Rape in Conflict: Battling the Impunity that Stifles its Recognition as a Jus Cogens Human Right

By: Michelle Seyler

Jus cogens is defined as “peremptory norms of general international law from which no derogation is permissible.” Among the human rights issues that fall into this category, such as slavery and genocide, there is one that has yet to be elevated to this level of importance that unequivocally should be: rape in conflict areas.

This paper will first overview the history of rape in conflict, the reasons for its prevalence, and the affects it has on women and communities. Second, it will discuss the legal tools currently available in the international legal field. Third, it will establish genocide as a jus cogens human right issue. Fourth, it will explain that rape has been prosecuted as a form of genocide. Fifth, this paper will argue that protection from rape in conflict should be considered a jus cogens human right separate from the crime of genocide, but regarded with the same importance. Finally, this paper will make recommendations on national and international strategies that will allow the recognition of protection from rape as a jus cogens human right.

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