The UK’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative

A flagship government programme to tackle sexual violence in conflict zones risked letting survivors down due to a lack of senior leadership, poor strategy, and cuts in funding.

Score: Amber/Red
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 9 January 2020
  3. Type: Full review
  4. Subject: Cross-government aid spend, Fragile states, Humanitarian assistance, Women and girls
  5. Assessment: Amber/Red
  6. Location: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burma, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia
  7. Lead commissioner: Tamsyn Barton
  8. SDGs covered:Gender equality

Latest news

We published our report on the UK’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative in January 2020 and awarded an amber-red score. When we followed up a year later, we found the government’s progress towards implementing our recommendations to be inadequate. More details about next steps can be found in the ‘Further scrutiny’ tab.


Sexual violence is a common feature of most modern armed conflicts, with devastating and life-changing impact on survivors and their communities.

The UK government has been at the forefront of efforts to galvanise support for an international campaign to reduce and prevent conflict-related sexual violence. In 2012, it launched the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI), championed by the then-Foreign Secretary, Lord Hague, and the Special Envoy to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Angelina Jolie. In 2014, as part of the initiative, the UK hosted the high-profile – and first ever – Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The aim of this ICAI review is to assess PSVI activities since the 2014 Global Summit, and to investigate how the UK government has followed up on its commitments and ambitions on preventing sexual violence, supporting survivors and promoting justice and accountability. The cross-departmental initiative is led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with contributions from the Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence.

This review assesses the relevance and effectiveness of the PSVI portfolio, focusing on global as well as country-specific programming, along with the initiative’s approach to learning. It explores what progress has been made on the commitments to reduce stigma for survivors, to increase justice and accountability, and to increase preventative efforts since the 2014 Global Summit.

A separate, smaller review of the government’s efforts to tackle sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) in peacekeeping, which is addressed through a different set of teams and policies, has also been published.

Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals relevant to this review are:

  • Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender equality



Published 12 June 2019

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Published 9 January 2020

Government response

Published 20 February 2020

Parliamentary scrutiny

IDC hearing 3 November 2020

ICAI follow-up

Published 23 June 2021

Further follow-up

Published 30 June 2022