From the Beginning...
In 2012, Nobel Peace Laureates, international advocacy organizations, and groups working at the regional and community levels announced the launch of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict.
A powerful and coordinated effort for change, the Campaign was formed in response to the prevalence of systematic rape in conflict. Campaign members were concerned with the continuing lack of support for survivors of gender violence and the culture of impunity that allows perpetrators of rape to go unpunished.
The Campaign launched as recent news highlighted important steps to stem the global epidemic of rape in conflict. In April 2012 former Liberian President Charles Taylor was found guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity, including rape and sexual slavery in Sierra Leone’s civil war. The landmark ruling made Taylor the first head of state to be convicted by an international court including for crimes of sexual violence.
Under the direction of the Nobel Women's Initiative, the Campaign focused on four target countries where immediate attention was needed: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Burma, and Colombia.
To the London Summit...
In June 2014, the Campaign traveled to London for the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. Our delegation, led by five Nobel Peace Laureates and 90 activists, included sexual violence survivors and grassroots women's leaders from conflict countries.
The UK hosted the largest summit on ending sexual violence in conflict in history. Co-chaired by the former UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie, the Summit brought together world leaders, media, experts, and civil society to sign onto a concrete plan for ending the use of rape as a weapon of war.
One of our Campaign leaders, Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, noted that while the Summit created an important opportunity for critical media coverage, the segregation of NGOs from ministerial discussions was viewed by many as a deliberate decision that diminished the reality of the critical role that civil society always plays in pressuring governments to do what they should do anyway.
In fact, only a handful of governments made concrete commitments toward addressing the specific roots of sexual violence: inequality and violence against women and girls, and the staggering inability to comply with the almost 20-year-old UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security.
For 5 years, the Campaign brought together over 5,000 individuals and organizations around the world working to end sexual violence in conflict. We've sent delegations to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, and Colombia, built an extensive network of Survivors United for Action, and demanded fearless political leadership on behalf of victims everywhere.
Never before have there been so many NGOs, so many human rights defenders, experts, and survivors willing to fight for a future free of sexual violence. Never again, therefore, is there likely to be such a singular moment for the leveraging of broad-based progress. The Campaign is the answer to rights denied, rights delayed, and rights destroyed. Enduring and sustainable, our mission is to unite the work of civil society and human rights defenders around the world, and with one voice call for rights upheld, rights respected, protected, exercised, and fulfilled.
Looking ahead, we're going to be deploying our new methodology for responding to the gravest atrocities, organizing our vast network to coordinate the action of civil society, and use fresh energy and fight to call upon governments to make concrete commitments to prevent, protect, and prosecute.