Document Type


Publication Date

January 2012



First Page



INTRODUCTION: Over the last couple of decades, and particularly since 1998, incredible advances have been made in the effort to end impunity for sexual and gender-based violence committed in the context of war, mass violence, or repression. Before this, crimes committed exclusively or disproportionately against women and girls during conflict or periods of mass violence were either largely ignored, or at most, treated as secondary to other crimes. However, evidence of the large-scale and systematic use of rape in conflicts over the last two decades helped create unprecedented levels of awareness of sexual violence as a method of war and political repression. As a result, great strides have been made in the investigation and prosecution of rape and other forms of sexual violence at the international level. Indeed, rape and other forms of sexual violence have been successfully prosecuted as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and even genocide by the ad hoc international criminal tribunals established to prosecute such crimes in the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR). Furthermore, the 1998 Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) incorporates many of these advances, enumerating a broad range of sexual and gender-based crimes as war crimes and crimes against humanity.