U.N. Security Council Adopts Resolution To Ramp Up Fight Against Sexual Violence

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday “called on the U.N. Security Council to make combating sexual violence a ‘top priority'” during the opening of a two-day meeting of the 15-member Council on women, peace and security, Xinhua/People’s Daily Online reports (12/17).

During the meeting Thursday,  the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution “call[ing] upon parties to armed conflict to make specific and time-bound commitments to combat sexual violence, prohibiting such crimes through clear orders down chains of command, codes of conduct and other means, while investigating alleged abuses and holding perpetrators accountable in a timely manner. It requested the Secretary-General to monitor the implementation of such commitments and regularly update the Council on their fulfillment,” according to a U.N. Security Council press release.

“[T]he Council also requested enhanced monitoring, analysis and reporting on all sexual violence in conflict, and better cooperation between all United Nations actors for a system-wide response to sexual violence, while anticipating the appointment of more women protection advisers to peacekeeping missions,” the U.N. Security Council release notes (12/16).

The resolution calls “for perpetrators to be publicly listed and punished with sanctions” and for “Ban to include detailed lists of those credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for rape and other forms of sexual violence in his regular reports to the Council on the issue,” U.N. News Centre writes (12/16).

“The council said it intends to use the list … ‘for more focused United Nations engagement with those parties,’ including imposing targeted sanctions,” the Associated Press writes in an article that examines the recent reports of sexual violence in conflict areas despite the U.N.’s “repeated condemnation” of such acts (12/16).

In the adopted resolution, the “Security Council [also] encouraged U.N. member states to deploy greater numbers of female military and police personnel to peacekeeping missions in order to facilitate training on sexual and gender-based violence,” Xinhua/People’s Daily Online reports in a separate article (12/17).

“Even as we take this step here, catastrophe is unfolding for communities caught in the chaos of conflicts,” Ban said of the adoption of the resolution during the meeting, according to U.N. News Centre. The news service notes the resolution “had been sponsored by 60 countries,” including the Democratic Republic of Congo, “where more than 300 civilians were raped between 30 July and 2 August” – a situation Ban spoke of to address the scope of trauma introduced into communities by such violence (12/16).

Margot Wallstrom, special representative of the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict, “welcomed the adoption of the resolution, saying the new system of monitoring and accountability should ‘shatter the vicious cycle of impunity for wartime sexual violence,'” according to the AP. “Today’s resolution will help ensure that mass rape is never again met with mass impunity,” she said. “Instead of serving as a cheap, silent and effective tactic of war, sexual violence will be a liability for armed groups. It will expose their superiors to increased international scrutiny, seal off the corridors of power and close all exits to those who commit, command or condone such acts.”

The article quotes Marianne Mollmann of Human Rights Watch on the news of the adopted resolution and notes how the addition of rape and sexual violence to the list of war crimes by the International Criminal Court is being used in an ongoing trial against Congo’s former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba (12/16).

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, Le Roy’s military affairs adviser Lieutenant-General Babacar Gaye, and ambassadors from 50 member states also spoke at the meeting, according to U.N. News Centre (12/16).

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