14 November 2006

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

In message for international day, Secretary-General calls for creation


of environment ‘where violence against women is not tolerated’


Following is the message by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, observed on 25 November:

Violence against women causes untold misery, harms families across generations, and impoverishes communities.  It stops women from fulfilling their potential, restricts economic growth, and undermines development.  When it comes to violence against women, there are no civilized societies.

Last month, I issued an in-depth study which showed that half of humankind lives under this threat -- in every continent, country and culture, regardless of income, class, race or ethnicity.  This is so, even though we live in a world order where human rights have been recognized in law, and guaranteed in international instruments; even though we have learnt that the enjoyment of human rights is essential to the well-being of the individual, the community and the world; even though, at the 2005 World Summit, leaders pledged to redouble efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women.

Fighting this scourge requires us to change a mindset which is still too common and deep-seated.  To demonstrate, once and for all, that when it comes to violence against women, there are no grounds for tolerance and no tolerable excuses.

For years, women’s organizations and movements round the world have worked tirelessly to take violence against women out of the private domain and into the public sphere -- into the arena of State accountability.  Many States have enacted and implemented effective laws, and provided comprehensive and gender-sensitive services to victims.  And there has also been progress in creating international standards.

It is time to take these efforts to the next level.  We in the United Nations must play a stronger, better coordinated and more visible leadership role.  Member States must do more to implement the international legal and policy framework to which they have committed themselves.  And all of us must form strong and effective partnerships with civil society, which has such a crucial role to play on this issue at every level.

Together, we must work to create an environment where violence against women is not tolerated.  By mandating me to undertake the in-depth study, United Nations Member States have signalled that they are ready to do that.  Now, with the study and its recommendations in hand, we must summon the necessary political commitment and resources.  On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, let all of us -- men and women alike -- join forces in this mission.

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For information media • not an official record