Global Justice Center Blog

A Call for European Union Member States to Ensure Access to Safe Abortion Services for Female Rape Survivors in Armed Conflict

This Call to Action urges European Union Member States (Member States) to change the European Union’s (EU) humanitarian aid policies. As they stand now, the EU’s policies prevent the provision of comprehensive and non-discriminatory medical care to girls and women impregnated by rape in armed conflict by routinely denying access to safe abortion services. These policies increase the harm suffered by women and girls impregnated by war rape and violate their rights under common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

The EU should establish a strong policy affirming the Geneva Conventions’ requirement that war victims be provided all care necessary as required by their condition, including life-saving abortion services for victims of war rape.

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15 Years after the Adoption of Security Council Resolution 1325: Enforcing International Law

"Moving the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda from Paper to Practice"

Introduction

Fifteen years ago, the UN Security Council undertook addressing and understanding the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women in its maintenance of international peace and security. To this end, the Council adopted Resolution 1325 (2000), creating the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. The Council subsequently adopted seven more resolutions as part of this agenda—Resolutions 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), 1960 (2010), 2106 (2013), 2122 (2013), and 2242 (2015)—which together inform the protection and promotion of women’s rights in conflict and post-conflict settings.

In recognition of the fifteenth anniversary of Resolution 1325 and its creation of the WPS agenda, in 2013, the Council requested a review of 1325’s implementation, which resulted in the publication of the Global Study in October 2015. The Study identifies gaps, challenges, trends, and priorities to consider in moving forward with the WPS agenda. The Study undertakes an in-depth evaluation of the past fifteen years and highlights major successes in addressing gender issues arising in conflict, including the inclusion of a comprehensive list of gender crimes in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC); the appointment of a Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict; and the adoption of General Recommendation No. 30 on women in conflict prevention, conflict, and post-conflict situations by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee). The Global Study also provides essential recommendations for the future of the WPS agenda’s implementation.

Furthermore, the Study acknowledges that significant challenges remain to implementing the WPS agenda. Indeed, obstacles persist due to, for example, a lack of prosecutions of sexual violence crimes; a dearth of National Action Plans (NAPs) on women, peace, and security; and the rise of violent extremism, terrorism, and militarism.

These challenges are rooted in one unaddressed weakness of the WPS agenda: its failure to explicitly incorporate the mandates of international law. This document will thus focus on how the panoply of women’s rights under international law can be used as a tool to achieve the objectives of the WPS agenda in two areas: (1) humanitarian responses to gender crimes and (2) prosecuting and deterring gender crimes. This document will also highlight the need for the Security Council to mainstream and integrate the WPS agenda into all of its work.

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International Justice Day

On July 17, Global Justice Center celebrated International Justice Day and reminded of the ongoing Yazidi Genocide, despite promises of #NeverAgain. 

#JusticeMatters

World Day for International Justice

Ending Impunity and Encouraging Firsts:  A Call to Action for the ICC to Open a Preliminary Examination into Genocide against Yazidis.

Written by Carolina van der Mensbrugghe

On August 15th, 2014, nineteen-year-old Nadia Murad Basee Taha, an Iraqi Yazidi, was kidnapped by ISIS fighters in Kocho, a city outside of northern Iraq. The ISIS fighters then separated their captives by gender, and proceeded to execute over three-hundred men in one hour, including Nadia’s six brothers. Following this trauma, Nadia was dehumanized, defined as a sex slave by her captors, and subject to months of unimaginable acts of physical and sexual violence, including systematized gang-raping at the hands of jihadi ISL fighters. Against all odds, Nadia escaped ISIS control in November 2014, and is now a Yazidi activist pushing the United Nations to obtain international justice for her and thousands of other Yazidi. The United Nations has heard, but not yet moved to act on these pleas.

The World Day for International Justice, held annually on July 17, provides an opportunity for the global community to reflect on its progress and promote the evolving criminal justice system. The day also commemorates the signing of the Rome Statute eighteen years ago, which led to the creation of the International Criminal Court (”ICC”).

International recognition of gender-based crimes is essential in achieving justice for women in conflict and post-conflict societies. Genocide is carried out differently against women than it is men, detailed in Nadia’s harrowing accounts that represent thousands of Yazidi women still caught in extreme, brutal, and systematized acts of sexual violence that amount to genocide. The global failure to heed Nadia’s pleas and act to prevent this ongoing genocide specifically against Yazidi victims of sexual violence is both discriminatory and disgraceful in effect.

Now, more than ever, it is time to act towards ending gender-based violence. Such actions towards achieving justice for survivors of gender-based violence are gaining momentum, reflected in both normative and practical milestones that happened this year.

On July 16, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, chairman of the panel, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, declared for the first time that genocide, largely in the form of sexual violence, against Yazidis in Syria and Iraq had occurred and is ongoing. Pinheiro demanded action, calling for the case to be referred to the ICC and reminding countries of their international obligations under the 1948 genocide convention to take measures to prevent the ongoing violence.

On June 21, five days later, the ICC sentenced Former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba to 18 years in prison for charges of using rape as a war crime and crime against humanity. This is the first conviction for ICC on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) charges.

On the same day that the ICC released its landmark sentence, United Nations member states held a meeting to commemorate the first International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. In The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) chamber, the discussion focused on justice via accountability. Panel speakers noted that despite increased availability of evidence for gender-based crimes, exasperated diplomats demanded action over talk.

The UN #EndRapeInWar hashtag, inaugurated at the panel discussion, is itself a mandate that demands substantive action. Such action, the panel urged, should be directed towards ending genocidal sexual violence against Yazidi women, echoing Chairman Pinheiro’s call to action.

We are living in a historical moment for the International Justice System. The UN has explicitly noted the need for justice for the Yazidi genocide. The time is now and the call to action to end impunity is clear.

The ICC should lead by example to act as the first international entity to take action by launching an preliminary investigation into crimes of genocide. The case could result in the first genocide prosecutions at the ICC, which could include the first enforcement of gendered forms of genocide, and would result in justice for Nadia and the Yazidi.

1 http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2016/04/28/watch-yazidi-activist-and-sex-slave-survivor-nadia-murads-powerful-message-to-isis/ 
2 http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/17/world/middleeast/isis-genocide-yazidi-un.html  
3 http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/17/world/middleeast/isis-genocide-yazidi-un.html 
4. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/22/world/africa/jean-pierre-bemba-hague-central-african-republic.html
5. https://www.un.int/news/eliminating-sexual-violence-conflict