Women’s Rights in Armed Conflict under International Law

Protections for women’s rights in armed conflict (WRAC) have proliferated under international law in the last three decades. Consequently, there is now a wide range of international institutions engaged in defining, monitoring and enforcing women’s rights in different conflicts under international law. Key institutions of relevance include the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), human rights treaty-bodies, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The increase in institutional activity is a broadly positive development. Nevertheless, there is significant scope to strengthen the legal status of specific protections to women’s rights; to improve how key institutions comply with and implement their own guarantees of women’s rights; to improve coordination amongst key institutions; and to maximise the strengths of different monitoring and enforcement procedures to protect and promote different women’s rights in different conflict settings. This policy brief elaborates these key findings and concludes with recommendations to a range of key actors.

The policy brief is drawn from Women’s Rights in Armed Conflict under International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2020). The larger study examines the protection of women’s rights in conflict under international humanitarian law (IHL), international human rights law (IHRL), international criminal law (ICL) and the UN Security Council. In practice, the study examined the activities of the ICRC, human rights treaty-bodies, the ICC and the UNSC in three conflict settings on a subset of emblematic women’s rights violations, namely, the recruitment and use of girl soldiers and the perpetration of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo; forced displacement and sexual violence in the Colombia; and enforced disappearance and sexual violence in Nepal.