Responding to Wartime Sexual Violence: un Peacekeeping and the Protection Agenda

In: Global Responsibility to Protect

Recent years have seen an increased emphasis on protection of civilians and the problem of sexual violence. The Security Council has adopted a number of resolutions towards improving the status of women in the realm of peace and security. However, we do not know if this translates into action by the Security Council in terms of deploying peacekeepers to respond to sexual violence. In this paper, we examine to what extent the prevalence of sexual violence increases the likelihood that the un chooses to deploy peacekeeping operations. In doing so, we acknowledge that sexual violence is an underreported phenomenon, about which the Security Council may not have perfect information. We explore this question by using data from the svac dataset in all intrastate armed conflicts, 1989–2009, which provides information about sexual violence as reported by three main agencies. We examine to what extent sexual violence, as reported by different agencies, is correlated with a higher likelihood that the un deploys a peacekeeping operation. Our findings suggest that reports of sexual violence on average increase the likelihood of a peacekeeping operation. However, depending on which of the sources we consider, we find contradictory findings for whether the un responds differently to sexual violence perpetrated by states and non-state actors respectively.

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