Women and Armed Conflict: The International Response to the Beijing Platform for Action

Authored by: Judith Gardam and Michelle Jarvis

Categories: Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: International Agreements, International Law, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Region: No Region
Year: 2000
Citation: Gardam, Judith and Michelle Jarvis. "Women and Armed Conflict: The International Response to the Beijing Platform for Action." Columbia Human Rights Law Review 32, no. 1 (2000): 1-66.

Access the Resource:


Any assessment of the effect of armed conflict on women requires consideration of a wide variety of factors, the relevance and impact of which differ considerably between cultures and individual women in those cultures. Many factors such as race, ethnicity, nationality, class, age, disability, and sexuality, in addition to gender, will affect a woman’s experience of armed conflict. While it is easy to over-simplify and misinterpret the issues, it is nevertheless possible to identify some common themes. Therefore, Part II of this Article is an examination of the various ways in which armed conflict impacts women.

In Part III, against a background of the effects of armed conflict on women, we consider initiatives that have been adopted at the international level to implement the aspirations of paragraph 44 of the Beijing Platform for Action in relation to women and armed conflict. The Beijing Platform for Action calls on a wide range of actors in the international community to achieve its goals. It is at the international level that any concerted move to achieve the objectives of the Platform must originate. Our discussion, therefore, concentrates on the contribution to this call for action on the part of the United Nations and its agencies, including the Commission on the Status of Women that bears the responsibility for coordinating the follow up to the Beijing Conference. It is not only action specifically in response to the Beijing Platform for Action that is relevant in this context, but also other work on women and armed conflict that has been influenced by the Conference and post-Conference developments, such as that of the Special Rapporteurs whose mandates cover violence against women in conflict situations. The Beijing Conference also reinforced the need to integrate a gender perspective into international criminal law. However, there is a growing jurisprudence in this area and this paper is confined to developments that, to date, have received less attention from commentators.