Milestones of international law
1949: Geneva Convention: The Fourth Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War states: “Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault” (Art 27, Geneva Convention IV, 1949).
1993: The Statue of The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) explicitly refers to rape as a crime against humanity:
The crimes against humanity provision in the ICTY Statute (article 5) reads: “The [ICTY] shall have the power to prosecute persons responsible for the following crimes when committed in armed conflict, whether inter- national or internal in character, and directed against any civilian population: (a) murder; [. . .] (c) enslavement; [. . .] (f) torture; (g) rape; (h) persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds; (i) other inhumane acts.”
ICTR Statute article 3 is essentially the same, except that it does not include the requirement that the crime must be committed in armed conflict, and that it lists grounds upon which the widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population must be perpetrated, namely, “national, political, ethnic, racial or reli- gious grounds”.
SCSL Statute article 2 differs in that its general section (chapeau) does not specifically require such crime to have been committed “during armed conflict” (unlike its ICTY counterpart), or “on national, political, ethnic, racial or religious grounds” (unlike its ICTR counterpart). Its sub-paragraphs (g) – dealing with various forms of sexual crimes – and (h) are also more detailed. They read: “(g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced preg- nancy and any other form of sexual violence; (h) Persecution on political, racial, ethnic or religious grounds”.
Source: Review of the sexual violence elements of the judgments of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwandan, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the light of Security Council Resolution 1820
1995: The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women, also addressed the situation of women and girls in armed conflict.
It further identified “violence against women” and “women and armed conflict” as critical areas of concern, and highlighted that “acts of violence against women include violation of the human rights of women in situations of armed conflict, in particular … systematic rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy”
1997: First ever trial for sexual violence against man: The Trial Chamber found how after taking over the area of Prijedor, in northwestern of BiH, Serb forces confined thousands of Muslims and Croats in camps. In a horrific incident in the Omarska Camp, one of the detainees was forced by uniformed men, including Duško Tadić, to bite off the testicles of another detainee. In May 1997, the Trial Chamber found Tadić guilty of cruel treatment (violation of the laws and customs of war) and inhumane acts (crime against humanity) for the part he played in this and other incidents.
Source: ICTY Landmark Cases
1998: Rome Statute Article 7 recognises rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity as crime against humanity.
1998: the Trial Chamber found Akayesu the former bourgmestre of Taba commune, guilty of genocide. In the same judgement, the ICTR also for the first time defined the crime of rape in international criminal law and recognised rape as a means of perpetrating genocide.
Source: ICTR Milestones
2000: The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security which reaffirmed the Beijing Declaration’s principles and the “need to implement fully, international humanitarian and human rights law that protects the rights of women and girls during and after conflicts”
2002: Dragoljub Kunarac, Zoran Vuković and Radomir Kovač received 28, 20, and 12 years’ imprisonment for playing a prominent role in organising and maintaining the system of infamous rape camps in the eastern Bosnian town of Foča.:
Source: ICTY Landmark Cases
2006: the General Assembly adopted Resolution 61/143, which, referring to the Resolution 1325, implicitly urged States to ensure the human rights’ protection of “women and girls in situations of armed conflict, post armed conflict settings and refugee and internally displaced settings, where women are at a greater risk of being targeted for violence, and where their ability to seek and receive redress is often restricted”, and to eliminate impunity for gender-based violence in situations of armed conflict”
2008: The UN Security Council adopted the second resolution, Resolution 1820 (SCR 1820), on sexual violence as a weapon of war.
ICRC (1949) Geneva convention
ICRC (1998) Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
ICTR (1994) Statute of the International Tribunal for Rwanda
ICTR (1998): The Prosecutor Versus Jean-Paul Akayesu, Case No. ICTR-96-4-Z,
ICTY (1997) Prosecutor v Duško Tadić Case No.IT-94-1-T
ICTY Press Release (2017) ICTY convicts Ratko Mladić for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Court. Addendum, Part II: Finalized Draft Text of the Elements of Crimes.
PCNICC (2002) Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
UN Security Council (2000) Resolution 1325
UN Security Council (2008) adopted the second resolution, Resolution 1820 (SCR 1820), on sexual violence as a weapon of war.