Calendar of Events
United Nations Development Programme
Accountability for Sexual Violence in Conflict
Mosharaka - Mosharaka Regional Project
Beirut - Lebanon
16 - 17 Apr 2018
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Overview
Beirut - Lebanon
In 2017, the world witnessed important changes in countries within the Arab States region regarding legislation governing violence against women, which contribute to accountability for women affected by violence across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. In Tunisia, Lebanon and Jordan so called, “marry your rapist” laws were abolished in response to civil society pressure. These changes have the potential to promote greater accountability for sexual violence, an increasing challenge for countries in conflict and countries affected by regional instability.

In the Arab region, sexual violence continues to be used by numerous actors across the region as a systematic tactic of warfare, terrorism and torture, against women, girls, men and boys, and poses a threat to peace and security in the region. In Syria, women and girls have been vulnerable to abuse from many actors in the conflict. In Libya there is increasing evidence of sexual crimes being used in the conflict in that country, and discussion remains ongoing surrounding transitional justice. In Iraq, ISIS has used rape, sexual slavery, and forced marriage on a massive scale particularly against religious and ethnic minorities. Furthermore, in refugee and displacement settings in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, women and girls continue to be at risk of sexual exploitation, enforced prostitution, forced marriage, human trafficking, and other grave forms of sexual violence.

Efforts are ongoing across the region to promote accountability for sexual violence. Each of the Commissions of Inquiry and Fact Findings Missions deployed to conflicts in the Arab world have all included investigators on sexual violence in conflict. Further, courts in Germany have initiated structural criminal investigations regarding crimes committed in Syria and Iraq and Sweden has tried alleged Syrian war criminals (though unrelated to sexual violence) utilizing various forms of jurisdiction. A transitional justice law remains in discussion in Libya. In Iraq, the Government agreed on a joint communique with the United Nations which recognized that the Government of Iraq would provide accountability for crimes of conflict-related sexual violence in accordance with national laws. Additionally, the United Nations and Iraq agreed in UNSCR 2379 to establish a special investigation team to assist the Government of Iraq in collecting evidence of serious international crimes.

A key element for prosecuting these crimes is ensuring that legal frameworks include adequate substantive and procedural provisions relating to sexual violence. A comparative study of laws which govern violence against women currently being carried out in the Arab region jointly by UNDP, UN Women and UNFPA in close collaboration with national counterparts, has pointed to the different areas where penal codes and personal status laws in the Arab states fail to protect women against violence and are not in line with international human rights standards and conventions. This is particularly problematic for countries that may consider bringing crimes of sexual violence committed in conflict into national courts.

In order to promote necessary reforms, it is important to identify lessons learned from international and national courts that have tried serious international crimes, and understand the possible implications for national legal systems in Arab states. By including experts on international law on sexual violence crimes, this proposed workshop, will seek to identify what work is needed to help Arab legislatures propose the necessary legal changes. By including key legal experts from Arab states in the discussion; the objective will be to share lessons learned from previous mechanisms to inform and shape the actions in the region towards more just and gender-sensitive justice accountability mechanisms that promote regional peace and security.

By bringing legal experts from Arab states together with experts in relevant areas of international law, the workshop seeks to help identify the key challenges involved in trying crimes of sexual violence in conflict within national jurisdictions and prepare the ground for future work needed to amend national legislation where necessary. This workshop will be a preparatory expert meeting to help identify gaps in knowledge and practice, specific challenges to prosecuting sexual violence crimes in the region, and identify areas of work for a larger discussion with other legal experts and civil society from the region later in the year.
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Contact
UN Women Regional Office for Arab States in Cairo:

Mohamed Hassan
mohamed.Hassan@unwomen.org
+201030970899
Venue

Resource Guide

Other Information
  

Details

From

To

16 April 2018

8:30

9:00

Registration

9:00

9:30

 Session 1: Setting the scene

-        Objective of the meeting and expected outcomes 

-                Introduction of participants

9:30

11:00

 Session 2: Sexual violence in conflict 

-        Overview of status of sexual crimes in international law

-        Overview and lessons learned from Special Courts (ICTY, ICC, Rwanda)

-        National Courts 

Q and A

11:00

11:30

Coffee Break

11:30

13:30

Session 3: Justice, Truth and Reparation 

-        Investigation and Documentation (including witness protection)

-        Role of civil society in supporting witnesses

-        Reparations 

-        Dialogue

-        Service delivery

Q and A  

13:30

14:30

Lunch

14:30

16:30

Session 4: Status of laws in the Arab world

-        Presentation on 4 key countries legal frameworks - penal code and personal status law

-        Plenary discussion on what are the gaps between international best practice and what is currently possible under local/national legal systems

Q and A

16:30

17:00

Summary of day’s discussions and forward look to implications for the region.

From

To

17 April 2018

9:00

10.30

Session 5 (1): Implications for national legislation 

-     The case of Iraq: what has been done, what can be done, challenges encountered

Q and A

10:30

11:00

Coffee Break

11:00

12:30

Session 5 (2): Implications for national legislation (continued)

- Implications for national legislation – lessons from Syria, Yemen Libya

Q and A

12:30

13:30

Lunch

13:30

14:30

Session 6: Role of Special Courts in the Region 

14:30

16:00

Way forward and Conclusions 


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