Gender-Based Violence and Sanctions: A Potential UN Security Council Framework

Proposals to add a separate category on sexual and gender-based violations (SGBV) to the sanctions regimes for SudanSomalia, and Libya in the past six months have revived the question of which acts of SGBV fall within the United Nations Security Council sanctions mandates. The issue arises again this month, as the Security Council prepares for an open debate on the Secretary-General’s annual report on conflict-related sexual violence. The discussion, taking place around the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the mandate and office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, is due to focus especially on accountability and on approaches that take into account the survivors of such violence.

The Security Council, unlike other UN bodies, is limited by Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter in its consideration of SGBV in sanctions regimes to situations where SGBV constitutes a threat to peace, security, or stability. Yet, there is very little clarity on what acts of SGBV fall within that definition. This lack of clarity has often made official reporting of violations and the resulting sanctions less comprehensive and gender-sensitive than would otherwise be possible.

The Security Council could remedy this shortfall by adopting a framework to clarify the types of gendered violence that fall within sanctions regimes. Such a framework, as proposed below, would result in more effective SGBV-related determinations by UN bodies and others involved in sanctions — the Security Council; panels of eExperts (Security Council-mandated groups that investigate and report on, amongst other issues, SGBV); Sanctions Committees (established to assist the Council to implement sanctions); and human rights advocates/actors that regularly engage with these entities. more

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