Event banner. Photo:  Institute of Global Politics at Columbia SIPA
Event banner. Photo: Institute of Global Politics at Columbia SIPA

On February 9, 2024, the Columbia Institute of Global Politics (IGP) and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) co-hosted an event titled "Addressing and Preventing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence".

The event brought together leading scholars, legal experts, government officials, activists, and other stakeholders, to discuss the persistent issue of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) and the necessary steps to combat it effectively, as CRSV continues to be utilized as a weapon of war and a tactic of terrorism despite international condemnation.

Senior Researcher at PRIO, Ragnhild Nordås, contributed to the event’s first panel discussion regarding the persistent issues of CRSV, primarily addressing how international legal frameworks can prevent and prosecute CRSV as a weapon of war.  Nordås highlighted that some organizations have prevented soldiers from committing acts of sexual violence and stressed that a strong command responsibility is particularly effective in this regard. She also underscored the importance of counteracting the shame and taboo surrounding sexual violence, noting that a change in this narrative might contribute to making sexual violence a less appealing weapon of war in the future. Nordås stated that:

Sexual Violence is not inevitable in war. […] There are organizations in war that deliberately decide to not use sexual violence. It is possible to control this if commanders are willing to control this type of behaviour.”

The following panels discussed the progress made on preventing and addressing conflict-related sexual violence through policy measures, and how civil society is integral in ensuring justice and accountability for conflict-related sexual violence around the world.

In addition to Nordås several other esteemed experts and speakers took part in the event, including Hilary Rodham Clinton, Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University; 67th Secretary of State and former Senator from New York and IGP Faculty Advisory Board Chair, Melanne Verveer, Executive Director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security; Former Ambassador-at-Large, Office of Global Women’s Issues, US Department of State, and Linda Thomas, Representative of the United States to the United Nations.

The full lineup of speakers and discussions can be found here, and the entire event recording is available for viewing here.