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CEDAW, the Islamic State, and Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

Author: Christine Gibbons


Tales of the Islamic State (ISIL) and the group’s brutality shocked the world for several years. Now, however, ISIL has been nearly defeated. As ISIL has lost territorial control, the world has learned more details about its cruel enslavement system, including the severe sexual violence that ISIL inflicted on the Yazidis. Now, many advocates are calling for justice for the Yazidis and other victims of ISIL’s sexual violence. This Note uses the case of the Yazidis to examine the strengths and limits of the international framework for addressing conflict-related sexual violence. In particular, this Note examines the history of the international community’s response to conflict-related sexual violence and how the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women provides a useful, though imperfect, framework for addressing this issue. This Note discusses how the due diligence standard requires states to investigate, punish, and redress conflict-related sexual violence, and how Iraq, in its current state, may provide accountability for the crimes committed by ISIL through prosecutions, reparations, and other reforms.

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