Putting Women's Rights into the Arms Trade Treaty | Violence Against Women

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This report complements the call for the inclusion of gender-based violence within the Arms Trade Treaty by Amnesty International, IANSA Women’s Network, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and Religions for Peace International. It details the issue of gender-based violence and language needed in the treaty. It also sets out how the threshold to determine the risk of an arms transfer leading to the perpetration or facilitation of gender-based violence can be identified by licensing agencies and which mechanisms can promote women’s rights as part of national-level implementation of the treaty
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  PuttingWomen’sRightsintotheArmsTradeTreaty  Acknowledgments This report was written by Chitra Nagarajan of GAPS and Caroline Green of Oxfam.GAPS and Oxfam would like to thank all those who have helped with the productionof this report.Cover photo: Ntombizodwa Marufu, farmer, Zimbabwe © Annie Bungeroth/Oxfam© June 2012 GAPS Gender Action for Peace and Security is an expert working group of development,human rights, humanitarian and peacebuilding NGOs and practitioners. GAPS  promotes, facilitates and monitors the meaningful inclusion of gender perspectivesin all aspects of policy and practice on peace and security. Through research,campaigning and advocacy, GAPS works to bridge the gap between the realities of women (activists and non activists) in conflict affected countries and UK decisionmakers and practitioners. Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS)56-64 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4LT, UKTel: +44 (0)20 7065 0772 󰁬 Fax: +44 (0)20 7549 0361 www.gaps-uk.org  󰁬 www.nowomennopeace.org  While international trade in consumer goods is highly regulated, the global tradein arms takes place in the absence of legally binding, robust and universallyapplicable criteria. The United Nations (UN) Diplomatic Conference on the ArmsTrade Treaty in July 2012 provides a historic opportunity to create a globalmechanism to control the arms trade.In today’s armed conflicts, the battlefield has moved into villages, towns and theirsurroundings. The majority of those killed and injured are civilians who are, in manycases, deliberately targeted. Mass displacement, use of child soldiers, violenceagainst ethnic and religious groups, gender-based and sexual violence, other warcrimes, and crimes against humanity, are common features of conflict. 1 Afterconflict, much violence, including gender-based violence continues.To have real impact, a prospective Arms Trade Treaty must include legally bindingcriteria that prevent arms transfers to abusers of human rights or into situationswhere there is a substantial risk that they will undermine development or exacerbatearmed violence. 2 The Arms Trade Treaty also needs to refer to gender-based armedviolence in both the treaty text and criteria. This report complements the call for the inclusion of gender-based violence withinthe Arms Trade Treaty by Amnesty International, IANSA Women’s Network,Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and Religions for PeaceInternational. 3 It details the issue of gender-based violence and language neededin the treaty. It also sets out how the threshold to determine the risk of an armstransfer leading to the perpetration or facilitation of gender-based violence can beidentified by licensing agencies and which mechanisms can promote women’srights as part of national-level implementation of the treaty. Recommendation: A criterion in the Arms Trade Treaty should require States not to allow aninternational transfer of conventional arms where there is a substantial risk thatthe arms under consideration will be used to perpetrate or facilitate acts ofgender-based violence, including rape and other forms of sexual violence. 1  An unregulated arms tradeand gender-based violence According to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination of Women, “Wars,armed conflicts and the occupation of territories often lead to increased prostitution,trafficking in women and sexual assault of women, which require specific protectiveand punitive measures”. 4 Instability and armed conflict lead to increases in armed violence, includinggender-based violence. Indiscriminate forms of violence are often used as a weaponof war and deployed strategically to shame, demoralise, terrify and humiliate theenemy, with women and girls often viewed as the bearers of cultural identity. 5 Gender-based violence is widespread, often systematic, and has been reported in allregions of the world from a variety of sources. 6 For example, gender-based violencehas been committed by armed groups including state security forces recently in Côted’Ivoire and Guinea 7 as well as by armed groups in Mali. 8 Margot Wallström, former UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General(SRSG) on Sexual Violence in Conflict, has stated that in many conflicts, “rape is afront line.”  9 Rape is often highly stigmatised, with survivors often shunned fromcommunities and at times abandoned by their spouses. “With the sexual violence, a large number began to flee because they found themselves unable to resist when confronted with a weapon, and when they were tied up or killed in order to intimidate the women into yielding easily”  . 10 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)The brutality of sexual violence in areas such as Eastern DRC has been welldocumented, with reports of young girls and elderly women being tortured andviolently raped as a tactic of armed groups to assert power and domination. Theresults are devastating as survivors face multiple psychological and medical problemsincluding HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, infertility andgenital mutilation. Conflict-affected communities experience sexual violence as a threat to theirsecurity and well-being, and increasingly report sexual violence against men andboys. This includes armed groups forcing men and boys to commit such actsagainst family members. 11 2
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