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Preventing conflict-related sexual violence within armed forces: CADHA’s good practices

27 Oct 2020 9:8

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Security Council (SC) Resolution 1325, GAAMAC reached out to Mr Bakari Sidiki Diaby, General Coordinator of the African Coordination of Human Rights for Armies (CADHA), and member of GAAMAC African Working Group. CADHA is an organization with an excellent track record in preventing conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence among armed forces.

Can you give us an overview of how CADHA's mission and work have contributed to a change of mentality within the armed forces and why this has been so important?

The African Coordination of Human Rights for Armies (CADHA), has contributed to behavioural change through training and the fight against impunity in a post-crisis situation. This has been necessary for the restoration of the rule of law, respect for human rights and peacebuilding.

CADHA's work has a remarkable track record in preventing conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence and promoting women's participation in the Ivorian armed forces. Can you share examples of good practices from CADHA's activities (training, awareness-raising, capacity building) that have contributed to Côte d'Ivoire being taken off the UN "List of Shame"?

The African Coordination of Human Rights for the Armed Forces (CADHA) is a civil society organization created during the post-electoral crisis of 2010-2011 in Côte d'Ivoire. The CADHA, with the support of the United Nations, the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), has contributed to the capacity building of military personnel.

Indeed, a 2011 UNOCI report revealed more than 400 cases of rape attributable to the Armed Forces of Côte d'Ivoire. It was necessary to work to fight against impunity and restore the image of the armed forces.

In 10 years, the CADHA has strengthened the capacity of 20,580 armed forces personnel. In 2018 there were no cases of rape. This result has earned Côte d'Ivoire the distinction of being the first and only country to be removed from the so-called “list of shame”. This is a list of the Secretary General of the United Nations that includes the names of countries whose armed forces are perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence.

Similarly, can you provide us with examples of good practices resulting from the activities carried out by the CADHA (awareness-raising, advocacy, training) to promote the participation of Ivorian women in the armed forces?

CADHA's work for a better consideration of the gender issue is ongoing. In fact, less than 2% of the armed forces are women. An awareness-raising programme has been set up in junior high schools and high schools for young girls in order to encourage vocations among the female population to embrace military careers.

In 2021, we plan to honour the women officers of the different units on Mother's Day to encourage their daughters to follow in their footsteps. Also, we are advocating for a greater presence of women in peace operations in Africa. In different actions we ask the units to put women in the staff for our different training seminars.

What recommendations do you have for preventing conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence? What further activities should CADHA undertake in this regard?

Our recommendations are to continue raising awareness, the training of trainers in order to relay the message in all the units. The fight against impunity must also be strengthened to ensure non-repetition.

Our future actions for 2020 will take into account the electoral context, the problem of securing the electoral process while respecting human rights. In 2021, we will undertake actions to prevent mass atrocities, genocide and hate speech through activities with officers and non-commissioned officers.

Mr Bakari Sidiki Diaby, General Coordinator of the African Coordination of Human Rights for Armies (CADHA), and member of GAAMAC African Working Group. CADHA is an organization with an excellent track record in preventing conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence among armed forces.