Whilst sexual violence has been an offence associated both with war- and peacetime throughout history, its rise to the tables where international peace and security are negotiated, represents a significant shift. This article continues the scholarly conversation about conflict-related sexual violence and its emergence as a “hot topic” on academic, political, and activist agendas. Specifically, we ask how and why criminal law constitutes the ultimately meaningful response to such violence. Building on frame analysis, we address how the fight against conflict-related sexual violence has become the fight against impunity. We examine what imageries of victims and perpetrators, causes and consequences key actors within interstate diplomacy and human rights advocacy evoke to drive this development. We argue that these narratives shape the political discourse on conflict-related sexual violence, which may in turn influence the perceived political maneuverability in the face of such harms.
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