Date of Award

Summer 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

Regina Karp

Committee Member

Jennifer Fish

Committee Member

Francis Adams


Systematic mass rape during conflict has for centuries met with global ignorance and political complacency despite its atrocious character. The conflicts in Bosnia and Rwanda in the 1990s altered the silence surrounding this long tolerated, dark underbelly of war. Applying Barry Buzan's and Ole Waever'sSecuritization Theory to the cases of Bosnia and Rwanda, this dissertation finds that rape during both wars was successfully securitized. Securitization Theory as a model and indicator of an effective shifting of rape from an apolitical or political perspective into the security realm was appropriate. Bosnia initiated the first convictions of rape as a crime against humanity. The Tribunal of Rwanda for the first time prosecuted rape as a distinct feature of genocide. Bosnia and Rwanda, however, also represent pivotal turning points, which not only caused this securitization — but appear to demand the continued securitization of rape lest it returns to the margins of politics. Through the speech act, the theory's key identifying mechanism, this dissertation traces specific rhetorical markers, which throughout the interplay of a multitude of actors (institutions; non-governmental organizations; states; media) securitized rape during both conflicts — and beyond. In 1998, the Rome Statute not only established the International Criminal Court but, similar to the tribunals in Bosnia and Rwanda, defined rape as a war crime. In 2000 and in 2009 the U.N. Security Council passed landmark resolutions, underscoring for the first time the inherent link between systematic rape, war and global security. The successful securitization of rape, however, also introduces wide-ranging complexities — due to the uniquely distinct character of rape. This dissertation articulates these complexities and explores a research agenda that addresses the incentives and disincentives for the continued securitization of rape in violent conflict.


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