Addressing Gender-Based Violence in the Sierra Leone Conflict: Notes from the Field


Teale, Lotta. 2009. “Addressing Gender-Based Violence in the Sierra Leone Conflict: Notes from the Field.” African Journal on Conflict Resolution 9 (2): 69-90.

Author: Lotta Teale


Sierra Leone’s transition has witnessed a number of landmark procedural and legal innovations which have had widespread implications for international gender justice. The 11-year conflict had shattered the country, leaving more than a million people displaced and thousands of women coping with the aftermath of sexual violence. Then, in 1999, the Lomé Peace Accord in 1999 traded amnesty for peace and made provision for the establishment of the Sierra Leone Truth Commission. The United Nations Security Council subsequently established a Special Court to prosecute those who bore ‘the greatest responsibility’ for atrocities committed during the conflict. However, while both the Truth Commission and the Special Court made some unique strides in promoting gender justice, the perception among gender activists is that both initiatives fell short in addressing the country’s gender-based human rights violations. Questions abound over the real impact of the Special Court, not least because there are issues over how much justice victims achieve through the prosecution of only those with command responsibility. Although the Truth Commission had a more far-reaching ambit and did confront some aspects of the country’s gendered past, its long-term impact has yet to be realised and its gender-sensitive recommendations have yet to be implemented. This article will assess Sierra Leone’s transition through an analysis of its successes and failures in addressing gender-based violations committed during the conflict and will examine how far gender justice has been achieved.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, TRCs, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2009

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