Foreign Policy Blogs

Secretary Clinton in the DRC: Focus on Sexual Violence

On her ten day trip through Africa, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will make two stops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – capital Kinshasa and Goma in the east.

Estimates state that conflict in the DRC (a country the size of the US east of the Mississippi) has resulted in 3.5 million to 7.8 million deaths since 1998, and hundreds of thousands of rapes.  Thus international human rights organizations have called on Clinton to urge the prosecution of those military personnel responsible for human rights abuses – in particular ongoing crimes of sexual violence.

In fact, the stated purpose of the Secretary’s visit to Goma is to put a ‘great deal of focus on the issue of sexual- and gender-based violence which is occurring in the eastern Congo’ and she ‘intends to encourage and push the Congolese Government as well as MONUC, the UN peacekeeping force there, to take a much more aggressive stance against gender-based violence.’

Following UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s report on the systematic use of sexual violence as a weapon as recognized in Security Council Resolution 1820, this trip needs to be a step towards general recognition of the issue’s importance in conflict situations – not just in the DRC, but across the globe.



Lisa Gambone

Lisa Gambone is a NY attorney who has provided pro bono work for Human Rights Watch, the ICTR Prosecution and Lawyers Without Borders, first while practicing at a large law firm in London, now independently. She has also spent time at the Caprivi high treason trials in Namibia and at human rights organizations in Belfast, London and New York. She has helped edit and provided research for several publications, including case books on the law of the ad hoc tribunals and a critique of the Iraqi Anfal Trial. She holds a JD specializing in International Law from Columbia University, an MA in International Economics and European Studies from Johns Hopkins SAIS, and a BA in International Relations - Security & Diplomacy from Brown University. Here, she covers war crimes and international justice.