Global commitments to end sexual violence in conflict must be strengthened and turned into action

19 Jun, 2023 | Press Releases

Brussels-Rome, 19 June 2023

Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, No Peace Without Justice reaffirms its support for victims and survivors of such crimes, committing to redouble its efforts to prevent them and hold those responsible to account.

Despite increased awareness and commitments by the international community over the last two decades, sexual violence – in its various forms – as a weapon of war continues to be a widespread and devastating crime committed in total impunity in numerous conflict-affected countries, such as Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Libya, Myanmar, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen, among others.

Accountability and redress for these past and ongoing human rights violations must be put at centre stage if there is to be any hope for reaching lasting stability, reconciliation and peace in affected countries.

Conflict-related sexual violence includes a broad range of crimes, such as rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy and enforced sterilisation. These crimes are often silenced and underreported, also due to the fear of stigma and shame felt by survivors. Besides these obstacles preventing abuses to be documented and verified, access to justice and reparations is another problematic area that needs to be addressed.

As highlighted by our work carried out in the recent years to empower Syrian refugee women, we believe that the response to conflict-related sexual violence must focus on survivors and echo their needs and realities. Empowering survivors means, among other things, to guarantee their access to justice and to health and psychosocial services and to combat the obstacles to their full participation in society, including stigma. To combat stigma, survivors must feel safe enough to report the cases of violence against them and reach out for the support they need. We remain convinced that the perspective of survivors must always be included in the definition of what constitutes sexual violence, which is why we participated as partners in the creation of the Hague Principles on Sexual Violence, developed with the input from over 500 survivors.

Impunity is also a significant obstacle to eliminating conflict-related sexual violence. It is of paramount importance to strengthen the fight for accountability through referrals to the ICC or any other mechanism available as well as to ensure the enactment of appropriate and efficient legislations at national levels, in order to deliver justice for survivors and prevent future violence in all contexts.

Much needs to be done for the global commitments to eliminate sexual violence to be met, but if this does not happen, sexual violence will be used once more as a weapon of war against women, girls, men and boys at risk.

For further information, contact Alison Smith, International Justice Director, on or Nicola Giovannini, Press & Public Affairs Coordinator, on