posted on Thu 7 Feb 2019 6:19 PM
Arria-formula Meeting: Accountability for Conflict-related Sexual Violence

Tomorrow morning (8 February) at 10 am, there will be an Arria-formula meeting in the Trusteeship Council Chamber on the preventive impact of criminal accountability for conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. The meeting was organised by Germany, in partnership with Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, France, Kuwait, Peru, Poland, South Africa and the United Kingdom. All UN member states, permanent observers, non-governmental organisations and the press are invited to attend. The meeting will be chaired by Katarina Barley, the Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection of Germany.

After introductory remarks by the Federal Minister, a briefing will be provided by Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center, an organisation whose mission is to work “for peace, justice, and security by enforcing international laws that protect human rights and promote gender equality.” The co-hosts, Council members more broadly, and other member states are then expected to make statements and ask questions. The chair may invite the briefer to respond.

Following the meeting, Germany plans to produce a brief chair’s summary. Additionally, Germany has said that the discussion during the meeting will be continued during an open debate on conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) in April, when it holds the Council presidency, leading to a possible outcome.

In the concept note circulated in preparation for the meeting, Germany reiterates the continuing problem of gender-related violence as a tactic of war and terrorism, and the persisting culture of impunity with regard to such violence. The concept note highlights resolution 2106 (2013) and its emphasis on the importance of national ownership in addressing the root causes of sexual violence. It echoes several of Secretary-General António Guterres’s ideas on how to address the problem of CRSV more effectively. It recalls that he has urged the Council to integrate CRSV into the work of sanctions committees, including by making sexual violence a designation criterion.  It reiterates his call to include measures to prevent CRSV in justice reform initiatives. The note refers to his recommendation that the Council employ all means to influence parties to a conflict to comply with international law, including by referring cases to the International Criminal Court. Finally, it notes that accountability for CRSV crimes is a key element of Guterres’s prevention strategy.

The Council has addressed this issue as part of the women, peace and security agenda, particularly through four Council resolutions on sexual violence in conflict: 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1960 (2010) and 2106 (2013). The issue has also been addressed in resolution 2331 (2016), which recognises that sexual violence can be used as a tactic of terrorism, and in resolution 2447 (2018), which includes a specific reference to prevention and response to CRSV.

The concept note encourages participants to focus on a number of questions. Among others, these include:

  • How can the Security Council most effectively use its tools to prevent sexual violence in conflict?
  • How can member states enhance their national ownership and strengthen leadership in promoting accountability for CRSV?
  • How can the Council and member states more broadly support the Special Representative on Sexual Violence and the UN Team of Experts on this issue in fulfilling their mandates?
  • How can member states contribute to combating impunity for sexual violence in conflict?
  • How can women’s participation in the prevention of conflict-related sexual violence and criminal justice efforts on this issue be enhanced?
  • How can the Council best assist States in the investigation and prosecution of CRSV, including by taking up accountability-related recommendations of the Council’s Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security (IEG)?
  • How can the Council create international mechanisms for enhancing the collection and preservation of evidence in cases where investigations and prosecutions by national or international courts are not possible?

Germany has signalled that promoting women, peace and security issues will be one of its signature topics during its presidency and throughout its term. Council members have differing views on the role of the Council in addressing conflict-related sexual violence. Some Council members believe, for example, that targeted sanctions for conflict-related sexual violence are used too rarely in cases where the relevant listing criterion exists. In the annual open debate on conflict-related sexual violence in April 2018 (S/PV.8234), a majority of Council members showed support for such listings. However, others have a more restrictive approach towards the imposition of UN sanctions in general, including with respect to sexual violence as a listing criterion. Recently, these differences played out with regard to the Sudan (Darfur) sanctions regime. In the resolution adopted this afternoon renewing the Sudan Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts, sexual violence was not added as a listing criterion for targeted sanctions, although a number of members had advocated the addition of this criterion.

As Arria-formula meetings are not formal Council meetings, it is possible that some members will not speak or attend the meeting.