The Hoya highlighted new research from Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security in its April 5 article “UN Sanctions Can Prevent Sexual Violence in Conflict, GIWPS Report Argues.”

Sophie Huvé, the author of the report discussed in The Hoya’s article, analyzed the United Nation Security Council’s use of targeted sanctions against individuals and entities responsible for using sexual violence as a weapon of war. The Hoya article misrepresented Huvé’s comments in a recent interview by writing: “Some member states of the Security Council are reluctant to impose sanctions for sexual violence given their own past transgressions, according to Huvé.”

In her interview, Huvé was not referring to the reluctance of the UNSC to impose sanctions on sexual violence when used as a weapon of war, but rather the reluctance of the UNSC to broaden the scope of what forms of sexual violence can be sanctioned. The current UNSC Resolution 1820 legal framework to address sexual violence in armed conflict is restricted to its use as a “weapon of war.” The current definition excludes sexual violence that is not a deliberate attack on civilian populations.

This limited framework is a compromise between different political viewpoints in the Council about the scope of sexual violence. Many states have, at some point, been accused of sexual violence committed by their soldiers while acting for private reasons, in peace-keeping or other operations. Although many UNSC member states are willing to impose targeted sanctions on the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, they are not willing to broaden the definition to include any form of sexual violence perpetrated during a conflict.

Sarah Rutherford is the communications manager for Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

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