocacy and action are crucial in ending violence against women and girls.