Article | Last updated: 2018-11-21 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Sexual violence in armed conflict is a serious form of abuse. It is a violation of international law and a major, persistent threat to security. Sexual violence is sometimes used strategically and tactically by armed groups; at other times it forms part of a generally high level of violence. Either way, this type of violence is a widespread threat and a cause of destabilisation, both during and after conflicts.
Research shows that sexual and gender-based of violence does not necessarily decrease when a conflict ends. It is therefore important to take a long-term perspective on preventive measures, including the time before, during and after the conflict.
Norway’s efforts to combat conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence
Norway’s efforts to combat conflict-related sexual violence are broad in scope and encompass conflict prevention, peace processes, peacebuilding, and peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts. Norway cooperates with the UN, regional organisations and civil society in this work.
- Combating conflict-related sexual violence is a cross-cutting priority in Norway’s humanitarian efforts and peace and security work. This focus has been strengthened with the Government’s new humanitarian strategy and the new national action plan on women, peace and security.
- We address this issue at every step of the way, seeking to:
- prevent sexual violence from occurring,
- ensure that victims are given support and compensation,
- counter stigma,
- ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted, and
- promote compliance with international law and human rights.
- Men are also affected, and children who are conceived through sexual violence need special follow-up.
- For Norway it is important to ensure that survivors are actively involved and that their voices are heard. The rehabilitation of survivors helps to create a good foundation for sustainable peace, both for the survivors themselves and for their communities.
- Norway is now supporting more initiatives in this field and providing more funding for related efforts in development cooperation and humanitarian assistance. Our embassies are following up this work, both politically and in practical terms.
- Norway has taken an initiative to cooperate with the UN on a handbook for preventing and dealing with conflict-related sexual violence. It is to be used by personnel in UN peacekeeping operations, and is the first ‘whole-of-mission’ handbook to address this issue. It will be launched in a few months, and will be owned by the UN.
Norwegian efforts to combat conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence also include the following:
- When acting as a facilitator in peace processes and peace negotiations, Norway urges the parties to discuss sexual violence, and to commit themselves to preventing and combating sexual violence.
- For the past 20 years, Norway has been engaged in the Training for Peace (TfP) programme, which addresses sexual violence in conflict from a security policy perspective. Through TfP partners, such as the Institute for Security Studies, Accord and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Norway has supported training in issues related to sexual violence in conflict in a number of African countries.
- Norway supports the work of the African Union’s Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, Bineta Diop.
- Norway is involved in the work of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms Pramila Patten.
- Both ISIL and Boko Haram employ sexual violence as a strategy. Combating sexual violence is therefore a key aspect of our efforts to combat violent extremism.
- The Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies, which was established in 2013, emphasises the importance of providing protection from the very beginning of a humanitarian crisis. Norway has joined the Call to Action, and is stepping up its efforts in this context.
- Targeted efforts to combat gender-based and sexual violence and to promote women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health under the budget items for humanitarian aid amounted to NOK 158 million in 2017. This is a 40 % increase compared to 2016. These funds were allocated to concrete action on the ground and to efforts to strengthen the gender perspective in the various phases of humanitarian response. They were channelled through UN organisations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Norwegian NGOs.
- These efforts have continued in 2018. Norway has increased its funding to the ICRC in response to the special appeal on addressing sexual violence. Funding was increased for the work of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Syria on addressing gender-based violence and promoting sexual and reproductive health. In addition, support for the work of Norwegian Church Aid in combating sexual and gender-based violence has been increased. This includes support for NCA’s efforts in DR Congo and for minorities in Syria and its neighbouring countries.