Lessons Learned & Looking to the Future: UK’s Leadership on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict

Sexual violence remains a powerful and devastating tool in conflicts around the world. The United Kingdom has been at the forefront of raising awareness about its lasting impact on individuals and communities – but there is much more to be done.

In 2014, the UK Government’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) paved the way for the UK becoming a leading advocate and investment donor to address the scourge of wartime sexual violence. However, two major new analysis reports from the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) find a mixed report card on the PSVI, and for the UK’s efforts to address sexual exploitation and abuse in international peacekeeping.

On the 18 November 2020, the BFPG convened a panel of experts to discuss the UK’s leadership on sexual violence in conflict and how best to take the PSVI forward.

  • Baroness Arminka Helić has been a Conservative Peer in the House of Lords since 2014, where she is a member of the International Relations and Defence Committee. She is a Board Member of the Trust Fund for Victims of the International Criminal Court, and a Member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters. She also sits on the Foreign Office Advisory Board for the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI). Arminka was Senior Special Adviser to The Rt Hon William Hague MP throughout his time as UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (2010-2014), and prior to that during his five years as Shadow Foreign Secretary.
  • Christina Lamb is the Sunday Times’ Chief Foreign Correspondent, and author of ‘Our Bodies, Their Battlefield: What War Does to Women,’ (London: William Collins, March 2020.) She has reported from most of the world’s hotspots starting with Afghanistan. Since being named Young Journalist of the Year in her early career, she has won 15 major awards including five times being named Foreign Correspondent of the Year and Europe’s top war reporting prize, the Prix Bayeux. She was made an OBE by the Queen in 2013 and is an honorary fellow of University College, Oxford.
  • Dr Maria Al Abdeh is a researcher and executive director of Women Now For Development (WND). Maria has a PhD in Molecular Biology and a master degree in project analysis and sustainable development. She joined Women Now for Development in November 2013 and since then she accompanied the growth of the organization to become the largest network of women inside Syria and the neighboring countries. Her current research and Advocacy focus on women under conflict and women rights in the MENA region. In March 2016 Maria received the Award of Feminine Success in France, and together with WND received in May 2016 the Award of ‘Delivering Lasting Change’ for commitment to justice and dignity from CARE international.
  • Dr Tamsyn Barton is the Chief Commissioner at the Independent Commission for Aid Impact. Tamsyn has 25 years’ experience working in international development, delivering and overseeing a wide variety of programmes including those run by UK government, small NGOs and International Financial Institutions. Most recently before joining ICAI, Tamsyn was the Chief Executive of Bond, the umbrella body for UK-based international civil society organisations. Tamsyn was a Trustee of SOAS from 2015-2019. She remains Chair of SOAS’ Senior Salaries Remuneration Committee and Chair of the South-East Asian Academic Arts Programme.
  • Sophia Gaston (Chair) is Director of the British Foreign Policy Group. A social and political researcher specialising in public opinion, her research particularly explores populism, nationalism and the rise of anti-establishment movements, as well as broader threats to governance in Western nations.

Further Reading and Resources

Matt Gillow

Matt is the Communications & Events Manager at the British Foreign Policy Group.