Today, 91 countries spoke out on the importance of strengthening the criterion on gender-based violence in the Arms Trade Treaty in order to ensure that it is legally-binding and not subject to voluntary risk mitigation measures. Ahead of the release of the second edition of the draft treaty text, countries from around the world led by Iceland, indicated support for a criterion that will make State parties assess whether there is a substantial risk that the conventional arms to be transferred could be used to commit or facilitate acts of gender-based violence, including rape and other forms of sexual violence. This reflects the long-standing support there has been for this issue at previous conferences.
Conflict situations create the conditions whereby both State and non-state actors, emboldened by their weapons, inflict sexual violence. As former UN Peacekeeping Commander Major General Patrick Cammaert has said: “’It is now more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in modern conflict.” Sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war, with women and girls tortured and violently raped as a tactic of armed groups to assert power and domination.
Considering the gendered dimensions and impacts of the arms trade, particularly the frequency with which arms are used to facilitate gender-based violence, robust regulations around GBV in the treaty is an imperative.