Fails so good: an examination of the United Nations' ineffective implementation of Resolution 1820 in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Author:Wright, Lindsay L.

    No other human rights violation has been ignored and left unresolved as much as sexual violence against women. (1) The United Nations deferred formal recognition of rape as a war crime until 2008, when it passed S.C. Res. 1820 (Resolution 1820). (2) Efforts to end sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) failed despite a detailed U.N. strategy to end atrocities. (3) On July 30, 2010, two rebel militias invaded the eastern region of the DRC. (4)

    Militia members victimized more than 500 women during a mass rape that took place over a four-day period. (5) Despite the United Nations' efforts to end such atrocities, mass raping of civilian women and children seems to be an inevitable corollary of war. (6)

    This Note will set forth the importance of Resolution 1820's enactment and discuss methods needed to make Resolution 1820 more effective. (7) Part II will highlight the historical use of rape as a war tactic, discuss the recent mass rapes in the DRC, and highlight the U.N. strategy to prevent such atrocities. (8) Part II will also discuss Europe's and the United States' focus on corporate responsibility as an approach to ending mass rapes in the DRC. (9) Part III will present the history and creation of Resolution 1820. (10) Part IV of this Note will examine the current implementation methods of Resolution 1820, and discuss the need for more action to prevent mass rape in the DRC. (11) Finally, Part V will conclude and emphasize the need for specific actions to end sexual violence in the DRC. (12)

  2. FACTS

    1. Rape as a War Tactic

      1. Mass Rape in the DRC: Four Days in 2010

        In July 2010, the largest mass rape ever recorded occurred in the eastern region of the DRC. (13) Within a four-day period, rebel groups terrorized and sexually assaulted over 500 women. (14) The amount of violence shocked local doctors, and initial reports described the numbers as "defying belief." (15) Such rebel militia groups use rape as a war tactic to demoralize the enemy and reveal weaknesses. (16) Although a treaty was signed in 2003 ending the Congolese conflict, militia groups continue to wage war over mining areas in the DRC. (17) As a result, militia groups continue to victimize thousands of women in an effort to gain control of the mines. (18)

      2. History of Rape and War

        Rape has prevailed for centuries as a tactic to belittle and demoralize the enemy. (19) Rape is an act of sexual aggression, and like war, rape is driven by desire for power and control. (20) During armed conflict, militias rape massive numbers of women and children to establish their power and dominance, as well as to instill fear. (21) Perpetrators expose the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of individual victims to communicate messages of conquest to a larger audience. (22)

        Conflict plagues the DRC due to the long-felt power struggle between rebel groups and the revolving Congolese government. (23) As a result, rebel militias lacking resources rape thousands of women to demonstrate their power. (24) Women living in areas rich in mineral resources are more prone to attack because each militia desires power over the minerals. (25) Communities ostracize raped women,

        treating them as damaged property. (26) Thus rebels establish dominance of mineral-rich areas by invading and weakening community property. (27)

    2. The United Nations in the DRC

      Despite the U.N.'s decade-long presence in the county, the largest mass rape ever recorded occurred in eastern DRC in July 2010, victimizing thousands of women. (28) Logically, the longer the United Nations works within the DRC, the more conditions should improve. (29) Unfortunately, implementation of U.N. missions and related peacekeepers accomplished little to effectively protect women of the DRC. (30)

      1. The U.N. Mission

        In 1999, the United Nations established an organization to enforce stabilization in the DRC. (31) The organization mandated that peacekeepers enforce various U.N. resolutions in an effort to end conflict in the DRC. (32) In 2009, pursuant to Resolution 1820, the United Nations created a strategic method focused solely on preventing sexual violence in the DRC. (33)

        The U.N. mission sets forth an objective to "strengthen prevention, protection, and response to sexual violence" as an incremental and ongoing process. (34) Four components are set forth to describe how the United Nations' objective to implement Resolution 1820 will be achieved. (35) Two of these components focus primarily on the efforts of U.N. peacekeepers. (36) The recent mass raping in the eastern DRC, however, highlights the failure of the U.N. mission regarding components two and three. (37)

      2. U.N. Peacekeepers in the DRC

        In order to end sexual violence in the DRC pursuant to Resolution 1820, the United Nations must use peacekeepers. (38) As a result, peacekeepers are trained in accordance with U.N. principles and guidelines. (39) Unfortunately, because U.N. peacekeeping missions are comprised of various groups, including local government officials, enforcing U.N. principles proves to be a difficult task. (40)

        Although the United Nations faces challenges as a result of the complex mix of peacekeepers within each mission, it may still effectively train multiple kinds of peacekeepers. (41) The United Nations also has the ability to provide for adequate leaders within each peacekeeping group. (42) Furthermore, the United Nations possesses the means to provide each peacekeeping group with communication devices. (43) The United Nations did not employ any of these methods prior to July 2010. (44) Rather, U.N. peacekeepers located twenty miles from the scene of the mass rape were unaware of the events until one week later. (45) Some peacekeepers never had training in protecting civilians; others chose not to patrol areas when on duty. (46)

    3. What About A ttacking at the Source?

      As a response to ongoing human rights violations in the DRC, Europe and the United States have recently taken steps to minimize corporations' impact on human rights violations. (47) Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a theory recognizing business entities' ethical obligations to international society. (48) As a result, the international community is placing greater focus on controlling corporate conduct in relation to conflict minerals, rather than focusing on peacekeeper intervention once violence has ensued. (49) In 2003, the United Nations implemented its CSR obligations in an effort to minimize human rights violations in the DRC. (50)

      1. U.N. Norms

        In 2003, the U.N. Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights created a twelve-paragraph regime articulating corporations' human rights responsibilities called the Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights (U.N. Norms). (51) Under this regime, the United Nations set out to emphasize corporations' responsibilities for securing human rights within its sphere of activity and influence. (52) While the U.N. Norms set out how businesses should protect and promote human rights, none of the CSR responsibilities are mandatory. (53) Also, no international mechanism enforces such responsibilities. (54) Rather, the U.N. Norms act as an influential regime instead of a mandatory and effective method of protecting human rights. (55) Thus, the U.N.

        Norms have not prevented human rights violations on a corporate level, and will not do so unless other countries mandate corporate responsibilities concerning conflict minerals. (56)

      2. U.S. Response

        The United States incorporated its response to the July 2010 events into section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Section 1502). (57) Section 1502 requires manufacturers to report to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) when their products contain conflict minerals from the DRC. (58) Along with yearly reports, companies must submit a due diligence plan to the SEC, which they have 270 days to implement. (59)

        In an effort to prevent the use of rape as a war tactic, the United States is attempting to stop conflict at the source. (60) The market for minerals used in many U.S. products, such as coltan in cell phones, inadvertently promotes conflict in the DRC. (61) As a result, use of rape as a war tactic continues. (62) Congress designed Section 1502 to end violence in the DRC by removing this source of conflict; if no market for minerals exists, conflict over control of minerals will also cease. (63) After the United States' adoption of Section 1502, the European Union has also taken steps toward creating a reporting system for businesses. (64)


    1. Sexual Violence in the DRC

      Sexual violence against women is a regular tactic of war in African regions. (65) The DRC, known as the rape capital of the world, experiences thousands of instances of rape each year. (66) Rebel militias attack mining villages and rape women as a declaration of conquest. (67) In 1998, the United Nations set out to protect the DRC's civilians as a result of such human rights violations. (68) Preventing violations of women's rights, however, did not arise as a component of U.N. missions for several years. (69) Furthermore, the United Nations failed to recognize rape as a war crime until 2008, despite its prolific occurrence in conflict zones. (70)

    2. Taking Action

      Prior to adopting Resolution 1820, the United Nations adopted Resolution 1325. (71) Resolution 1325 set forth an agenda aimed at protecting female civilians in the DRC (72) However, Resolution 1325 did not identify rape as a war crime. (73) As a result, the International Criminal Court (ICC) did not charge or punish military leaders for sexual violence. (74) Rather, the ICC removed rape charges from indictments. (75) As a result of the impotency of both Resolution 1325 and the ICC with regard to prosecuting rape, no leaders were punished and no victims were protected from future acts of sexual violence. (76)

      After a substantial increase in reports of rape...

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