Transforming Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: Principles and Practice

Authored by: Ní Aoláin, Fionnuala, Catherine O'Rourke, and Aisling Swaine

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: International Agreements, International Law, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Transitional Justice
Region: No Region
Year: 2015
Citation: Ní Aoláin, Fionnuala, Catherine O'Rourke, and Aisling Swaine. "Transforming Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: Principles and Practice." Harvard Human Rights Journal 28 (2015): 97-146.

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Executive Summary

The United Nations Secretary-General’s adoption of a Guidance Note on
Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (2014) marks an important
supplement to recent normative developments in the area of gender-sensitive
reparations. Despite these progressive normative advances, there
remain conceptual gaps in the legal and policy framework for reparations
addressing conflict-related sexual violence and, consequently, ongoing
challenges in the implementation of gender-sensitive reparations, which
this Article identifies. Challenges include the exclusion of women from
legal remedies due to definitional, operational, and enforcement bias in
the creation and implementation of reparation regimes. Moreover, a limited
understanding of who can be the victim of sexual harm means that
violence against men is often unseen and unaccounted for when states and
other international actors conceive and implement reparations. This Article
comprehensively reviews international and domestic practices, addressing
legal rules, policy debates, and reparations programming for conflict-related
sexual violence. In doing so, the analysis mediates the gap between
norm and implementation by surveying common approaches and promising
innovations in reparations delivery. The Article concludes that a commitment
to transformative reparations is critical to gender-sensitive reparations.
Transformative reparations address the immediate reparative needs
of survivors of sexual harm, while also being fully cognizant of the social
and economic barriers to full equality for women in many societies. Thus, transformative reparations go beyond the immediacy of sexual violence,
encompassing the equality, justice, and longitudinal needs of those who
have experienced sexual harms. To this end, we propose ten practice-based
principles to inform future reparations practice in judicial, peacemaking,
and programming contexts for conflict-related sexual violence.