Draw a Red Line to end
conflict-related sexual violence


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The Red Line Initiative is inspired by Dr Denis Mukwege’s call for bold and new thinking to finally put an end to the wholly unacceptable use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. The RED LINE INITIATIVE is rooted in the belief that conflict-related sexual violence represents a violation of our shared humanity and can no longer be accepted as an unfortunate but unpreventable part of armed conflict.

The use of sexual violence in conflict can be prevented and must be prioritised as wholly unacceptable.

More and more, it is recognised that conflict-related sexual violence is not random or merely opportunistic. It is a strategy used by armed groups fighting in conflicts worldwide for a range of reasons: to terrorise a civilian population, to persecute and destroy an ethnic group, as a ‘reward’ for combatants, or for financial gains. Unfortunately, perpetrators of these crimes largely go unpunished, and judicial processes do not meet survivors’ needs.

The Red Line Initiative collaborates with the Global Network of Victims and Survivors to End Wartime Sexual Violence (SEMA Network) in identifying gaps within the existing law and its implementation – as well as proposing solutions to address them.


In order to break the cycle of violence and culture of impunity, there needs to be a strong response from States at both the national and international level. We believe that real change requires three elements: a mass moral outcry and rejection of Conflict related sexual violence in all its forms, the legal tools to prevent and deter it, and the political will to implement a robust response.


The Red Line Initiative represents the focussed action needed to address this systemic problem and to establish a clear legal framework for strong and timely action. It aims to:


Evoke a clear moral rejection and outcry against the use of CRSV in all its forms, including as a method of warfare;


Strengthen and clarify the legal obligations on States to not only not use sexual violence in conflict, but to also prevent and punish it, as well as to repair the harms it causes;


Build political will to ensure a more robust and timely response by States in line with their international obligations.

We recognise that decades of work have been put into efforts seeking to end conflict related sexual violence and important progress has been made. Despite these efforts, we firmly believe that more must and still needs to be done.


We want to accomplish real change and we need support from a global and diverse community of different actors, with survivors of CRSV centred at the core of our efforts. As a part of our goal to change the status quo, we have started with the creation of the Red Line Guidebook on State Obligations for Conflict-related Sexual Violence. The Guidebook compiles the applicable international law and standards relevant to CRSV in order to inform States of their current obligations in a comprehensive manner. It aims to address the awareness gap to provide States with an accessible and easy to use tool to ensure that they are meeting their obligations in preventing, stopping, and responding to CRSV under international law. It is also intended to serve as an advocacy tool for survivor groups, CSOs, and NGOs. We will explore solutions to fill current legal gaps especially related to the lack of State responsibility, but also to strengthen the enforcement of existing obligations.