Gender-Based Violence and the Arms Trade

In: Global Responsibility to Protect
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  • 1 Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), USA

This article explains gender-based violence (gbv) and the relationship between gbv and the international arms trade. It examines how governments and activists worked together to ensure that the Arms Trade Treaty included a legally binding provision to prevent gbv, and how this provision has been used—or not used—since the Treaty’s adoption in 2013. It also encourages states, arms producers, lawyers, and activists to work to ensure that human lives and wellbeing are prioritised over profits as an imperative to realising the att’s objective and purpose, and to ensuring respect for the rule of law and international law.


This article explains gender-based violence (gbv) and the relationship between gbv and the international arms trade. It examines how governments and activists worked together to ensure that the Arms Trade Treaty included a legally binding provision to prevent gbv, and how this provision has been used—or not used—since the Treaty’s adoption in 2013. It also encourages states, arms producers, lawyers, and activists to work to ensure that human lives and wellbeing are prioritised over profits as an imperative to realising the att’s objective and purpose, and to ensuring respect for the rule of law and international law.

The Arms Trade Treaty (att) is the first international treaty to explicitly recognise the links between the international arms trade and gender-based violence (gbv). The Treaty is groundbreaking in its requirement of assessing the risk of gbv as a distinct violation of international human rights law and international humanitarian law when making arms export decisions. Yet six years on, many governments have admitted they are struggling to understand how to implement this provision of the att, meaning that gender-based atrocities are continuing to be fuelled by the international arms trade. This article seeks to help remedy this by providing an overview of what gbv is, what its relationship to the arms trade is, and how activists and others have used the att and other mechanisms to prevent gbv by preventing arms transfers.

1 What Is gbv?

gbv is violence that is directed at a person because of their sex and/or because of socially constructed gender roles1 — that is, because of sexual orientation, gender identity, or non-conforming behaviour or presentation of sex and gender. The normative roles and understandings associated with sex, gender, and sexuality also interact with other factors, such as age, class, and race. The term gbv recognises that violence takes place as a result of unequal power relations and discrimination in society.2

gbv exists in and is widespread in all countries and all societies. It is a human rights violation and, when carried out during armed conflict, is a violation of international humanitarian law and can constitute a crime against humanity or war crime. Acts of gbv can include sexual violence, such as sexual harassment, rape, forced prostitution, sex trafficking and sexual slavery, and harmful customary or traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, forced marriages, and honour crimes; physical violence, such as murder, assault, domestic violence, human trafficking and slavery, forced sterilisation, and forced abortion; emotional and psychological violence, such as abuse, humiliation, and confinement; and socioeconomic violence, such as discrimination and/or denial of opportunities and services, and prevention of the exercise and enjoyment of civil, social, economic, cultural, and political rights.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (icrc) explains that while these forms of violence can be perpetrated against any individual, they constitute gbv because they have differential gendered impacts. For example, forms of sexual violence are perpetrated differently against a person depending on their sex; the health consequences of sexual violence differ based on sex; causes of sexual violence differ based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity; and the societal impact and stigmatisation of sexual violence differs depending on these factors, too.3

Men and boys constitute the majority of victims of violent death worldwide. According to the United Nations, half a million people die from armed conflict or armed violence every year. About 84 per cent of these are male and less than 16 per cent are female.4 Men and boys are subject to gbv — including forced recruitment, arbitrary detention, sexual violence, or mass killing on the basis of sex.5 But women and girls, as well as lgbtq + people, are the primary targets for gbv. The UN Office for Drugs and Crime estimates that 87,000 women were intentionally killed in 2017. About 58 per cent of them were killed by intimate partners or other family members — ‘meaning that 137 women across the world are killed by a member of their own family every day’.6 There are an estimated 5000 murders of women and girls in the name of ‘honour’ each year worldwide, although this is believed to be an underestimate.7 Meanwhile, ‘non-intimate’ gbv, including murder, sexual abuse, and sexual torture, is disproportionately targeted against women and girls.8 lgbtq + people also face extraordinary levels of physical and sexual violence. In November 2018, the Trans Murder Monitoring research project noted 369 murders of trans and gender-diverse people over the past year.9 The National Center for Transgender Equality notes that ‘more than one in four trans people has faced a bias-driven assault, and rates are higher for trans women and trans people of color’.10

2 What Is the Connection between gbv and the Arms Trade?

The proliferation of weapons through the international arms trade can facilitate all forms of gbv inside and outside of armed conflict. All conventional weapons can be used to inflict violence on people based on discriminating norms and practices relating to their specific sex or gender identity or role in society. From small arms used in femicides or rape to the use of armed drones to target military-aged men, weapons facilitate gbv.

The United Nations notes, ‘Most of the world’s estimated 875 million small arms are in male hands’ and men are responsible for the most use of small arms and for perpetrating the most armed violence. This has serious implications for gbv, as small arms are used in approximately one-third of all killings of women and girls.11 The ywca notes that in the United States, approximately 4.5 million women have been threatened with a gun by an intimate partner, and notes the connection with mass shootings: ‘shooters killed intimate partners or other family members in at least 54 percent of mass shootings’, and make up 50 per cent of the victims in such shootings — often women are targeted due to the misogyny of mass shooters.12

Gun violence is particularly dangerous for women of colour, who in the United States ‘are nearly three times as likely to be murdered with a gun than white women’.13 Transgender women of colour face an even higher increased risk of gun violence: ‘transgender women are four times more likely to experience gun violence than cisgender women, and nearly 85 percent of transgender victims are women of color’.14 Overall, guns seem to be a leading choice for the murder of lgbtq + people. Statistics are difficult to measure because crime and gun violence statistics ‘typically do not measure victims’ or perpetrators’ sexual orientations, gender identities, or gender expressions’, notes a report from the University of California Los Angeles (ucla).15 However, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs tracked that guns were used in about 60 per cent of bias-motivated homicides of lgbtq + people in the United States, and that firearms are also frequently used to intimidate and threaten lgbtq + people.16

This is not a uniquely American phenomenon; lgbtq + people — and those perceived to be transgressing gender norms — are victims of gun violence around the world. This can include during armed conflict, when lgbtq + persons, ‘who are often among the least protected of all groups, face additional perils created by the chaotic environment and breakdown of law and order’.17 In Iraq, for example, Daesh has shot women who violated social norms for ‘being lesbians’ and has killed men and boys ‘whom it deems to have transgressed gender norms by failing to adhere to its strict dress and appearance code, often alleging that they are homosexual or insufficiently masculine’.18 In Colombia, Peru, and throughout Central America, lgbtq + people have been murdered by armed groups and state forces during armed conflict.19 ‘Violence against the lgbtq + community was not invented’ during conflict, says Marcela Sánchez, director of Bogotá-based Colombia Diversa. ‘But we’ve found that this violence increases in conflict zones’.20

Small arms are not just used to kill. In the home, in the community, or at the state level, guns are prevalent in the commission of many acts of gbv. As activists such as Jasmin Galace of the Philippines have noted, small arms ‘are the weapons of choice in domestic violence, in political violence and in sexual violence in armed conflict situations’.21 This is shown clearly across regional and national studies on the impacts of gun violence and small arms proliferation.22 Sexual violence is often widely and systematically employed against civilians during armed conflict. During armed conflicts that disturbed the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (drc), for example, tens of thousands of women and girls have suffered rapes and sexual assaults, systematically perpetrated at gunpoint by armed groups. The drc has also seen deportations of women and girls for the purpose of sexual slavery, early marriages, increased numbers of unwanted children, widespread contamination and use of hiv/aids as weapons of war, emergence of child soldiers, dislocation of families, stigmatisation of women who have experienced sexual abuse, and a growing number of women who head households as men are being slaughtered.23 In Cameroon, since 2016 the uprisings in English-speaking areas have led to fighting between those demanding secession and national armed forces. Small arms and other weapons are used to commit acts of gbv — women are being raped, kidnapped, and murdered by armed groups and state security forces; they are forced to stop going to school and work; and men are being murdered as ‘protectors’ of their families.24

‘Weapons are consistently used as a symbol of power, authority, and their persistent availability contributes to escalating conflicts’, writes drc activist Annie Matundu-Mbambi. The proliferation of small arms and light weapons ‘jeopardises women’s ability to participate in conflict resolution, elections, governance and post-conflict reconstruction processes’.25 Similarly, when it comes to gbv against lgbtq + people, ‘mass shootings and hate crimes targeting lgbt people are especially potent forms of violence. They terrorize not only those immediately and physically impacted, but the entire community’.26

While small arms are prolific in their use to facilitate acts of gbv, they are not the only weapons that can be and have been used to do so. Weapons such as battle tanks and armoured vehicles can be used to block roads or surround a village in order force women or men to be cornered or trapped and subsequently raped, killed, or abducted. Warships can be used for trafficking women and girls or to block a harbour for the same purposes as using a tank or armoured vehicle for blocking roads.27 Weapons that use surveillance to build ‘target profiles’ for people, such as armed drones, are also capable of being used to facilitate gbv. The practice of counting all males of a military age as militants before or after drone strikes, assuming them to be potential or actual combatants or militants, is a form of gbv.28

While not used to directly commit acts of gbv, the use of some weapons can have gendered impacts and/or can lead to heightened risk of gbv. Explosive weapons use blast and fragmentation to kill and injure people in the area where they detonate, as well as to damage objects, buildings, and infrastructure. When used in populated areas they cause high levels of harm to individuals, communities, and infrastructure. While bombing in towns and cities may seem gender-blind, there are serious gendered impacts. Destruction of hospitals, and a general fear of moving around in an armed conflict setting, have grave implications for maternal health. Women and girls who survive explosive weapon attacks tend to face higher risks of stigmatisation and marginalisation by their families or spouses because of their injuries or disfigurement. Bombing in populated areas also leads to forced displacement, and displaced women, girls, and lgbtq + people have a higher risk of gbv, including sexual violence, harassment, trafficking, forced prostitution, and other crimes.29

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern with sexual violence and abuse of refugee women fleeing to Europe from conflicts in the Middle East.30 In Mosul, Iraq, where Iraqi and US forces led a coalition to ‘liberate’ the city from Daesh in 2016–2017, airstrikes decimated most of Western Mosul. By July 2017, there were roughly 800 airstrikes per month, using explosive weapons with wide area effects such as Improvised Rocked Assisted Munitions.31 After the bombing stopped and the city was declared ‘liberated’, Mosulite civilians suffered greatly, including due to gbv. ‘Women were pushed to provide sexual services in exchange for food or even a piece of bread to feed their children, a safe place to shelter them, or even for the chance to reach a unhcr shelter’, a wilpf study found.32 ‘Such exploitation was not limited to fighters and bandits; it was reported that women who were able to flee the armed conflicts were also sexually exploited by the shelters’ guards and humanitarian agents providing them with water, sanitation, and food’.

3 gbv and the att

Despite all of the evidence of the relationship between the arms trade and gbv, securing a legally binding provision in the att dedicated to preventing gbv was not an easy feat. When states, civil society, and international organisations came together in 2006 to initiate a negotiation process for what would become the att, the key motivation for many was to disrupt the relentless flows of weapons that perpetuate cycles of armed violence and armed conflict around the world.33 But ensuring inclusion of a gender perspective was not a priority for most governments nor civil society. Thus at the beginning of the process, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (wilpf) and the International Action Network on Small Arms Women’s Network (iansa Women’s Network) initiated an advocacy and education campaign seeking a legally binding provision in the Treaty to prevent arms transfers where there is risk of gbv.34 With the aim of making the gendered consequences and women’s experiences of armed violence visible, wilpf and others organisations published other pieces of analysis and advocacy.35 By the time negotiations were underway, over 100 non-governmental organisations worldwide had signed onto a declaration calling for the inclusion of gbv in the treaty. This helped elevate the issue within the conference room, where wilpf, iansa Women’s Network, Amnesty International, and other organisations were conducting advocacy directly with governments.

Certain governments pushed back against these efforts, however. The Holy See actively campaigned to block any reference to ‘gender’ in the Treaty, preferring references to ‘violence against women and children’. Activists explained the difference between gbv and violence against women, arguing that the broader concept of gbv is important for capturing violence perpetrated on the basis of sex, sexuality, gender identity, or transgression of gender norms, rather than only against a specific sex.36 But delegates from a handful of countries followed the Holy See’s lead and insisted that violence against women be used instead of gbv.

Support from a high number of states was thus required to ensure the Treaty referred to gbv and to make sure that the relevant criterion was legally binding. A critical turning point occurred on 20 July 2012 during the first round of att negotiations, when Nicole Améline, the French expert from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (cedaw Committee) and a former minister and parliamentarian, learned at a wilpf-organised event that France was not supportive of including language on gbv in the att. She approached the head of the French delegation for a brief discussion. Minutes later, France indicated to the Chair that it wanted to take the floor, and proceeded to state that gbv is a ‘main preoccupation’ for its government and it must be in the criteria of the att. The French delegate also noted that the ‘notion of gender is already very well established within the UN’. The European Union had not yet been on board, but it soon thereafter changed its position and became a staunch supporter of the provision. After that, the momentum turned in favour of the inclusion of gbv in the Treaty.37

Another critical factor in securing prevention of gbv as a legally binding criterion in the Treaty was Iceland’s decision to make this a key priority for its delegation. Supported by a number of other delegations, Iceland worked closely with iansa Women’s Network and wilpf, among others, to encourage as many governments as possible to support the inclusion of gbv in the Treaty and to help craft language for the treaty text. As a result of this active advocacy partnership, support for the legally binding gbv provision went from a handful of states at the beginning of the preparatory process, to seventy-five by the end of the first round of negotiations in July 2012, to one hundred by the end of the second round in March 2013.38

The final treaty includes the stipulation that an arms exporting state party to the att, in making its export risk assessment mandated by the Treaty, ‘shall take into account the risk of the conventional arms [covered by the Treaty] being used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against women and children’.39 The Treaty also argues in the preamble ‘that civilians, particularly women and children, account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict and armed violence’. This is, as discussed before, an erroneous assertion, as men actually constitute the highest number of direct victims, but women, girls, and lgbtq+ are disproportionately affected in relation to their participation in armed conflict or armed violence. It is also patronising to group women and children together as having equivalent vulnerabilities and agencies. Meanwhile, language suggested during negotiations about the importance of women’s participation in disarmament and arms control-related work was deleted from the final version of the Treaty. Thus, the final version reflects the negotiations’ focus on the protection of women and women’s vulnerability, rather than on their agency or on how unequal gender relations cause that vulnerability.40

Despite these concerns, the inclusion of a legally binding provision on preventing gbv in the att is significant. It is the first time the connections between gbv and the arms trade have been made in an international treaty. Thus after the att was adopted, wilpf and other organisations, as well as the icrc, produced materials outlining how states — particularly arms export licensing officials — could evaluate the risk of gbv in their legally mandated risk assessment processes.41 These resources provided information about gbv, how weapons could be used to facilitate it, risk factors to look for, where to find such information about risks, and more. Despite these efforts, many governments continued to indicate that they did not have sufficient information to adequately implement article 7(4). In October 2018, the Latvian president-elect of the Fifth Conference of States Parties (csp5) announced that the theme of the 2019 Conference would be the gender provisions of the att, in order to provide greater clarity on these aspects of the Treaty. This provided an opportunity for ngos, the icrc — and governments who prioritised preventing gbv — to conduct training sessions with export officials and diplomats, and present the publications and resources that had been produced over the past few years.

In its final outcome document, csp5 adopted recommendations related to ‘gender balance’ in representation at att meetings, the gendered impact of armed violence and conflict, and risk assessments on gbv.42 Among other things, these recommendations encourage states parties to provide information on their national practices and possible ‘mitigating measures’ related to gbv risk assessments; and to collect gender-disaggregated data on victims of armed conflict and violence. They also mandate the Treaty’s implementation working group to draft elements of a voluntary training guide on this issue, with the participation of relevant stakeholders.

These are valuable recommendations that, if implemented, could help the att live up to its potential in helping to prevent gbv. However, ‘they do not necessarily reflect the type of meaningful change in perspective, policy, and practice that will have an impact on the ground’, warned wilpf during the Conference. ‘The understanding and knowledge that accumulates here as a result of these recommendations must be channelled into policy and programming at local and national levels’.43

Meanwhile, other UN bodies and mechanisms have been stepping up to provide assessments and recommendations for better implementation of the att and other arms trade-related obligations.

During att negotiations in July 2012, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (cedaw) Committee adopted a strong statement on the need for a gender perspective in the att. It recalled ‘that the arms trade has specific gender dimensions and direct links to discrimination and gender-based violence against women with far reaching implications for efforts to consolidate peace, security, gender equality, and to secure development’.44 After the Treaty was adopted, the cedaw Committee issued a general recommendation that highlighted the need for ‘robust and effective regulation of the arms trade’ to prevent gbv.45 Recommendation 30 also noted that increasing rates of gbv can serve as an early warning of armed conflict and that proliferation of conventional weapons affects women in situations of armed conflict, domestic violence, and also as protestors or actors in resistance movements. It encouraged states to ‘address the gendered impact of international transfers of arms, especially small and illicit arms including through the ratification and implementation’ of the att.

In July 2019, the Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a resolution on the impact of arms transfers on human rights.46 The resolution acknowledges the role arms transfers can play in facilitating gender-based violence and invites states to consider the recommendations produced by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2017.47 The Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (cescr) has recommended that governments suspend arms export licenses when there is a risk that arms could be used to violate human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights.48

Despite the ongoing efforts to provide information, resources, and guidance for att implementation, six years after the Treaty entered into force it is clear that its potential as a humanitarian, life-saving mechanism is not yet being appropriately utilised. Implementation failures, primarily by arms exporting and importing countries, mean that the flow of weapons — and thus the violence — has not been significantly curtailed. It is not yet clear what impact the att’s restrictions and prohibitions have had on actually stopping arms transfers that might have led to or perpetuated violence. But we have plenty of examples of cases in which the arms transfers were not stopped, leading to grave humanitarian disasters. Our world is being torn apart by violence, fuelled by weapons and other technologies of violence and repression. The att should be a serious tool to prevent human suffering but so far it is not living up to this task.

This is largely because of the arms industry, which continues to produce weapons and pushes their sale into zones of conflict and violence in the pursuit of profit. The value of the international arms trade was estimated to have been at least 95 billion usd in 2017. The top one hundred arms companies made an estimated 398.2 billion usd in 2017. The top five arms exporters — the United States, Russia, France, Germany, and China — are responsible for about 75 per cent of the arms trade.49 Many of the top arms importers are using these weapons in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest arms importer since 2014, is actively bombing populated areas in Yemen, destroying homes, school, hospitals, and markets in clear violation of international humanitarian law (ihl) and human rights.50 The top five arms exporters to Saudi Arabia are the United States, United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Germany.51 Most of these were so-called champions of the att and several claimed that preserving ihl was their key priority in the Treaty’s development. Meanwhile, Russia’s top clients include India, Egypt, China, and Indonesia — not to mention its participation in ongoing atrocities in Syria — while China’s top recipients of its arms exports include Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.52

4 Way Forward

Looking at lists of arms exporters and the top destinations for weapons, such as those prepared by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, accurately matches patterns of violence and of profit around the world. Arms exporters are raking in the cash while civilians around the world suffer mass atrocities. Shifting away from profits and the perpetuation of violence towards people and peace requires a reconfiguration of how we think about and deal with issues of security. This means focusing on prevention of conflict rather than fuelling the fire of those that have already begun. It means changing national budgets to fund environmental protection and human security instead of weapons and wars. Military spending directly and indirectly diverts and reduces available resources for combatting climate change, poverty, and social welfare. It also reinforces weapons as the solution to problems, rather than nonviolent means of conflict resolution and prevention. In the immediate term, arms transfers to recipients that violate human rights and ihl must end. International arms deals must be subjected to appropriate scrutiny rather than accepted as legitimate business.

This was always a challenge with the att — that it risked legitimising what is arguably an illegitimate business of fuelling armed conflict and armed violence around the world. This is why activist engagement has been crucial to advancing the Treaty’s implementation as a violence prevention rather than war profiteering mechanism. In this context, wilpf has submitted reports to the cedaw Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights highlighting governments’ violations of the att, including the gbv provisions.53 Activist groups in Belgium, Canada, Italy, and the United Kingdom, among others, have launched litigation against their governments for approving arms licences and exports to Saudi Arabia and other members of the coalition that is bombing Yemen.54 In 2019, the UK Court of Appeals found that the UK Secretary of State should have considered the large body of evidence indicating a pattern of ihl breaches to assess the risks associated with continuing sales to Saudi Arabia and overturned the Secretary’s decision to continue arms sales.55 These types of actions are imperative to force governments to abide by their Treaty obligations and to bring governments’ actions into the public eye. But more must be done, by governments, lawyers, and activists, to hold arms producing companies to account and to enforce the att and other national and regional laws and norms against arms transfers and war profiteering.

Governments also need to get serious about stopping arms transfers that facilitate gbv. Murder, sexual violence, and other violence against women, men, and lgbtq+ people on the basis of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity constitute atrocities that can be prevented. Stopping arms flows that facilitate or exacerbate this violence is imperative. The att’s provision on gbv is not an afterthought or a recommendation. It is a legally-binding, hard-won component of international law that must be respected and fully implemented. Many of the top arms exporters in the world include not just ‘att champions’ but also many self-described champions of the Women, Peace and Security agenda as set out in UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and subsequent resolutions. Ostensibly, these countries should be prioritising their att obligations and their commitment to advancing women’s rights and gender equality over profits from weapon sales, and yet, we see governments with feminist foreign policies, such as Canada, selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, one of the most misogynistic governments in the world that is currently bombing populated areas in Yemen.

To advance these efforts, we need to address the inequalities in who gets to participate in discussions and decisions about the arms trade. To change whose perspectives are considered credible and realistic means increasing diversity of participation. This is not just about adding women in delegations to att Conferences of States Parties and in governmental decision making, but also including those who have survived the violence being discussed and those who have been traditionally excluded from these spaces: lgbtq+ people, nonwhite and nonwestern people, people with disabilities, and those with socioeconomic disadvantages. Conversations about weapons and war are almost never led by — or have meaningful participation of — those who live with the daily realities of either. To truly address the humanitarian imperatives that have allegedly brought states to adopt the att, the perspectives of those who live with the consequences of the arms trade should be the ones that matter most, not least.

If att states parties are serious about their Treaty achieving its stated purpose of reducing human suffering and contributing to international peace and security, they need to get serious about holding each other to account for violations and to ending their own transfers that lead to violence, conflict, and suffering around the world. They should embrace this as a moral imperative, but also in order to help prevent the forced displacement from conflict and environmental destruction that necessitates people seeking shelter in other countries. They should also embrace it as part of an effort to preserve and respect the rule of law — something many of these governments claim to seek in this era of erosion of respect for international law.56


This is the definition of ‘gender-based crimes’ given by the International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor in its ‘Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes’, June 2014, p. 3,—June-2014.pdf, accessed 17 September 2019.


See for example the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, ‘Sexual and Gender-Based Violence’,, accessed 13 September 2019.


icrc (International Committee of the Red Cross), ‘International Humanitarian Law and Gender-Based Violence in the Context of the Arms Trade Treaty,’ International Committee of the Red Cross Working Paper, April 2019.


mosaic (Modular Small-arms-control Implementation Compendium),Women, Men and the Gendered Nature of Small Arms and Light Weapons, United Nations, 2018, p. 5,, accessed 17 September 2019.


See for example R. Charli Carpenter, ‘Recognizing Gender-Based Violence Against Civilian Men and Boys in Conflict Situations’, Security Dialogue, 37/1: 83–103 (March 2006); R. Charli Carpenter, ‘Women, Children and Other Vulnerable Groups: Gender, Strategic Frames and the Protection of Civilians as a Transnational Issue’, International Studies Quarterly, 49/2: 295–344 (June 2005); icrc, ‘International Humanitarian Law and Gender-Based Violence in the Context of the Arms Trade Treaty’; and P. Viseur Sellers, ‘(Re)considering Gender Jurisprudence’, in Fionnuala Ní Aoláin et al. (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Conflict (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), pp. 217–220.


unodc (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), Global Study on Homicide: Gender-­related Killings of Women and Girls, Vienna, July 2019, p. 10,, accessed 17 September 2019.


UN News Center, ‘Impunity for Domestic Violence, ‘Honour Killings’ Cannot Continue — UN Official’, 15 February 2011.


who (World Health Organization), ‘Understanding and Addressing Violence Against Women’, 2012,, accessed 17 September 2019.


tmm Update Trans Day of Remembrance 2018 — Press Release’, TvT Trans Murder Monitoring, Transgender Europe, 12 November 2018,, accessed 17 September 2019.


National Center for Transgender Equality, ‘Issues: Anti-Violence’,, accessed 17 September 2019.


mosaic, Women, Men and the Gendered Nature of Small Arms and Light Weapons, p. 5.


ywca, ‘Preventing Gun Violence’.


ywca, ‘Preventing Gun Violence’.


Adam P. Romero, Ari M. Shaw, and Kerith J. Conron, Gun Violence against Sexual and Gender Minorities in the United States: A Review of Research Findings and Needs (Los Angeles, CA: The Williams Institute, April 2019), p. 5.


Beverly Tillery, Audacia Ray, Eliel Cruz, and Emily Waters, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and hiv-Affected Hate and Intimate Partner Violence in 2017 (New York: National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 2018), p. 13.


Alon Margalit, ‘Still a Blind Spot: The Protection of lgbt Persons During Armed Conflict and Other Situations of Violence’, International Review of the Red Cross, 100/907–909: 237–265 (2018), p. 237.


Communication to the icc Prosecutor Pursuant to Article 15 of the Rome Statute Requesting a Preliminary Examination into the Situation of: Gender-Based Persecution and Torture as Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (isil) in Iraq, The Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic of the City University of New York (cuny) School of Law, madre, and The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, 8 November 2017, p. 25,, accessed 14 September 2019.


See for example Simon West, ‘Colombia’s lgbtq Community: Victims of Armed Conflict’, nbc News, 7 September 2016,, accessed 24 September 2019; Rael Mora, ‘Peru: lgbt Community Targeted During Armed Conflict’, telesur, 21 November 2014,, accessed 24 September 2019; iachr (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights), Violence against lgbti Persons in the Americas, 12 November 2015,, accessed 24 September 2019.


West, ‘Colombia’s lgbtq Community’.


Corey Barr with Sarah Masters, Why Women? Effective Engagement for Small Arms Control (London: International Action Network on Small Arms, 2011), p. 9.


See for example Hannah Lewis, Arms, Gender and Security in the Pacific (Sydney: Pacific Small Arms Action Group, 2014); Rebecca Gerome, Women, Gender and Gun Violence in the Middle East (London: International Action Network on Small Arms, 2011); and Jasmin Blessing, Henri Myrttinen, Nicola Popovic, and Nicole Stolze, ‘Como te haces entender?’: Gender and Gun Cultures in the Caribbean Context (Santo Domingo: United Nations International Research and Training, Institute for the Advancement of Women, 2010).


Annie Matundu-Mbambi, ‘National and Local Perspectives on Preventing Gender-Based Violence through Arms Control: drc — The Link between the Proliferation of salw and Gender-based Violence’, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, August 2019,, accessed 17 September 2019.


Guy Blaise Feugap, ‘National and Local Perspectives on Preventing Gender-Based Violence through Arms Control: Cameroon — Gender and Armed Violence: A Look at the Situation in Cameroon’, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, August 2019,, accessed 17 September 2019.


Matundu-Mbambi, ‘National and Local Perspectives on Preventing Gender-Based Violence through Arms Control’, p. 2.


Romero, Shaw, and Conron, Gun Violence against Sexual and Gender Minorities in the United States, p. 4.


Raluca Muresan, Report from the Central and Eastern European Regional Training on the Gender-based Violence Criteria in the Arms Trade Treaty, Presentation to ‘Workshop on Gender and the Arms Trade Treaty’ hosted by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, 22 August 2019.


Ray Acheson et al., Sex and Drone Strikes: Gender and Identity in Targeting and Casualty Analysis, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and Article 36, 2014.


Gabriella Irsten, Women and Explosive Weapons, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 2013.


Tim Gaynor, ‘unhrc Concerned at Reports of Sexual Violence against Refugee Women and Children’, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 23 October 2015,, accessed 17 September 2019.


See Amnesty International, At Any Cost: The Civilian Catastrophe in Western Mosul, Iraq, 2017; and Report on the Protection of Civilians in the Context of the Ninewa: Operations and the Retaking of Mosul City, 17 October 2016–10 July 2017, United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq and United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2017.


Rasha Jarhum and Alice Bonfatti, We Are Still Here: Mosulite Women 500 Days After the Conclusion of the Coalition Military Operation, wilpf (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom), 2019, p. 9.


Ray Acheson, ‘Struggling for the Soul of the att’, att Monitor, 9/6 (2016), p. 1,, accessed 21 January 2020.


For a more comprehensive overview of the history of including gbv in the att, see Ray Acheson and Maria Butler, ‘wps and the Arms Trade Treaty’, in Jacqui True and Sara Davies (eds.), The Oxford Handbook on Women, Peace and Security (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019).


See for example ‘The Arms Trade Treaty: Securing Women’s Rights and Gender Equality: A united Call to Explicitly Include Gender-based Violence in the Criteria’, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, iansa Women’s Network, Amnesty International, and Religions for Peace, June 2012,, accessed 21 January 2020; Christine Chinkin, ­Gender and the Arms Trade Treaty — A Legal Overview (Geneva: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 2012),, accessed 21 January 2020; and Caroline Green, Deepayan Basu Ray, Claire Mortimer, and Kate Stone, ‘Gender-based Violence and the Arms Trade Treaty: Reflections from a Campaigning and Legal Perspective’, Gender & Development, 21/3: 551–562 (2013).


Rebecca Gerome and Maria Butler, ‘A Step back? “Gender-Based Violence” vs “Violence against Women and Children”’, att Monitor, 5/11 (2012), pp. 2–3,, accessed 21 January 2020.


Acheson and Butler, ‘wps and the Arms Trade Treaty’, p. 692.


Ray Acheson, ‘100 States Support Strengthening the Criterion on Preventing Gender-based Violence’, att Monitor, 6/8 (2013), p. 5,, accessed 21 January 2020; see also list of 75 supportive states by end of July 2012:, accessed 21 January 2020.


The Arms Trade Treaty, art. 7(4).


Acheson and Butler, ‘wps and the Arms Trade Treaty’, p. 691; also see Ray Acheson, Maria Butler, and Sofia Tuvestad, ‘Preventing Armed Gender-based Violence: A Binding Requirement in the New Draft att Text’, att Monitor, 6/9 (2013), p. 9,, accessed 21 January 2020.


See for example Rebecca Gerome, Preventing Gender-based Violence through Arms Control: Tools and Guidelines to Implement the Arms Trade Treaty and UN Programme of Action (New York: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 2016); How to Use the Arms Trade Treaty to Address Gender-based Violence: A Practical Guide for Risk Assessment (New York: Control Arms, 2018); Interpreting the Arms Trade Treaty: International Human Rights Law and Gender-based Violence in Article 7 Risk Assessments, International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School and Control Arms, 2019; and icrc, ‘International Humanitarian Law and Gender-based Violence in the Context of the Arms Trade Treaty’.


Final Report, Arms Trade Treaty Fifth Conference of States Parties, att/csp5/2019/sec/536/Conf.FinRep.Rev1, 30 August 2019, pp. 5–6.


wilpf Statement to the Fifth Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty on ­Gender-based Violence, Arms Trade Treaty Fifth Conference of States Parties, Geneva, Switzerland, 26 August 2019.


Statement of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on the Need for a Gender Perspective in the Text of the Arms Trade Treaty, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 24 July 2012.


General Recommendation No. 30 on Women in Conflict Prevention, Conflict, and Post-­Conflict Situations, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, cedaw/C/GC/30, 1 November 2013.


Impact of Arms Transfers on Human Rights, Human Rights Council, A/hrc/41/L.22/Rev.1, 12 July 2019.


The Impact of Arms Transfers on the Enjoyment of Human Rights: Report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Council, A/hrc/35/8, 3 May 2017.


Concluding Observations on the Sixth Periodic Report of the United Kingdom of Great ­Britain and Northern Ireland, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, E/C.12/gbr/CO/6, 14 July 2016. Also see ‘UK Called to Control its Arms Exports after Disastrous Consequences for Human Rights in Yemen’, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 6 July 2016.


AI (Amnesty International), ‘Killer Facts 2019: The Scale of the Global Arms Trade’, 23 ­August 2019,, accessed 25 September 2019.


See for example Situation of Human Rights in Yemen, Including Violations and Abuses since September 2014, A/hrc/42/17, Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 1 August 2019,, accessed 21 January 2020.


Pieter D. Wezeman, Aude Fleurant, Alexandra Kuimova, Nan Tian, and Siemont T. Wezeman, ‘Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2018’, sipri Fact Sheet, March 2019,, accessed 21 January 2020.


Alexander Kruglov, ‘Business Booming for Russia’s Arms Traders’, AsiaTimes, 22 April 2019,, accessed 21 January 2020; China Power, ‘How Dominant is China in the Global Arms Trade?’, 26 April 2018,, accessed 21 January 2020.


See for example Explosive Weapons and the Right to Health, Education, and Adequate Housing: Extraterritorial Obligations of France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom under cescr, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Shadow Reports to cescr 58th Session, 2016; and The Impact of Germany’s Arms Transfers on Women: Germany’s Extraterritorial Obligations under cedaw, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, Joint Shadow Report, 2 February 2017.


Martina Daelli, ‘Side Event Report: Legal Reviews—the Arms Trade Treaty and Yemen’, att Monitor, 12/8 (2019), p. 7.


See Campaign against Arms Trade for details:, accessed 25 September 2019.


France and Germany, for example, launched the ‘Alliance for Multilateralism’ at the United Nations in 2019. See Jean-Yves Le Drian and Heiko Mass, ‘No, Multilateralism is not Outdated!’ Le Figaro, 12 November 2019,, accessed 21 January 2020.

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