Project Factsheet
Tools for » Strengthening Prevention of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence with Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs)
Project ID:00073079Description:UNA008 UNICEF prevention: stre
UN Action Agst Sexual Violence
Start Date *: 2 Dec 2009
UN Action Against Sexual Viole
End Date*: 31 Aug 2011
Country: United Nations Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   UNICEF - United Nations Children's Fund

This project aims to develop a set of tools and approaches for engaging with parties to conflict, and calling on them to respect international law and to stop using rape and other forms of sexual violence as a weapon of warfare.  The project has three phases:

Phase 1: UNICEF will engage a Consultant to conduct desk research to catalogue who (international, national and local actors) interacts with and influences parties to conflict and more particularly non-state armed groups.  This will be followed by a compilation of examples of other areas or themes when interactions with non-state armed groups led either to a positive or negative outcome.  This will examples from work to stop child recruitment or abductions, access issues, safe days for vaccinations, and HIV work.  This desk research will also include an analysis of what is known about the motivations for utilizing sexual violence sexual violence in conflict.  The consultant’s work under phase one will also include one field mission to the DRC to work with technical research experts and non-state actors on the development of a methodology to collect information on motivations related to the use of sexual violence in conflict.

Phase 2: Field support to assist field actors in one or two locations to collect more in-depth information on motivations for sexual violence in conflict, through a variety of key informant interviews and other field research techniques. This information will then be used in collaboration with field actors to develop messages and approaches that can be used in discussions with parties to conflict that will help in the design of messages that can be used to stop the use of sexual violence in conflict.  This will include development of and use of research methodologies to will help determine the motivations for the use of rape as a weapon of war. 

Phase 3: Development of tool kit for “influencers” of parties to conflict on how to develop effective messaging and approaches to working with armed groups to persuade them to stop using sexual violence as a weapon of war.  This phase will include the piloting of messages and approaches to use with non-state actors to prevent sexual violence in war. 

This proposal focuses on phase I of this project and has the broad objective of broadening the understanding of how to influence the perpetrators of sexual violence to stop utilizing sexual violence as a tactic of war. This project will build on the manual that was produced by OCHA in January 2006: Humanitarian Negotiations with Armed Groups: A Manual for Practitioners, and the work that UNICEF is already doing on sexual violence in conflict.  For example, in collaboration with members of Monitoring and Reporting Task Forces that have been set up in 14 conflict-affected countries to monitor and report on the six grave violations against children (including sexual violence) (Security Council Resolutions 1612/1882), UNICEF is already engaging non-state actors in the development of action plans to stop the recruitment of children into fighting forces.  In addition, this work will assist in building alliances with the Geneva Call[1] and the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue.[2]  Lastly, this proposal will also lay the foundation for phase II, which will include having the consultant make one field visit to DRC in collaboration with one-to-two technical research experts to work with field actors (UN, government and non-state actors, e.g. rebel groups, NGOs, faith based institutions) on the development of a methodology for the collection of more in-depth information on motivations for sexual violence in conflict. 

The outcomes of phase I include:

  1. An inventory of influencers of various parties to conflict.
  2. A catalogue of current approaches and entry points (based on work done in other similar areas) for interaction with non state armed groups which are specifically relevant to sexual violence in armed conflict.
  3. An analysis of what is known about the motivations for utilizing sexual violence sexual violence in conflict. 
  4. Defined research methodology for the collection of information on motivations for sexual violence in conflict and target countries identified phase II

[1] Geneva Call is a neutral and impartial humanitarian organization dedicated to engaging armed non-State actors (NSAs) towards compliance with the norms of international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights law (IHRL). The organization focuses on NSAs that operate outside effective State control.  

[2] The Center for Humanitarian Dialogue is an independent organization that attempts to improve the global response to armed conflict by mediating between warring parties.  The ultimate goal of its work is to reduce the consequences of violence conflict, improve security, and contribute to peace building. 

Project results

The first phase of the UNICEF/OCHA initiative was completed in 2011. Given the novelty of investigating how to undertake prevention of CRSV with armed groups, the first phase of research focused specifically on non-state armed groups (NSAGs).  It involved mapping and analyzing research and practice that might have relevance to prevention of CRSV committed by NSAGs, as well as identifying key “influencers”— at the international, regional, national and local levels who might effect change in the behavior of armed groups.[1] The first phase also included a mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)[2], the purpose of which was to collect information about sexual violence committed by the various NSAGs operating across the DRC and solicit recommendations from field programmers about methods of reducing CRSV.

To provide oversight and guidance to the study, an inter-agency steering group was created including Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (CDH), Geneva Call, Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), Yale University, UNICEF, International Rescue Committee, WHO, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Bank, OCHA, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), and the Sonke Gender Justice Network.

In so far as it explored a variety of different themes and approaches (e.g. sexual violence, work with NSAGs, prevention, humanitarian dialogue and conflict resolution) the information generated during the first phase of research was extensive.  A proposed framework based on the Ecological Model has been developed to share findings of phase one and provides a basis for guiding future research and action.

The findings show that there are examples of contact/relationship-building between humanitarian actors and armed groups but very few on engagements specifically to prevent sexual violence against civilians. In addition, protection efforts have had limited effect in areas controlled by armed groups. There is a need to better understand the motivations and behavior of armed groups in order to allow a more proactive approach to prevent sexual violence in conflict-affected settings.

Phase one also led to the development of a concept note for an expert group meeting to discuss how best to strengthen the prevention of CRSV by armed groups (See Annex 4).  This meeting will bring together a small group of experts with experience of working in conflict-affected areas and in negotiating with armed groups or CRSV as well as experts working in the field of CRSV.  The overall objectives of the meeting are to: 

  • Strengthen understanding of key issues related to negotiation with armed actors around sensitive topics;
  • Exchange experiences and ideas on possible best practices for engaging with armed actors around the prevention of sexual violence;
  • Summarize main challenges and opportunities for the prevention of CRSV by armed actors in the field; and
  • Identification of next steps required in order to develop a manual and guidelines on how to engage with state and NSAGs on the prevention of sexual violence.

Phase II

The second phase of the UNICEF/OCHA initiative will attempt to build on the outputs of phase one—and expand the focus from NSAGs to include state militaries—in order to develop and field-test draft tools, messages and approaches that could be used to prevent perpetration of sexual violence by all armed groups.  More specifically, phase two will include: 1) the development and field-testing of draft tools and approaches to prevent perpetration of sexual violence by armed actors, including gaining a better understanding of the motivations behind the perpetration of CRSV; 2) linking with UNICEF’s work on social norms with the aim of developing a toolkit for use across humanitarian settings to guide primary prevention efforts targeting social norms related to sexual violence committed in conflict-affected settings, 3) the development of a Manual and of Guidelines on how to engage with state and non-state armed actors; and finally 4) the development of a training package based on the manual and guidelines once they are piloted. 

Outputs associated with the proposal that were developed include:

  • Strengthening Prevention of Conflict-related Sexual Violence with Non-state Armed Groups: Overview of Influencers, Approaches and Experiences for Working with Armed Groups 
  • Strengthening Prevention of Conflict-related Sexual Violence with Non-state Armed Groups: A Preliminary Framework for Key Prevention Strategies and Annex
  • Concept Note: Technical Meeting for Strengthening Prevention of Conflict-related Sexual Violence by Non-state Armed Groups
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If you have questions about this programme you may wish to contact the RC office in United Nations or the lead agency for the programme. The MPTF Office Portfolio Manager (or Country Director with Delegation of Authority) for this programme:

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