‘Searchlight of international scrutiny’ must focus on crimes of sexual violence in conflict – UN deputy chief

21 June 2016

Addressing an event commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson today stressed the importance of prevention and early response efforts, as well as the need to shift shame and stigma from victims to perpetrators.

Addressing an event commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson today stressed the importance of prevention and early response efforts, as well as the need to shift shame and stigma from victims to perpetrators.

In conflicts around the world, women and girls, men and boys, are subjected to horrendous acts of sexual violence. These acts, rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage, and sexual torture, constitute abhorrent violations of human rights and human dignity.

A critical aspect of prevention is to hold the perpetrators accountable for their acts, he said. “Accountability is a powerful deterrent, as well as a moral duty to those afflicted. No one should think that that they can come out of this without accountability,” he added.

Mr. Eliasson’s observations came at the official commemoration of the International Day. The programme included Zainab Bangura, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, UN Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, and Martín García Moritán, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN.

In 2015, Argentina, together with the Offices of the Special Representatives on Sexual Violence in Conflict and on Children and Armed Conflict, presented an initiative of a General Assembly resolution establishing 19 June as the International Day.

The aim of the Day is to raise awareness amongst the international community in order to prevent, combat and put an end to all forms of conflict-related sexual violence, especially against women, children, the poor, ethnic and religious minorities and other vulnerable groups, as well as assisting its victims and promoting accountability and fighting impunity of the perpetrators of those crimes.

Mr. Eliasson said sexual violence is unique in often stigmatizing the victim, rather than the perpetrator of the crime, underscoring the need to shift the shame and stigma from the victims to those who command, those who commit, or those who condone these crimes.

Social and economic reintegration support is imperative, and children born of rape need particular attention. Men and boys who have suffered sexual violence and live with life-long traumas need support as well.

“And our preventive action must pay attention to the vulnerability of refugees and displaced people, who may be trafficked for sexual exploitation,” he said.

Noting that 19 June, 2008, the international community decided to take action to elevate conflict-related sexual violence to the international peace and security agenda. This was done through the adoption of Security Council resolution 1820.

“We must meet the new challenges on the horizon and keep the searchlight of international scrutiny on these crimes, which have been ignored for far too long,” he said.

 

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