Protection of Civilians from Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Insights for African Union Peace Missions

Sexual violence committed by parties to an armed conflict is prohibited under international law. SGBV can constitute a war crime, crime against humanity, and genocide. Under international law, no woman, man, girl or boy shall be subjected to sexual violence, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced marriage, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, sexual mutilation, outrages on personal dignity or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity. International law has defined the elements of these forms of violence and provides African States and the AU with clear and useful definitions on which to base their analyses and protection efforts.

This paper analyzed the commitments of African states through national and international law to protect civilians against SGBV during and after armed conflict; examined the forms of conflict-related SGBV where peace missions in African have operated (2000 to 2015); reviewed patterns of SGBV in these conflicts; addresses factors related to peacekeepers’ SEA of civilians; and presents evidence of how women’s inclusion in UN peace missions and peace processes affects overall mission success. It further examines the role of gender (in)equality and women’s physical (in)security as predictors of states’ likelihood to engage in violent internal and international conflict. It offers ten recommendations to better prevent SGBV.

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