Global perspective Human stories

Security Council demands end to conflict-related sexual violence

Security Council demands end to conflict-related sexual violence

Women marching against sexual violence in the DRC (file photo)
The Security Council today demanded that all parties to armed conflict take immediate action to protect civilians, including women and children, from all forms of sexual violence, and urged greater measures by States and the United Nations to combat this scourge.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council also requested that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appoint a Special Representative to provide coherent and strategic leadership to address sexual violence in armed conflict.

In addition, the 15-member body called on the UN chief to identify and take appropriate measures to deploy rapidly a team of experts to situations of particular concern with respect to sexual violence in armed conflict.

Mr. Ban told the meeting – chaired by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of the United States, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency for this month – that despite some progress in responding to the problem, the deliberate targeting of civilians continues unabated.

“The international community must do more to prevent violence, protect individuals, punish perpetrators and provide redress to victims,” he stated.

In a report issued on the issue in July, Mr. Ban called for States to strengthen prevention and protection measures against the systematic use of sexual violence as a weapon, a practice that is rife in armed conflicts in Africa, Asia and Europe.

He has also called on the Council to set up an independent commission of inquiry into sexual violence in the conflicts in Chad, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In the eastern DRC alone, at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence have been recorded since 1996.

Mr. Ban welcomed today’s resolution, saying it sends “an unequivocal message – a call to action,” and builds on resolution 1820 of 2008, which itself set an important precedent by recognizing the links between sexual violence and sustainable peace and security.

He reiterated, in a statement issued by his spokesperson after the meeting, his full commitment to ensuring that the provisions of both 1820 and 1888 – adopted today – are implemented in partnership with all relevant stakeholders, and called for the Council’s continued engagement to eradicate sexual violence.

Among the world body’s efforts to address the problem is an inter-agency network, UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, which unites 12 UN entities in the goal of ending sexual violence in armed conflict.

“Sexual violence – in armed conflict or, indeed, at any time – should have no place and find no haven in our world,” he stated. “We must all do our part to fight and end discrimination against women and girls.”

The resolution adopted today also urges States to undertake a number of measures, including to bring perpetrators of sexual violence in armed conflict to justice and to ensure that survivors have access to justice.

The Council also decided to include specific provisions for the protection of women and children from rape and other sexual violence in the mandates of UN peacekeeping operations, including, on a case-by-case basis, the identification of women’s protection advisers.

The Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) welcomed the resolution adopted today which she said complements resolution 1820 and sets in place mechanisms that should contribute to ending impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence.

“Resolution 1888 is an important next step, adding additional impetus to international efforts to stamp out sexual violence, ensuring that sexual violence is taken into account in United Nations-sponsored peace negotiations, and strengthening accountability for violations through the new reporting mechanism it establishes,” Ann M. Veneman said in a statement.

UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark added her voice to those welcoming the text, saying its adoption shows there is now significant international support and momentum behind finding solutions to the scourge of sexual violence during and in the aftermath of armed conflict.

“It is important to provide women and children traumatised by these crimes access to justice, and to end the impunity afforded to perpetrators,” she said. “It is also important to work with grassroots organizations, both in the prevention of and response to sexual violence.”