Sexual Violence in Conflict


Addressing Sexual Violence in Conflict in Ceasefire and Peace Agreements

In today’s violent conflicts, civilians are increasingly caught on the frontline. One of the most devastating forms of extreme hostility waged against civilians is conflict-related sexual violence. It is used to provoke displacement of populations, deter opposition movements, affect reproduction and ethnicity, and undermine community cohesion. Highly effective, its use humiliates, dominates, instils fear, breaks identity and creates enduring ethnic, family and community divides.


Sexual violence has been used as a tactic of warfare in conflicts ranging from World War II, to Bosnia to the Democratic Republic of Congo – affecting women, men and children.


The Security Council considers sexual violence, when used as a method or tactic of conflict, a threat to international security and an impediment to peace. If left unaddressed, such violence can be used to continue to wage acts of war outside the purview of ceasefire and peace agreements. This can trigger cycles of vengeance and vigilantism that risk undermining agreements and, possibly, the mediation process itself.


The United Nations requires its mediators to address conflict-related sexual violence. To this end, the Mediation Support Unit, in the Policy and Mediation Division of the Department for Political Affairs (DPA) has launched Guidance for Mediators: Addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Ceasefire and Peace Agreements.


Key principles include an obligation to engage parties in discussing the issue and to work towards firm commitments to cease all acts of conflict-related sexual violence. The guidelines also require that conflict-related sexual violence be included in the definition of acts covered by a ceasefire and that they be monitored alongside other potential violations of ceasefire.

Implementing DPA's 'Guidance for Mediators on Addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence'


Central African Republic: 11 January 2013 Ceasefire Agreement and Declaration of Principles


A December 2012 country-wide offensive, launched by factions of Central African armed groups under the rebel coalition "Seleka", was eventually halted through the initiation of dialogue in Libreville, Gabon, and a signed Ceasefire Agreement and Declaration of Principles.


As part of the Department of Political Affairs’ efforts in providing mediation-related support to the crisis, the 11 January 2013 Ceasefire Agreement and Declaration of Principles contain provisions that:


1. Require the immediate halt of sexual violence by the conflicting parties.


2. Make sexual violence a prohibited act in the definition of ceasefire.


3. Require that sexual violence is addressed in a programme of urgent priority agreed to by the parties for the consolidation of peace.


In the history of ceasefire agreements, this ceasefire agreement provides the most comprehensive treatment of conflict-related sexual violence to date.



Video - Experts Welcome New Guidance




Video - Bosnia: Healing the Wounds of War



Credits: UNTV, 21st Century


Guidance for Mediators: Addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Ceasefire and Peace Agreements
January, 2012, Author: United Nations (Department of Political Affairs)