Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict

AMICC participated in the Global Summit "End Sexual Violence in Conflict" in London, June 10-13. The Summit buzzed with writing and speaking about the International Criminal Court (ICC), including events featuring Court officials such as prosecutor Bensouda.
We attended because the strong emotional and moral response from the political left and right alike to sexual violence as a tactic in war is very valuable to our advocacy. We can use this emotional response to draw the indifferent and the doubtful to the Court. Sexual violence in conflict is a signature crime in the ICC’s jurisprudence which has new and advanced standards and definitions for it. For example, and as frequently mentioned at the Summit, the Court’s Rome Statute, in a breakthrough for international law, specifically recognizes rape as a separate crime, rather than as part of some other general crime (e.g., assault)  - the traditional definition.

The British government organized the Summit through its Foreign Secretary William Hague who co-hosted with Angelina Jolie. Its purpose was to attract government ministers and other high-ranking officials and to get their commitment to act on sexual violence in conflict. It aimed to produce, from governmental and NGO meetings (AMICC was in several of these), numerous practical recommendations for actions.  It succeeded on all counts. At least for now, the world is paying more attention to the crime. Many countries have committed in the Summit’s closing documents to acting against sexual violence. But conference commitments tend to fade away unless there is persistent and effective follow-up. The Summit organizers seemed to hope that NGOs would take up this task.

The US had a substantial presence at the Summit. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered the closing keynote speech with fervor suggesting a strong personal commitment against the crime. Led by Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice Stephen Rapp, the American official group had representatives from USAID and several bureaus in the State Department. Six American academics spoke at various panels and working sessions. This presence and Kerry’s speech made clear a US government open intention to join ICC action against the crime. This intention can give us further access to the government for discussion and collaboration about the ICC.
Written by John Washburn, AMICC Convener

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