Rhetoric Without Results: United Nations Security Council Resolutions Concerning Rape During Armed Conflict


Schreck, Rachel. 2009. “Rhetoric Without Results: United Nations Security Council Resolutions Concerning Rape During Armed Conflict.” Penn State International Law Review 28 (1): 83–110.

Author: Rachel Schreck


This comment recognizes the mass sexual atrocities committed against women during and after armed conflict and examines the deficient response by the U.N. to reconcile this prevalent issue. After introducing "one of history's great silences" in Part I, this comment continues in Part II by explaining how rape and sexual violence have a long history of being used as acceptable war tactics. Further, Part II describes the numerous physical and psychological impacts that rape has on victims. Part III discusses the minimal use of international courts and tribunals to prosecute major offenders of rape and sexual violence crimes. International courts have found accepted definitions of rape and sexual violence and include them among those acts that are war crimes. Rape is also included under the purview of an act of torture and an act of genocide. Part IV of this comment examines the recent U.N. Security Council Resolution 1820 and compares it with its predecessor, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325. The comparison of the two U.N. Security Council Resolutions reveals that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1820 fills in the gaps and weaknesses of the former resolution. The passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1820 increases international human rights organizations' hope that the U.N. will finally be able to implement both resolutions. Part V recognizes that further action by the international community is necessary if U.N. Security Council Resolution 1820 is going to be successfully implemented. Part V identifies five fundamental recommendations from international human rights organizations on how to combat sexual violence against women before, during, and after armed conflict. Part VI continues with a discussion on the importance of further action necessary to accomplish the "aspirations" of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1820. Although the Secretary-General recently submitted a report to the United Nations Security Council ("Security Council") on how to implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 1820, the report contained much of the same unproductive language as the U.N. Resolutions. This comment concludes by recognizing that the international community is armed with the necessary tools to successfully implement Security Council Resolution 1820. The success of implementation, however, ultimately depends on whether there will be a collective effort of the U.N. devoted to combating the challenge of eliminating rape and sexual violence during armed conflict.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, International Human Rights, International Organizations, Justice, War Crimes, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1820, Sexual Violence, Rape

Year: 2009

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