Executive short course highlight

Executive short course highlight


Title: Sexual Violence and in Conflict and Emergency Settings
When: 23-29 November 2019
Where: Entebbe, Uganda
Number of participants: 31

The course combines leading-edge research with practical experience from experts in the field. This is also one of the few courses to address both male and female survivors of sexual violence.

This edition of the course was co-coordinated by Dr. Meg Davis and Joanina Karugaba, senior sexual gender-based violence advisor at the UN Refugee Agency (UNCHR). The Geneva Operational Centre of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), one of CERAH’s partner organisations, provided logistical support.

The course offers an overview to prevention and response to sexual violence in conflicts and emergencies for humanitarian programme managers. Participants of this edition of the course were coming from Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia, and work in diverse contexts ranging from Colombia to Syria, Mali and Yemen. This diversity of backgrounds offered further opportunity to the students to share ideas, experiences and best practices.

Some sessions of the course covered core concepts, international human rights and international humanitarian law standards, ethics and methods of data-gathering to inform situation analysis. Other sessions focused on a survivor-centered response to sexual violence (medical care, mental health and psychosocial support, policies on pregnancy as a result of rape, and access to justice). The co-coordinators emphasized the need to be skeptical of data on prevalence, given that sexual violence is widely under-reported. They also discussed how underlying power relationships in society could create vulnerabilities as well as barriers to accessing services, especially for marginalized groups such as LGBTI survivors, ethnic or racial minorities, or people with disabilities. Both coordinators returned repeatedly to reflect on the impact of sexual violence for people living with HIV, as the course ran the week before World AIDS Day (1st December). They also highlighted the universality of sexual violence, and the fact that many humanitarian organisations have experienced it among their own staff.

 On Wednesday 27 November, course participants had a full day led by members of the Refugee Law Project on their experience working with male survivors, including a powerful session led by activist community representatives from Men of Hope Refugee Association, a support group that brings together male refugee survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. Thursday and Friday were dedicated to prevention, risk mitigation, and monitoring and evaluation. Other speakers came from MSF, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Population Council and the SASA! Raising Voices project. Participants had reading every night, which was discussed in the class, and a short-answer assessment that everyone passed. 

This Executive Short Course is supported and advised by a steering committee that includes representatives from UNHCR, ICRC, MSF, the Refugee Law Project, and an independent human rights lawyer. The committee meets twice a year, reviews reports and evaluations of each session, and advises on content, as well as providing speakers and participants.

The next edition of this intensive one-week course will run in Geneva from 16 to 20 March 2020, applications are now open.