Academic journal article Suffolk Transnational Law Review

Fails So Good: An Examination of the United Nations' Ineffective Implementation of Resolution 1820 in Democratic Republic of Congo

Academic journal article Suffolk Transnational Law Review

Fails So Good: An Examination of the United Nations' Ineffective Implementation of Resolution 1820 in Democratic Republic of Congo

Article excerpt


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)


A. 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)

B. 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. …

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