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Document 52012IP0028

Women's situation in war European Parliament resolution of 2 February 2012 on women’s situation in war 2011/2198(INI))

OJ C 239E , 20.8.2013, p. 74–83 (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV)



Official Journal of the European Union

CE 239/74

Thursday 2 February 2012
Women's situation in war


European Parliament resolution of 2 February 2012 on women’s situation in war 2011/2198(INI))

2013/C 239 E/12

The European Parliament,

having regard to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948 and to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, as adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights of 25 June 1993, in particular paragraphs I 28-29 and II 38 on systematic rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy in situations of armed conflict,

having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) of 18 December 1979 and to the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women of 20 December 1993 (1),

having regard to UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008) on women, peace and security, to UN Security Council Resolution 1888 (2009) on sexual violence against women and children in situations of armed conflict, to UN Security Council Resolution 1889 (2009) aiming to strengthen the implementation and monitoring of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and to UN Security Council Resolution 1960 (2010), which created a mechanism for compiling data on, and listing perpetrators of, sexual violence in armed conflict,

having regard to the appointment in March 2010 of a Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict,

having regard to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women on 15 September 1995 and to the subsequent outcome documents adopted at the United Nations Beijing+5 (2000), Beijing +10 (2005) and Beijing +15 (2010) special sessions,

having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 54/134 of 7 February 2000, which established 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women,

having regard to the European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020), adopted by the European Council in March 2011 (2),

having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015’ (COM(2010)0491),

having regard to the EU Council Plan of Action on Gender Equality in Development Cooperation (SEC(2010)0265), which should ensure that gender equality is mainstreamed throughout the EU’s work with partner countries at all levels,

having regard to the 2011 Report on the EU indicators for the comprehensive approach to the EU implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 on Women, Peace and Security (3),

having regard to the 2010 indicators for the comprehensive approach to the EU implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 on women, peace and security,

having regard to the comprehensive approach to the EU implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 on women, peace and security (4) and the operational document on ‘the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 as reinforced by UNSCR 1820 in the context of ESDP’, both adopted in December 2008,

having regard to the EU guidelines on violence and discrimination against women and girls,

having regard to the Council Conclusions of 13 November 2006 on promoting gender equality and gender mainstreaming in crisis management,

having regard to the 2005 Council Generic Standards of Behaviour for ESDP Operations (5),

having regard to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on 17 July 1998, particularly Articles 7 and 8 thereof, which define rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy and forced sterilisation or any form of sexual violence as crimes against humanity and war crimes,

having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2010 on the 10th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security (6),

having regard to its resolution of 7 May 2009 on gender mainstreaming in EU external relations and peace-building/nation-building (7),

having regard to its resolution of 1 June 2006 on the situation of women in armed conflicts and their role in the reconstruction and democratic process in post-conflict countries (8),

having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A7-0429/2011),


whereas limited progress has been made in the last 10 years since the adoption of UNSCR 1325; whereas in some cases the quotas have been set for the participation of women in governments and the number of women in representative institutions has increased; whereas since then an increased awareness of gender differences in conflicts has been established; whereas, despite the efforts made, women’s participation in peace negotiations remains, with few exceptions, below 10 % of those formally involved (9);


whereas the post of UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, now headed by Margot Wallström, has been created;


whereas sexual violence in the form of mass rapes, human trafficking and other forms of sexual abuse of women and children is still unacceptably used as a war tactic in conflict regions around the world; whereas the power vacuum that emerges in post-conflict areas can lead to deterioration of the rights of women and girls, as witnessed in Libya and Egypt;


whereas the effects of wartime sexual violence, both physical (risks such as sterility, incontinence and sexually transmitted diseases) and psychological, are devastating for the victims, as the latter are often stigmatised, rejected, mistreated and considered to be dishonoured, and in many cases are excluded from their communities and sometimes even murdered;


whereas the families of the victims are also hit particularly hard, considering the sexual violence to be a humiliation; whereas children resulting from rape can be rejected; and whereas this rejection can be brutal, with babies being abandoned at birth or even killed;


whereas the Vienna Declaration, adopted by the UN World Conference on Human Rights on 25 June 1993, states that ‘The human rights of women and of the girl-child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights’;


alarmed at the fact that, in most cases, the perpetrators of the sexual violence go unpunished, as demonstrated by the example of Colombia, where, in a situation of armed conflict, sexual violence against women is a systematic and concealed practice which is subject to almost total impunity, and whereas this form of violence should be viewed as a war crime;


recognising the fact that women in the army and/or working with civil organisations involved in peace-keeping play an important part as role-models, as intercultural mediators and as empowering incentives for local women and stereotype dispellers for local men, and that they also communicate better with local women;


whereas, in most countries, gender-related actions are not regarded as a high priority, gender being seen as a subsidiary issue and cultural, religious and socio-economic practices being used as excuses for obstructing progress in the area of gender equality and women’s rights;


whereas emphasis needs to be placed on gender from the very outset of planning civilian and security missions; whereas peace-keeping missions have proved to be crucial in introducing a gender perspective in prevention, demobilisation and post-conflict reconstruction;


whereas history has shown that the making of war appears to be a highly male-dominated activity and that there is therefore reason to expect that the particular skills of women in terms of dialogue and non-violence might contribute in a very positive way to peaceful conflict prevention and management;


whereas the importance of women’s involvement and of a gender perspective is underlined by the fact that where more women are engaged in conflict resolution and peace-building processes, peace negotiations, more areas for reconstruction and peace consolidation are addressed: market infrastructure, rural roads, health clinics, accessible schools and kindergartens, etc.;


whereas 17 indicators for the comprehensive approach (10) were adopted in 2010 and successful efforts have been made to present the first monitoring report based on these indicators in 2011 (11); whereas there is a need for comprehensive EU monitoring reports based on a clear methodology and adequate indicators;


whereas National Action Plans regarding women, peace and security are essential, and should be based on uniform minimum European standards as regards their objectives, implementation and monitoring across the EU;


whereas the Commission decided on 31 August 2011 to provide a further EUR 300 million for peace and security in Africa; whereas in 2011 at least 12 African countries, with a total estimated population of 386.6 million people, will count as current conflict regions;


whereas, in post-conflict situations undergoing processes of reconstruction and reintegration, institutional mechanisms and commitments to gender equality are effective first steps towards protecting and promoting women’s rights; whereas the involvement of all relevant actors, such as governments and political representatives, civil society and academics, as well as the direct participation of women’s organisations, groups and networks – which should receive political, financial and legal support for developing programmes, including for the most vulnerable members of the population, such as migrant, internally displaced, refugee and returnee women – is the essential precondition for peace-building, for achieving sustainable development and for bringing about a democratic society respectful of women’s rights as well as gender equality;


whereas the underlying causes of women’s vulnerability in conflict situations often lie in their limited access to, inter alia, education and the labour market, and whereas women’s economic participation on an equal basis is therefore a necessary precondition for combating gender-specific violence in armed conflicts; whereas women’s participation in governance, both at the negotiating table and in active roles in peaceful transitions, continues to be limited, yet remains a top priority and a critical element for achieving gender equality;

Women in peace and security leadership


Calls for EU support for peace processes to be made conditional on women’s participation in the international teams leading peace negotiations; asks that progress be made with a view to permanent inclusion of women leaders, local women’s rights organisations and/or civil society groups at the negotiation table throughout the peace process;


Underlines the importance of political dialogue for the empowerment of women and calls for EU delegations to include women, peace and security issues in their political and human rights dialogue with the host government; calls on the Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States actively to promote and support the empowerment of women to participate in their relations with countries and organisations outside the EU;


Welcomes the EU plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development, and calls on the EU High Representative to take all necessary measures in order to provide adequate and effective training to EU delegation staff members regarding a gender-sensitive approach to peace-keeping, conflict prevention and peace-building; asks the Commission and the Member States to ensure that adequate technical and financial assistance is provided in support of programmes enabling women to participate to the full in the conduct of peace negotiations and empowering women in civil society as a whole;


Calls for the EU and the Member States actively to promote an increase in the number of women in the military and in civilian peace-keeping operations, especially in leadership positions, and to that end calls for:

national campaigns promoting the military and the police force as a viable option for women as well as men, in order to dispel possible stereotypes; these campaigns should include information events and open days providing factual information on training and employment options in the armed forces;

a review of promotion policy in the military, in order to examine whether women have been disadvantaged when it comes to being promoted, despite, without regard to their gender, being equal to their male colleagues;

the inclusion of women-friendly policies within the military, such as the possibility of maternity leave;

the promotion of role models – women who have been courageous and who have taken action to bring about change;

the inclusion of more women, especially in civilian operations, in high-ranking positions and in interactions with the local community;

in-depth training of men and women involved in civilian interaction on gender-related aspects, on the protection, special needs and human rights of women and children in conflict situations, and on the culture and traditions of the host countries, in order to improve protection for those taking part and to ensure that there are no differences in the provision of training for women and men;


Calls for adequate EU funding, including under the Instrument for Stability, for supporting women’s effective participation in, and contribution to, representative institutions at national and local level and at all levels of decision-making in the context of conflict resolution, peace negotiations, peace-building and post-conflict planning;


Points to the need to establish a code of conduct for EU personnel serving in military and civil missions which makes it clear that sexual exploitation constitutes unjustifiable and criminal behaviour, and requires that it be strictly enforced in cases of sexual violence perpetrated by humanitarian staff, representatives of international institutions, peace-keeping forces and diplomats through severe administrative and criminal penalties; calls for zero tolerance for the sexual exploitation of children and women in armed conflicts and refugee camps and, to that end, welcomes the recent UN investigations into the allegations of sexual exploitation involving its peacekeepers in the Côte d’Ivoire UN Operation;

The impact of armed conflict on women


Strongly condemns the continued use of sexual violence against women as a weapon of war equal to a war crime; recognises the deep physical and psychological wounds that such abuses leave on the victims, along with the dramatic consequences for their families, stresses that this phenomenon needs to be addressed through victim support programmes and urges the mobilisation of political leadership with a view to putting forward a coordinated set of measures for the prevention and alleviation of the use of sexual violence; points, in this respect, to the ongoing appalling situation in Congo; recalls that a mass gang rape took place from 30 July to 4 August 2010 in the eastern Congo mining district, that at least 8 300 rapes were reported in eastern Congo in 2009 and that at least 1 244 women reported being raped in the first quarter of 2010, which is an average of 14 rapes per day; points out that this situation remains unchanged in 2011; urges both EU missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – EUPOL RD Congo and EUSEC RD Congo – to make the fight against sexual violence and the participation of women the main priorities in the effort to reform the Congolese security sector;


Underlines that, since sexual violence, which mostly victimises women and children, is exacerbated by, inter alia, the gender divide, the spread of violence – both in general and through the militarisation of society in particular – and the breakdown of societal structure, particular attention should be given to, and resources deployed for, the prevention of such war crimes;


Calls on the Member States to promote the introduction of measures designed to limit the adverse effects of armed conflict on family life;


Calls for stronger cooperation with local women’s organisations in order to establish an early-warning system and possibly to enable them to prevent the abuses or reduce their occurrence themselves;


Asks the Commission to support local civil society groups, particularly women’s groups and those with a gender-sensitive agenda, through accessible funding and capacity-building in order to enable them to fulfil their role as a watchdog, especially in the context of failing states;


Is appalled that perpetrators of sexual violence continue to escape unpunished; calls strongly for an end to impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence; urges national authorities to ensure that laws relating to impunity are upheld, and calls for the justice system to be strengthened by providing training for judges and prosecutors in the investigation and punishment of cases of sexual violence; calls, therefore, for prosecution cases to be highly visible and well-publicised, as a means of spreading the word that such practices are intolerable;


Asks that the issue of impunity be a principal factor in peace negotiations, as there should be no peace without justice, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice and face the penal consequences of their actions; emphasises that impunity must not be negotiable; deplores the fact that judicial proceedings against the perpetrators of violence against women in war are often too slow, creating further distress for the victims, and hence calls for reliable and equitable justice to be delivered within reasonable time limits and with respect for the dignity of women who are victims of war;


Stresses that education plays a key role, not only in empowering women and young girls but also in combating stereotypes and in developing people’s mindsets; calls for awareness-raising campaigns to be introduced and/or stepped up as part of education programmes, bringing respect for women’s dignity to the forefront;


Calls for armed forces to run women’s clinics to deal with sexual and psychological violence in war zones;


Demands that women who are victims of ill-treatment and violence during conflicts be able to lodge complaints with international courts under conditions compatible with their dignity and under the protection of those courts against physical assault and trauma as a result of their being questioned in situations which display insensitivity to trauma; demands that in such cases the women concerned obtain both civil and criminal redress, and that assistance programmes be implemented to help them achieve economic, social and psychological reinsertion;


Calls for the EU and the Member States effectively to support the implementation of the EU guidelines on violence against women and girls, through specific measures such as:

the establishment of an effective system to monitor all legal proceedings and their follow-up relating to cases of such violence;

the adoption of measures, strategies and programmes that focus not only on the protection and prosecution elements, but more importantly on prevention;

programmes providing free health and psychological counselling to victims of violence in their native language and in line with their culture and customs, where possible by women practitioners;

programmes providing health courses and easily accessible literature, notably on reproductive and sexual health, targeting women and men, and awareness-raising campaigns tailored to suit the cultures of the people for whom they are intended;

specific steps to be taken to ensure that women in conflict situations have fair access to public health systems (12), in particular primary healthcare, including the protection of mother and child as defined by the World Health Organisation (13), and gynaecological and obstetric healthcare;

developing witness protection programmes in order to protect victims and to encourage them, under the guarantee of protection, to come forward and testify against their aggressors;


Highlights the crucial importance of ensuring that women are equal actors in processes relating to justice reform or transnational justice so that they can efficiently advocate the enforcement of equal rights under national judicial systems;


Calls on the Commission, the EEAS and Parliament delegations to find ways to promote the signature, ratification and implementation of the 1998 Rome Statute (for the International Criminal Court) by those developing countries that have not already done so, as a necessary step towards protecting women’s sexual rights during times of war and averting the impunity of perpetrators;


Condemns hostage-taking and calls for stronger punishment of the use of human shields during conflicts;


Calls for women prisoners to be housed separately from men, in particular to avoid sexual abuse;


Underlines the importance of the right to know the fate of missing relatives, and calls on the parties to armed conflicts to take all feasible measures to account for persons reported missing;


Calls for specific provisions affording additional protection to women against rape, forced prostitution and any other form of indecent assault, as well as particular care for expectant mothers and mothers of young children with regard to the provision of food, clothing, evacuation and transportation and medical facilities, in order to avoid unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, as priority areas under the Development Financing Instrument for the 2014-2020 period;


Calls on the Commission to examine the possibility of establishing rapid-response units made up of trained personnel (such as doctors, psychologists, sociologists and legal advisors) with a view to providing immediate in situ support to the victims of gender crimes;


Welcomes the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1960 requesting detailed information on suspected perpetrators of sexual violence during armed conflict; calls on the Member States to step up their efforts in implementing Resolution 1960;


Calls for an analysis of the possibility of adequate compensation for victims, bearing in mind also the psychological repercussions for victims’ families and children, in accordance with the applicable international and national law;


Calls on the Commission and the Member States to empower women in respect of their rights and access to land, inheritance, credit and savings in post-conflict situations, especially in countries where women’s property rights are not legally enforceable or socially recognised;


Stresses the need to complement the image of women as vulnerable victims with an image of women as a highly differentiated group of social actors, who possess valuable resources and capacities and who have their own agendas; maintains that women influence the course of events, and must shape the development process; takes the view that women who have been victims of war should no longer be seen only as war victims, but rather as actors in stabilisation and conflict resolution; stresses that women in general can fulfil this role only once they are equally represented in political and economic decision-making;


Points out that people’s understanding of the role of women in post-war societies and of their contributions to post-war reconstruction must go beyond the universalistic narrative of ‘women’s experience of war’, and that the specificity and diversity of women’s experiences must be acknowledged;



Calls for the creation of a Special EU Representative on Women, Peace and Security within the EEAS, in order to mainstream the gender perspective and to liaise more efficiently with its counterparts in the UN; calls for all the relevant EU policies, task forces and units/focal points dealing with gender and security to be under the coordination of, and linked to, this Special EU Representative in order to ensure coherence and efficiency, as well as the systematic, consistent and comprehensive implementation of the strategies to be adopted and the action to be taken;


Calls for the informal ‘Women, Peace and Security Task Force’ to be supported and recognised;


Calls for special attention to be given to gender mainstreaming in the context of peace research, conflict prevention and resolution, peace-keeping operations and post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction, and for a gender mainstreaming component in the Country Strategy Papers;


Strongly encourages the EEAS, the Commission and the Member States to incorporate development issues – in particular the recognition of mothers’ right to receive protection and support and to care for and bring up their children, as well as women’s health and economic security, with special attention being paid to the issue of property rights, particularly in relation to land ownership and farming – into their actions affecting women in conflict zones;


Welcomes the EU’s decision to adopt a list of 17 implementation indicators in order to evaluate its own performance on gender issues in fragile, conflict and post-conflict countries; stresses that these indicators, which should also include qualitative measurements, need to be improved; calls on the Commission and the EEAS to take into consideration the conclusions of this evaluation process during the programming and implementation phases;


Calls on the EEAS, in line with Article 9 of Council Decision 2010/427/EU of 26 July 2010, to ensure that the programming, implementation and monitoring of the country initiatives for promoting the gender perspective in pre-conflict, conflict and post-conflict situations are managed at delegation level in order better to target the specificities of each context and the probability of an existing regional dimension;


Calls on the Member States to adopt, implement and monitor their National Action Plans on women, peace and security; reiterates its call to the EU and Member States to develop in their plans and strategies a set of minimum standards comprising realistic objectives with specific indicators, benchmarks, timelines, allocated budget and an effective monitoring mechanism; underlines the importance of the involvement of NGOs in the development, implementation and monitoring of the action plans;


Calls on the EU to ensure balanced recruitment in missions and operations and to promote more women to the leadership level, for example as EU Heads of Delegation to third countries and EU Heads of Mission;


Highlights the Commission’s call for the EU to support third countries in complying with and implementing international obligations, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Cairo Programme of Action, the Beijing Platform for Action and the UN Millennium Declaration;


Strongly supports the inclusion of Gender Advisors or Gender Focal Points within Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and EU delegations and calls on the HR/VP to prevent their double-hatting and to provide them with adequate resources and authority;


Underlines the importance of awareness-raising campaigns in the fight against stereotypes, discrimination (based on gender, culture or religion) and domestic violence, along with their importance for gender equality in general; notes that these campaigns should be complemented by the promotion of a positive image of women through female role models in the context of the media, advertising, educational materials and the internet;


Calls for the establishment of adequate public complaint procedures in the context of CSDP missions, which would particularly assist the reporting of sexual and gender-based violence; calls on the HR/VC to include a detailed report on women, peace and security in the six-monthly evaluation of CSDP missions; recalls that CSDP missions are one of the EU’s most important tools for demonstrating its commitment to the objectives of UNSC Resolutions 1820 and 1325 in crisis-affected countries and regions;


Calls for a specific allocated budget for assessing and monitoring data gathered on the basis of the indicators developed at EU level; calls for specific budget lines for gender expertise, and projects and activities on women, peace and security in CSDP missions;


Calls on the EU’s budgetary authority to increase the financial resources allocated for promoting gender equality and women’s rights in the future Development Financing Instruments for the 2014-2020 period;


Calls on the EU High Representative and the Commission to take the necessary measures to improve the complementarity and timely mobilisation of all financial instruments for EU external action, namely the European Development Fund, the Development Cooperation Instrument, the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument, the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the Instrument for Stability, in order to avoid fragmentation of the EU’s response to women’s situation in war;


Calls for specific support from the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) as regards the collection, processing and dissemination of effective gender mainstreaming practices in the implementation of the Beijing indicators in the area of women and armed conflicts;


Highlights the important role played by the EC/UN Partnership on Gender Equality for Development and Peace, which aims to identify approaches with which to integrate gender equality and women’s human rights into new aid modalities, to provide support for national partners’ efforts to fulfil international obligations on gender equality and to match their commitment to gender equality with adequate financial allocations in national development programmes and budgets; stresses that this project has a specific focus on the role of women in conflict and post-conflict situations, and especially on the proper implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325;


Calls for the Union, when proposing aid for post-conflict reconstruction, to focus on setting up schools with a view to improving education for boys and girls;


Welcomes the various initiatives to create gender-specific early-warning and conflict surveillance indicators, such as those taken by UN Women, the Council of Europe, the Swiss Foundation for Peace, International Alert and the Forum on Early Warning and Early Response;


Emphasises the importance of putting women at the centre of water supply, sanitation and hygiene policy in conflict and post-conflict areas, and emphasises, therefore, the importance of increasing access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and water for productive uses;


* *


Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, and to the governments of the Member States.

(1)  A/RES/48/104.

(2)  Annex to Council Conclusions of 7 March 2011.

(3)  Council document 09990/2011 of 11 May 2011.

(4)  Council document 15671/1/2008 of 1 December 2008.

(5)  Council document 08373/3/2005 of 18 May 2005.

(6)  Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0439.

(7)  OJ C 212 E, 5.8.2010, p. 32.

(8)  OJ C 298 E, 8.12.2006, p. 287.

(9)  Ten-year Impact Study on Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security in Peacekeeping, Final Report to the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations Department of Field Support, 2010.

(10)  Council doc. 11948/2010 of 14 July 2010.

(11)  Council doc. 09990/2011 of 11 May 2011.

(12)  As laid down in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the Council of Europe’s European Social Charter (revised), Part I, Principle 11.

(13)  56th World Health Assembly A56/27, Provisional Agenda Item 14.18, 24 April 2003, International Conference on Primary Health Care, Alma-Ata: 25th anniversary, report by the Secretariat.