Politics by Other Means: When Does Sexual Violence Threaten International Peace and Security?


Anderson, Letitia. 2010. “Politics by Other Means: When Does Sexual Violence Threaten International Peace and Security?” International Peacekeeping 17 (2): 244–60.

Author: Letitia Anderson


In certain circumstances, rape, like war itself, may be politics by other means. After the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1820, the question is no longer whether sexual violence is a threat to international peace and security, but when. To move from normative recognition to real-world impact, better understanding is needed of when sexual violence should trigger action by the Security Council in relation to situations on its agenda, or be taken into account as a factor that prompts Security Council engagement. A six-pillar test is proposed to guide such determinations, namely: when it constitutes a crime of international concern; when it attracts command responsibility; when civilians are targeted; when it proliferates owing to a climate of impunity; when there are cross-border implications; and/or when it is a ceasefire violation. Sexual violence that falls into any one or any combination of these categories concerns the Security Council, peacemakers and peacekeepers.

Topics: Gender, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, International Criminal Law, Peace Processes, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1820, Sexual Violence, Rape

Year: 2010

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