Young Scholars Shine a Light on Sexual Violence in Conflict
By Catherine Moore, Coordinator for International Law Programs, Center for International and Comparative Law (CICL) at the University of Baltimore School of Law
Although my day-to-day job duties do not directly deal with sexual violence in conflict, my research interests include the protection of civilians in armed conflict, particularly vulnerable population groups such as women and children. I am currently researching the involvement of women in the Syrian conflict and the role of women, generally, in the peace process.
I was fortunate enough to be invited by the British Embassy in Washington, DC and DC Chapter of the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP) to participate in the “Missing Peace Young Scholars’ Contributions to the UK Global Summit” conference that was held at the United States Institute of Peace of May 22-23, 2014. I attended closed sessions on Thursday and the public session on Friday, where I was introduced to the Missing Peace Initiative’s Young Scholars. Their work, which spans across the globe and conflict areas, displayed the gaps that exist in protection, reporting, and accountability for sexual violence in conflict.
Despite the Rome Statute criminalizing sexual violence in conflict, there is a clear lack of protection on the ground, particularly when those perpetrating these types of crimes are state actors or UN peacekeeping forces. Two of the USIP Young Scholars – Michelle Lieby, a professor at the College of Wooster, and Sabrina Karim, a PhD student at Emory University, discussed how a large majority of sexual violence is perpetrated in absence of direct orders by superiors and is not a part of a larger scheme to use the violence as a weapon of war.