Declaration offers important consensus for reparations for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence

two people with their hands overlapping each other

York researchers release the “Kinshasa Declaration,” a collaboratively developed, survivor-centred document on the right to reparation and co-creation for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict situations.

Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) Professors Anna M. Agathangelou and Annie Bunting co-led and co-organized an international conference in November 2021 that led to the recently completed survivor-centred Kinshasa Declaration.

Anna M. Agathangelou
Anna M. Agathangelou

The Kinshasa Declaration is an urgent call for survivor-centred participation in the articulation, co-creation and evaluation of sexual and gendered-based conflict-related transformative reparations, and toward peace and justice for women, men and children. The document outlines the right to reparation for survivors of conflict-related gender and sexual violence. The Declaration comes out of many years of collaboration with partners and the culminating meeting, It’s Time: Survivors’ Hearing on Transformative Reparations held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“Survivors place emphasis in the declaration on the key issues of their dignity; their capacity and leadership and need to be involved as equal partners in creating programs; a broad definition of conflict-related sexual violence and victimization; children born of sexual violence and male survivors of sexual and gender-based violence; and intergenerational harm,” said Bunting, a professor in the Law & Society program.

Annie Bunting
Annie Bunting

As part of the Conjugal Slavery in War Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Grant (2015-22), housed at the Harriet Tubman Institute, the partnership grant project led by Bunting with Agathangelou and other researchers, partners in Africa worked with the research team and the Global Survivors Fund to identify key themes for the survivors’ hearing in Kinshasa. 

Researchers, experts, civil society organizations and survivor activists from 12 African countries contributed to the development of the Key Principles on reparations at the survivors’ hearing over several years with the support of SSHRC Partnership Grant at York University. Partner organizations, survivors, graduate students and the drafting committee worked together to articulate the most important issues for meaningful transformative reparations, developing a consensus document on reparations for conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. The document was finalized through workshops in Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Uganda.

“The Kinshasa Declaration is a tremendous achievement among partners across more than a dozen countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and many other international actors to make concrete change for survivors of sexual violence. York researchers’ leadership on this document and on the partnership that underpins it is remarkable,” said York Vice-President Research and Innovation Amir Asif.

The survivors’ hearing and the process was funded through SSHRC, the Global Survivors Fund, the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation at York University, the Ford Foundation, the Global Fund for Women and the Government of Canada.