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Sexual violence in conflict: delivering justice for survivors and holding perpetrators to account (WP1651)


Challenges within the rules-based international system highlight the need to strengthen justice and accountability for conflict-related sexual violence, putting survivors at the centre – one of the objectives of the UK’s Preventing Sexual Violence In Conflict Initiative (PSVI). In the lead up to the UK-hosted PSVI international conference in November 2019, the UK is consulting with a range of stakeholders on how to strengthen justice for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and ensure perpetrators are held to account. This Wilton Park event is an opportunity to produce concrete recommendations for action by governments, international agencies and NGOs that will achieve this. The conference, one of a number of milestones being delivered in the run up to the international conference, aims to give space to governments, NGOs, investigators, prosecutors and judges to identify challenges and make proposals on how to strengthen justice at the national and international levels. These could include the creation of an independent permanent international investigatory body, the use of sanctions against conflict-related sexual violence, restorative justice including reparation funds and enhanced coordination and standards for those gathering evidence for investigations.

The UK will host the PSVI international conference in November 2019, five years since the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. The event, hosted by Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence, will celebrate progress, address remaining challenges, and secure commitments to action. Areas of focus will include tackling survivor stigma, children born of sexual violence (CBoSV), ensuring service provision for male, LGBT and disabled survivors, and working with militaries, faith and the media. Efforts to strengthen justice and bring perpetrators to account will build on previous initiatives such as the development of the International Protocol on Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict. Launched at the 2014 Summit, the Protocol was developed in collaboration with over 200 gender and sexual violence experts, in order to strengthen the evidence base for bringing perpetrators to justice. The second edition, launched in 2017, was designed as a practical tool for experts working in the field to gather evidence of crimes and enable future prosecutions.

The event will develop proposals including from ongoing consultations hosted by Lord Ahmad, in order to:

  • Generate recommendations and proposals for the international community to take forward at the meeting in November 2019
  • Exchange good practice and lessons learned – what works and what doesn’t
  • Explore options towards increased accountability including, for example, strengthening or specialising existing courts or adjudicative mechanisms, informal accountability mechanisms, and restorative justice.
  • Consider wider societal, legal and political drivers that impact on prosecution rates
  • Strengthen and develop expert networks

Discussion throughout was based on a case study approach, drawing on successful initiatives from countries, recognising the need for approaches to be tailored to national/community contexts with a survivor-centred approach.

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