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Summary of case: (Rape and HIV as weapons of war)

History of war and conflict often entails incidents of sexual acts and violence
against women, and this is still true to modern day wars. The difference
between rape in pre-1990 conflicts and modern day wars, such as the incidents
in Yugoslavia, Sudan and Rwanda, is the intention to transfer HIV to the victims
as a weapon of war. Although there are debates whether the intention to
transfer HIV is conclusive, there is evidence confirming the deliberate nature of
these acts. The evidence provided includes unofficial statistics and data, and
victim accounts. In efforts to reconstruct post conflict societies, the
disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process assists in
providing resources and programs to help victims of war rehabilitate. However,
this treatment is not available for victims of rape and the authors argument is
that these victims of rape should have the right to financial reparation,
psychological and physical rehabilitation (Objiofor Aginam, 2012).
Brief discussion of theory:
Idealism is a specific form of liberalism that debates the need for states to
pursue moral goals and to behave ethically in the international community. It is
believed that behaviour considered immoral on a social level is also immoral in
foreign policy. It believes that by following morality and moral values, nations
can help the world to eliminate war, inequality and violence. The main features
of idealism are that; global efforts are needed to violence, and that human
welfare and advancement of civilization are the concerns of all.
A world full of human happiness is not beyond human power to achieve.
Bertrand Russell
Analysis of the application of the theory:
Unlike realism or liberalism, idealism deals with individuals and societies rather
than states or the international system. Idealism concerns itself with rejecting
the harmful nature of human nature in favour of new ways determined by
knowledge, reason and compassion. Idealism and realism are complete polar
opposites as the realist approach rejects the idealist view of a utopia.
Liberalism is not the same as idealism but it does have similarities. Both
liberalism and idealism are based on the need to protect and improve the
individual. However, the liberalist approach requires actors to strategically
calculate the costs and benefits before acting, following a logic of
consequences. This is unlike idealism as actors behave in accordance with
their sense of appropriateness.
In this case, the author is arguing about the moral obligation to provide victims
of rape with financial reparation, psychological and physical rehabilitation.
Thus, in this case, the most suitable theory to be applied would be idealism.

However, there is a slight hint of liberalism as well. The fact remains whether or
not transmission of HIV through rape was intentional or not. If it is so, liberalists
would argue that states should cooperate to prevent this and are responsible
for protecting victims of war from such atrocities.

How does the theory explain/interpret the case:

Through the perspective of an idealist, the case argues that there is a moral
obligation to provide victims of rape with assistance. It is argued that it is
clearly a case of inequality as the welfare of humans suffering from rape are
not catered to as well as others involved. The only payments being given out
are to those ex-combatants in the attempt of de-mobilization of the armies,
resulting in the end of the war. However, no resources or programs are
provided to those who have already suffered from the war. What is clear here is
that the interest of the state have been catered to - the end of the war, but the
social and interpersonal issues are yet to be dealt with - the victims of rape. In
the end, it is a moral argument made in an attempt to achieve equality in
treatment and rehabilitation amongst all persons involved in war and violence.
Issues and actors identified by the theory:
An idealist issue presented in the argument is that victims of rape ought to
receive the right to financial reparation, psychological and physical
rehabilitation. If, as in most DDR programmes, cash payments are often made
to ex-combatants for de-mobilization, there is no reason why equal payments
should not be made to rape victims infected with HIV.
A liberalist issue presented in the argument is whether the transmission of HIV
was intentional or not, driven by the weaponization of HIV. This would result
in states bringing about peace as it would be in each others interest to fight
each other.
However, in the wars mentioned in the case, it seems that the wars mentioned
are fought within a single state rather than states against each other. This does
not mean that the possibility does not exist though. The author seems to be
targeting this argument towards DDR programmes.
Limitations of incentives to the actors:
The main actors of the case seems to be International Non-Government
Organisations (INGOs). The limitation of INGOs in addressing these issues
raised by the author is a monetary limitation. INGOs generally are independent
from the government and thus have no treasury of their own, working on
donations and support from the international community. It may be that it is
not as if INGOs do not want to support victims of rape, but simply do not have
the funds to do so, and must address higher priorities first.

What aspects of the case do you need to emphasize and what aspects
are not as important?
The author seems to include the fact that HIV is to be seen as a weapon of war.
The author then argues later on that victims of rape should have the right to
financial reparation, psychological and physical rehabilitation. What I believe,
however, is that the main argument of this case should not be whether or not
HIV is to be seen as a weapon of war, but the issue of violence and rape should
be the most forefront topic. From an idealist approach, rape resulting in HIV
and rape not resulting in HIV are both atrocities which need to be addressed.

Andrew Moravcsik, Liberalism and international relations theory. Harvard
Univeristy. pg, 92-96
Emilian Kavalski, (2015). Encounters with world affairs. An introduction to
international relations. England
Objiofor Aginam, (2012). Rape and HIV as weapons of war. UNU Press.
SparkNotes Editors. (2010). SparkNote on International Politics. Retrieved
October 30, 2015, from
Yourarticlelibrary. (2015). Idealism: Idealism in international relations. Retreived
from October 19, 2015, from