UN: 'Women’s empowerment key to end sexual violence in conflict'

New York, US (PANA) - As the great moral issue of our time, sexual violence in conflict is used to terrorise, displace and subjugate victims, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Zainab Bangura, told the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

She therefore urged the Security Council members to take action to deal with the growing threat.

"The history of war zone rape has been a history of denial. It is time to bring these crimes, and those who commit them, into the spotlight of international scrutiny," Ms. Bangura said as she presented the UN Secretary-General’s 2015 report on Sexual Violence in Conflict to the Council.

She stressed that, the time had come to send a clear message that the world will not tolerate the use of sexual violence as a tactic of war and terror.

Bangura added that the report should serve not only as an annual report of record, but as a global advocacy instrument and vehicle for refining common understanding of critical themes, to enhance coordination and build global consensus.

For the first time, (the report) articulated how sexual violence is integrally linked with the strategic objectives, ideology and finding of extremist groups, she said, noting that women’s empowerment and sexual violence prevention should be central to international response.

The UN official said the annual report shed light on a number of new themes, including a list of 45 parties, mostly armed groups, suspected of committing sexual violence as a tactic to terrorise.

She announced that she would head to the Middle East on Thursday to meet with survivors, refugees and government officials in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, saying that, "the visit is undertaken against the backdrop of a catastrophic new trend of the use of sexual violence as a 'tactic of terror' by extremist groups, not only in Iraq and Syria, but also in Somalia, Nigeria and Mali".

"The emergence of such armed groups spotlights political and operational challenges that lie ahead in terms of engaging with some of these parties, for concrete and time-bound commitments in line with Security Council resolutions," she noted.

Ms. Bangura also underscored the UN Secretary-General’s recommendation that the Al Qaeda/Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Sanctions Committee included sexual violence as part of its designation criteria.

"Ultimately, an effective counter-strategy to this emerging threat would include intensive community-level engagement, including with women and civil society, youth groups, traditional and faith-based leaders, and progress has already been made.

"Over the past two years, the international community has signed frameworks of cooperation with the African Union and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, and are now moving toward similar lines with the League of Arab States, and a number of regional organizations have also appointed envoys on women, peace and security," the UN official stressed.

At the country level, she said that the Governments of Angola, Guinea, the Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia and South Sudan had all pledged to address sexual violence, through the signing of Joint Communiques with the UN outlining priority areas of intervention.

"These commitments were undertaken at the highest levels of government, and are the basis for implementation plans that are now being developed by national authorities in concert with the United Nations and other partners," Ms. Bangura pointed out.

It is also notable, she said, that there were 187 convictions of soldiers and commanders in the DRC between July 2011 and December 2013, and as noted in the report, this year there were 135 convictions by military tribunals.

She added that UN expert teams were also supporting national progress in Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire and South Sudan, in order to address the menace.
-0- PANA AA/MA 15April2015

15 april 2015 20:17:54

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