June 21, 2023

TSC Webinar: Bringing Terrorists to Justice: Accountability for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

June 21, 2023
10-11am EST

TSC hosted a webinar discussing accountability mechanisms available to hold terrorist actors accountable for sexual and gender-based violence. This event was hosted in partnership with the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations.

Discussion Background

In 2015, the United Nations recognized the use of sexual violence as a tactic of terrorism. Terrorist groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, and al-Shabaab have often incorporated sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) into both strategic and tactical approaches to assert power, marginalize and eradicate communities and punish dissent. In 2021, the UN’s Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) found “clear and convincing evidence” that ISIS had perpetrated genocide against the group; men and boys were routinely killed with women and young girls, including children, subjected to sexual violence, and sold into slavery, often multiple times. Yet victims like the Yazidis of Iraq have struggled to see their aggressors brought to justice and global rates of prosecutions for the use of SGBV by terrorists remains low. Despite the potential application of UN Security Council 2331 to use sanctions to address some of these issues, it remains a notably under-utilized option. While some states have taken up this cause at a national level, the Securing the Future Initiative found that terrorism prosecutions overwhelmingly ignore sexual violence charges in favor of more traditional terrorism legal sanctions, while the UN Secretary-General found in 2021 that “impunity for crimes of conflict-related sexual violence remains the norm and the pace of justice remains slow.”This webinar discussion will focus on international efforts to deliver justice for both survivors and perpetrators, map the state of prosecutions for terrorist crimes at the intersection of human trafficking and sexual violence in conflict, and discuss recommendations for policymakers and practitioners, including in the United Nations regarding terrorist use of SGBV.Speakers

IntroductionNaureen Chowdhury Fink, Executive Director, The Soufan Center

Opening ReflectionsJonathan Hollis, Legal Counsellor, United Kingdom Mission to the United NationsModeratorColin P. Clarke, Senior Research Fellow, The Soufan Center

Adejoke Babington-Ashaye, Senior Research Fellow, The Soufan CenterTanya Mehra, Senior Research Fellow, International Centre for Counter-TerrorismAdria de Landri, Resident Fellow, The International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law