From Spoils to Weapons: Framing Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War at the United Nations Security Council
17 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2013 Last revised: 17 Nov 2013
Date Written: 2013
An international issue’s frame has a profound impact on the extent to which activists can persuade states and organizations to view it as a priority. This study examines how wartime sexual violence has transitioned from a ‘spoil of war’ to a proscribed ‘weapon of war’. Wartime sexual violence as an international issue provides an interesting case study of issue framing as it has transitioned — within a relatively short period of two decades — from an inevitable by-product of war to an overlooked women’s human rights issue to an international security issue. Through its transition from ‘women’s issue’ to ‘security issue’, wartime sexual violence has garnered increased international attention and prioritization from civil society, influential states, and the United Nations. Once wartime sexual violence was branded as a ‘security issue’ or a ‘weapon of war’, activists were better equipped to persuade states and international organizations to take action to address it. This study examines the process leading to the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820 to identify and analyze the crucial political mechanisms that made the ‘weapon of war’ frame salient. The political mechanisms involved in this case study have implications for research on issue framing in other areas of International Relations.
Keywords: sexual violence, United Nations, issue framing
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