Beyond a 'survivor-centred approach' to conflict-related sexual violence?

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In Resolution 2467 (2019), the most recent addition to the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, the UN Security Council embraced the idea of a 'survivor-centred approach' to preventing and responding to conflict-related sexual violence. While this terminology is now widely used in international policy circles, the general lack of critical reflection on the concept of survivor-centrism is striking. Addressing this gap, this interdisciplinary article seeks to demonstrate that a survivor-centred approach, by itself, is too narrow. It utilizes the ecological concept of connectivity - which refers to connections that enable and facilitate vital ecological processes - and repurposes it in a social science context to develop the article's core argument: that survivor-centred discourse marginalizes, or neglects, the fundamental webs of connectivity in which the everyday lives of those who have suffered conflict-related sexual violence are intricately interwoven. The article draws on qualitative interviews with victims/survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia and Uganda to empirically develop two particular 'connectivity critiques' of survivor-centred discourse, focused on resources and health respectively. Ultimately, it is not advocating the abandonment of a survivor-centred approach, but, rather, a social-ecological reframing of it. It presents connectivity as a new conceptual approach for thinking about and dealing with conflict-related sexual violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1067-1084
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Affairs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding information: This research was supported by the European Research Council under grant number 724518.


  • conflict-related sexual violence
  • connectivity
  • health
  • resources
  • social ecology
  • survivor-centred approach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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