Sexual and gender-based violence during times of armed conflict or in the aftermath of disasters and other emergencies

Michael Meyer
Head of International Law
British Red Cross


  • The British Red Cross provided support to an ICRC cash programme providing assistance to victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • The British Red Cross provided support to ICRC research on approaches to the potential consequences of mandatory reporting of sexual assault.
  • The British Red Cross developed a policy and advocacy briefing on the social safety net project for survivors of sexual violence, providing recommendations for better programmatic responses. This was shared as best practice within the Gender & Diversity/ SGBV Movement network and will be utilised in communications with the UK’s Department for International Development and in UK policy forums.
  • The British Red Cross is part of a consortium-led programme on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights by the Red Cross Society of Guinea, which specifically addresses female genital mutilation.
  • As part of the West & Central Africa Gender and Diversity working group, the British Red Cross supported and participated in a training to strengthen the capacity of key staff of francophone African National Societies (focal points but also key programme staff, governance or management representatives) to support advocacy initiatives in order to contribute to the reduction of gender inequality, gender discrimination and violence against women or other vulnerable groups, in particular the reduction of gender-based violence.
  • The British Red Cross actively participated in a Movement-wide workshop to develop a SGBV training for National Societies and Federation delegates.
  • In early May 2016 the British Red Cross and the ICRC held a public event entitled “Local to International: Responding to Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Conflict and Crises”.  The event explored the humanitarian system and its response to the issue.
  • In early June 2016 the British Red Cross held a joint seminar on IHL issues with the Commonwealth Secretariat, which included a session on addressing SGBV in armed conflicts and disasters. The seminar was aimed primarily at officials of Commonwealth High Commissions in London.

Programme challenges have included social and cultural reluctance to address explicitly some aspects of SGBV, as well as the requirement to maintain anonymity of survivors, owing to the existence of mandatory reporting obligations in some domestic contexts.