Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Using Counterterrorism laws to reduce wartime sexual violence?

The year after Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of girls from their school in Chibok in 2014 and the world learned that ISIS was abducting and selling Yezidi women and girls, the United Nations Security Council proclaimed that “certain terrorist groups” use sexual and gender-based violence as a “tactic of terrorism.“ Building on the longer-standing recognition of rape as a weapon of war, they meant that such groups use sexual violence in conflict to generate revenue, support recruitment, and destroy communities, all to advance their terrorism objectives.

To combat such tactical use of sexual violence, the Security Council called for “more integration” of its previously separate agendas: counterterrorism and violent extremism; and women, peace, and security (WPS). This further developed a commitment by the council several years earlier to give attention to WPS in the fight against terrorism. More recently, the council has also called on States to ensure their domestic efforts to combat terrorism give consideration to sexual and gender-based violence.
So begins an article on JustSecurity by Lauren Aarons, 7 December 2020. The author suggests several reasons why it is not a good idea.
Efforts to invoke the legal frameworks of counterterrorism to address sexual violence in conflict have glossed over the human rights implications of these laws and trials, which often fail to respect basic fair-trial guarantees and cause terrible harms, including to women. In promoting them, proponents risk legitimizing abusive counterterrorism laws and procedures and increasing their use. They also may undermine broader efforts to advance equality and human rights protection for women.

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