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Conflict Gender

The Hague Jolie Declaration: Ending Impunity for Sexual Crimes in Conflict?

Survivors of sexual assault
Survivors of sexual assault who have babies resulting from the violence stay in a shelter in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo: Kate Holt/IRIN.

Rape and other acts of serious sexual violence in armed conflict are to be recognised as grave breaches of the Geneva Convention as well as war crimes, according to an announcement by British Foreign Secretary, William Hague and UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie, at a G8 meeting on April 11th 2013.

The new Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict agreed by ministers, elevates the most under reported and least prosecuted aspect of war to a new status, on a par with wilful killing and torture, and provides a framework for investigating and prosecuting offenders. The move is welcome news to campaigners working to end sexual violence, and it sounds good on paper, but how easy will it be to enforce?