Women, Peace, Security, and the Responsibility to Protect

20 October 2015

Women are not just victims or perpetrators of atrocities. They also have a critical role to play in the implementation of all aspects of RtoP.

Atrocity crimes disproportionately affect women and girls at an alarming rate. Indeed, women and girls often make up the majority of victims of such violence and bear the brunt of the economic and social consequences of atrocities. Discrimination against women and girls, as well as the violation of their human rights, signals a gradual break down of good governance and the rule of law, with the United Nations Secretary General explicitly stating that such discrimination can be a source of risk. Such violations are also indicators for atrocity crimes, and can themselves amount to genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity or ethnic cleansing.

Additionally, women and girls can themselves be the perpetrators of atrocity crimes, either directly or indirectly. Such action may be voluntary or result from abduction or enforcement.

However, women are not just victims or perpetrators of atrocities. They also have a critical role to play in the implementation of all aspects of RtoP and an inherent right to participate in the norm’s advancement. Women activists, rights organizations, and policy makers serve as key stakeholders in building state resilience to atrocities.

Using the three-pillar framework of RtoP, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) provides suggestions for action to assist in ensuring that a holistic approach is taken to protect populations from atrocity crimes. Additionally, ICRtoP provides suggestions for how civil society groups can promote the mutually reinforcing goals of Women, Peace, and Security and RtoP. 

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