UNSC Sexual Violence Debate

A view of the UN Security Council debating sexual violence in conflict in 2015. (UN Photo/Loey Felipe)

It has been two decades since the women, peace, and security (WPS) agenda began with the passing of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 in October 2000. Some of its main goals have been to protect the lives of women—especially against sexual violence—during conflict and amplify their participation in peace building processes in pursuit of global gender equality. However, the WPS agenda has been criticized for instrumentalizing more of a women exclusivist approach, which has led to fears of creating a backlash against women or that it might not necessarily lead to societal changes for women on the ground. Others critique the WPS agenda as adhering to binary gender categories, with women as passive victims and peacemakers, and men as perpetrators of violence.

Much of the WPS Security Council debates have been purely devoted to combating sexual violence against women by men. While it is true that women make up of the majority of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) victims, the widely accepted definition of CRSV is narrow and often excludes other types of gender-based violence. For example, “everyday” domestic violence, violence against gender and sexual minorities, sexualized torture, sexual violence committed or abetted by armed women, and sexual violence against men by other men. In a move that ostensibly acknowledges a wider definition of CRSV victims, Security Council resolution 2467, passed in April 2019, names men and boys as victims of CRSV. While it is useful that this resolution explicitly mentions men and boys as victims of CRSV, resolution 2467 gives no guidance on what kind of support male survivors need, nor does it give explicit guidance on what entity in the UN system would provide this support. Read more