Security Council Adopts Text Mandating Peacekeeping Missions to Protect Women, Girls from Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict

30 September 2009
SC/9753

Security Council Adopts Text Mandating Peacekeeping Missions to Protect Women, Girls from Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict

30 September 2009
Security Council
SC/9753
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6195th Meeting (AM)

Security Council Adopts Text Mandating Peacekeeping Missions to Protect Women,

Girls from Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict

 

The Security Council decided this morning to specifically mandate peacekeeping missions to protect women and children from rampant sexual violence during armed conflict, as it requested the Secretary-General to appoint a special representative to coordinate a range of mechanisms to fight the crime.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of the United States, which holds the September Presidency of the 15-member body, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, national ministers and other representatives of Council members praised the unanimous adoption of resolution 1888 (2009) as a substantial step forward on many fronts.

Among other measures, the resolution called on the Secretary-General to rapidly deploy a team of experts to situations of particular concern in terms of sexual violence, to work with United Nations personnel on the ground and national Governments on strengthening the rule of law.

By other terms of the text, the Council affirmed that it would consider the prevalence of rape and other forms of sexual violence when imposing or renewing targeted sanctions in situations of armed conflict.

To enhance the effectiveness of measures for the protection of women and children by peacekeeping missions, the Council decided to identify women’s protection advisers among gender advisers and human rights protection units.  Other provisions of the text included the strengthening of monitoring and reporting on sexual violence, the retraining of peacekeepers, national forces and police, and calls to boost the participation of women in peacebuilding and other post-conflict processes.

“With its resolution today, the Security Council is sending an unequivocal message ‑‑ a call to action,” Secretary-General Ban said immediately following the text’s adoption.  He expressed regret that previous responses to sexual violence had not been able to stem the scourge.  “Parties to armed conflict continue to use sexual violence with efficient brutality.  The perpetrators generally operate with impunity,” he added, pledging to continue to ensure effective follow-up by the United Nations system.

Speaking in her national capacity, Secretary of State Clinton emphasized the toll that rape had taken on the women and communities she had visited in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other conflict areas.  “It shreds the fabric that weaves us together as human beings,” she added.

Thanking other Council members for their cooperation in adopting the resolution, she urged the body to pursue the fight against sexual crimes even beyond the measures called for in the resolution, saying that sexual violence in conflict areas could not be separated from the broader security issues on the Council’s agenda.

Reinforcing that view, Bedouma Alain Yoda, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, said sexual crimes created long-lasting enmity between peoples, making it hard to bring about peace.  Degrading the dignity of women reduced their crucial ability to contribute to peacemaking.

Alain Joyandet, Secretary of State for Cooperation and La Francophonie of France, alerted the Council to the tragedy presently occurring in Guinea, which, like much current violence, included widespread rape.  He hoped that the proposed position of Special Representative would be filled as quickly as possible by a person capable of being a “voice for the voiceless”.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Mexico, United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Austria, Japan, Russian Federation, Viet Nam, Turkey, Libya, Croatia, Uganda and China.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 11:25 a.m.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 1888 (2009) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Reaffirming its commitment to the continuing and full implementation of resolutions 1325 (2000), 1612 (2005), 1674 (2006), 1820 (2008) and 1882 (2009) and all relevant statements of its President,

Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General of 16 July 2009 (S/2009/362), but remaining deeply concerned over the lack of progress on the issue of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict in particular against women and children, notably against girls, and noting as documented in the Secretary-General’s report that sexual violence occurs in armed conflicts throughout the world,

Reiterating deep concern that, despite its repeated condemnation of violence against women and children including all forms of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict, and despite its calls addressed to all parties to armed conflict for the cessation of such acts with immediate effect, such acts continue to occur, and in some situations have become systematic or widespread,

Recalling the commitments of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (A/52/231) as well as those contained in the outcome document of the twenty-third Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-First Century” (A/S‑23/10/Rev.1), in particular those concerning women and armed conflict,

Reaffirming the obligations of States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Optional Protocol thereto, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocols thereto, and urging states that have not yet done so to consider ratifying or acceding to them,

Recalling that international humanitarian law affords general protection to women and children as part of the civilian population during armed conflicts and special protection due to the fact that they can be placed particularly at risk,

Recalling the responsibilities of States to end impunity and to prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other egregious crimes perpetrated against civilians, and in this regard, noting with concern that only limited numbers of perpetrators of sexual violence have been brought to justice, while recognizing that in conflict and in post conflict situations national justice systems may be significantly weakened,

Reaffirming that ending impunity is essential if a society in conflict or recovering from conflict is to come to terms with past abuses committed against civilians affected by armed conflict and to prevent future such abuses, drawing attention to the full range of justice and reconciliation mechanisms to be considered, including national, international and “mixed” criminal courts and tribunals and truth and reconciliation commissions, and noting that such mechanisms can promote not only individual responsibility for serious crimes, but also peace, truth, reconciliation and the rights of the victims,

Recalling the inclusion of a range of sexual violence offences in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the statutes of the ad hoc international criminal tribunals,

Stressing the necessity for all States and non-State parties to conflicts to comply fully with their obligations under applicable international law, including the prohibition on all forms of sexual violence,

Recognizing the need for civilian and military leaders, consistent with the principle of command responsibility, to demonstrate commitment and political will to prevent sexual violence and to combat impunity and enforce accountability, and that inaction can send a message that the incidence of sexual violence in conflicts is tolerated,

Emphasizing the importance of addressing sexual violence issues from the outset of peace processes and mediation efforts, in order to protect populations at risk and promote full stability, in particular in the areas of pre-ceasefire humanitarian access and human rights agreements, ceasefires and ceasefire monitoring, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), security sector reform (SSR) arrangements, justice and reparations, post-conflict recovery and development,

Noting with concern the underrepresentation of women in formal peace processes, the lack of mediators and ceasefire monitors with proper training in dealing with sexual violence, and the lack of women as Chief or Lead peace mediators in United Nations-sponsored peace talks,

Recognizing that the promotion and empowerment of women and that support for women’s organizations and networks are essential in the consolidation of peace to promote the equal and full participation of women and encouraging Member States, donors, and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, to provide support in this respect,

Welcoming the inclusion of women in peacekeeping missions in civil, military and police functions, and recognizing that women and children affected by armed conflict may feel more secure working with and reporting abuse to women in peacekeeping missions, and that the presence of women peacekeepers may encourage local women to participate in the national armed and security forces, thereby helping to build a security sector that is accessible and responsive to all, especially women,

Welcoming the efforts of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to develop gender guidelines for military personnel in peacekeeping operations to facilitate the implementation of resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008), and operational guidance to assist civilian, military and police components of peacekeeping missions to effectively implement resolution 1820 (2008),

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 16 July 2009 (S/2009/362) and stressing that the present resolution does not seek to make any legal determination as to whether situations that are referred to in the Secretary-General’s report are or are not armed conflicts within the context of the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols thereto, nor does it prejudge the legal status of the non-State parties involved in these situations,

Recalling the Council’s decision in resolution 1882 of 4 August 2009 (S/RES/1882) to expand the Annexed list in the Secretary General’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict of parties in situations of armed conflict engaged in the recruitment or use of children in violation of international law to also include those parties to armed conflict that engage, in contravention of applicable international law, in patterns of killing and maiming of children and/or rape and other sexual violence against children, in situations of armed conflict,

Noting the role currently assigned to the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues to monitor implementation of resolution 1325 and to promote gender mainstreaming within the United Nations system, women’s empowerment and gender equality, and expressing the importance of effective coordination within the United Nations system in these areas,

Recognizing that States bear the primary responsibility to respect and ensure the human rights of their citizens, as well as all individuals within their territory as provided for by relevant international law,

Reaffirming that parties to armed conflict bear the primary responsibility to take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of affected civilians,

Reiterating its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and, in this connection, its commitment to continue to address the widespread impact of armed conflict on civilians, including with regard to sexual violence,

“1.   Reaffirms that sexual violence, when used or commissioned as a tactic of war in order to deliberately target civilians or as a part of a widespread or systematic attack against civilian populations, can significantly exacerbate situations of armed conflict and may impede the restoration of international peace and security; affirms in this regard that effective steps to prevent and respond to such acts of sexual violence can significantly contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security; and expresses its readiness, when considering situations on the agenda of the Council, to take, where necessary, appropriate steps to address widespread or systematic sexual violence in situations of armed conflict;

“2.   Reiterates its demand for the complete cessation by all parties to armed conflict of all acts of sexual violence with immediate effect;

“3.   Demands that all parties to armed conflict immediately take appropriate measures to protect civilians, including women and children, from all forms of sexual violence, including measures such as, inter alia, enforcing appropriate military disciplinary measures and upholding the principle of command responsibility, training troops on the categorical prohibition of all forms of sexual violence against civilians, debunking myths that fuel sexual violence and vetting candidates for national armies and security forces to ensure the exclusion of those associated with serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including sexual violence;

“4.   Requests that the United Nations Secretary-General appoint a Special Representative to provide coherent and strategic leadership, to work effectively to strengthen existing United Nations coordination mechanisms, and to engage in advocacy efforts, inter alia with Governments, including military and judicial representatives, as well as with all parties to armed conflict and civil society, in order to address, at both headquarters and country level, sexual violence in armed conflict, while promoting cooperation and coordination of efforts among all relevant stakeholders, primarily through the inter-agency initiative “United Nations Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict”;

“5.   Encourages the entities comprising UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict, as well as other relevant parts of the United Nations system, to support the work of the aforementioned Special Representative of the Secretary-General and to continue and enhance cooperation and information sharing among all relevant stakeholders in order to reinforce coordination and avoid overlap at the headquarters and country levels and improve system-wide response;

“6.   Urges States to undertake comprehensive legal and judicial reforms, as appropriate, in conformity with international law, without delay and with a view to bringing perpetrators of sexual violence in conflicts to justice and to ensuring that survivors have access to justice, are treated with dignity throughout the justice process and are protected and receive redress for their suffering;

“7.   Urges all parties to a conflict to ensure that all reports of sexual violence committed by civilians or by military personnel are thoroughly investigated and the alleged perpetrators brought to justice, and that civilian superiors and military commanders, in accordance with international humanitarian law, use their authority and powers to prevent sexual violence, including by combating impunity;

“8.   Calls upon the Secretary-General to identify and take the appropriate measures to deploy rapidly a team of experts to situations of particular concern with respect to sexual violence in armed conflict, working through the United Nations presence on the ground and with the consent of the host Government, to assist national authorities to strengthen the rule of law, and recommends making

use of existing human resources within the United Nations system and voluntary contributions, drawing upon requisite expertise, as appropriate, in the rule of law, civilian and military judicial systems, mediation, criminal investigation, security sector reform, witness protection, fair trial standards, and public outreach; to, inter alia:

(a)   Work closely with national legal and judicial officials and other personnel in the relevant Governments’ civilian and military justice systems to address impunity, including by the strengthening of national capacity, and drawing attention to the full range of justice mechanisms to be considered;

(b)   Identify gaps in national response and encourage a holistic national approach to address sexual violence in armed conflict, including by enhancing criminal accountability, responsiveness to victims, and judicial capacity;

(c)   Make recommendations to coordinate domestic and international efforts and resources to reinforce the Government’s ability to address sexual violence in armed conflict;

(d)   Work with the United Nations Mission, Country Team, and the aforementioned Special Representative of the Secretary-General as appropriate towards the full implementation of the measures called for by resolution 1820 (2008);

“9.   Encourages States, relevant United Nations entities and civil society, as appropriate, to provide assistance in close cooperation with national authorities to build national capacity in the judicial and law enforcement systems in situations of particular concern with respect to sexual violence in armed conflict;

“10.  Reiterates its intention, when adopting or renewing targeted sanctions in situations of armed conflict, to consider including, where appropriate, designation criteria pertaining to acts of rape and other forms of sexual violence; and calls upon all peacekeeping and other relevant United Nations missions and United Nations bodies, in particular the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, to share with relevant United Nations Security Council sanctions committees, including through relevant United Nations Security Council Sanction Committees’ monitoring groups and groups of experts, all pertinent information about sexual violence;

“11.  Expresses its intention to ensure that resolutions to establish or renew peacekeeping mandates contain provisions, as appropriate, on the prevention of, and response to, sexual violence, with corresponding reporting requirements to the Council;

“12.  Decides to include specific provisions, as appropriate, for the protection of women and children from rape and other sexual violence in the mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations, including, on a case-by-case basis, the identification of women’s protection advisers (WPAs) among gender advisers and human rights protection units, and requests the Secretary-General to ensure that the need for, and the number and roles of WPAs are systematically assessed during the preparation of each United Nations peacekeeping operation;

“13.  Encourages States, with the support of the international community, to increase access to health care, psychosocial support, legal assistance and socio economic reintegration services for victims of sexual violence, in particular in rural areas;

“14.  Expresses its intention to make better usage of periodical field visits to conflict areas, through the organization of interactive meetings with the local women and women’s organizations in the field about the concerns and needs of women in areas of armed conflict;

“15.  Encourages leaders at the national and local level, including traditional leaders where they exist and religious leaders, to play a more active role in sensitizing communities on sexual violence to avoid marginalization and stigmatization of victims, to assist with their social reintegration, and to combat a culture of impunity for these crimes;

“16.  Urges the Secretary-General, Member States and the heads of regional organizations to take measures to increase the representation of women in mediation processes and decision-making processes with regard to conflict resolution and peacebuilding;

“17.  Urges that issues of sexual violence be included in all United Nations-sponsored peace negotiation agendas, and also urges inclusion of sexual violence issues from the outset of peace processes in such situations, in particular in the areas of pre-ceasefires, humanitarian access and human rights agreements, ceasefires and ceasefire monitoring, DDR and SSR arrangements, vetting of armed and security forces, justice, reparations, and recovery/development;

“18.  Reaffirms the role of the Peacebuilding Commission in promoting inclusive gender-based approaches to reducing instability in post-conflict situations, noting the important role of women in rebuilding society, and urges the Peacebuilding Commission to encourage all parties in the countries on its agenda to incorporate and implement measures to reduce sexual violence in post-conflict strategies;

“19.  Encourages Member States to deploy greater numbers of female military and police personnel to United Nations peacekeeping operations, and to provide all military and police personnel with adequate training to carry out their responsibilities;

“20.  Requests the Secretary-General to ensure that technical support is provided to troop and police contributing countries, in order to include guidance for military and police personnel on addressing sexual violence in predeployment and induction training;

“21.  Requests the Secretary-General to continue and strengthen efforts to implement the policy of zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations peacekeeping operations; and urges troop- and police-contributing countries to take appropriate preventative action, including predeployment and in-theatre awareness training, and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel;

“22.  Requests that the Secretary-General continue to direct all relevant United Nations entities to take specific measures to ensure systematic mainstreaming of gender issues within their respective institutions, including by ensuring allocation of adequate financial and human resources within all relevant offices and departments and on the ground, as well as to strengthen, within their respective mandates, their cooperation and coordination when addressing the issue of sexual violence in armed conflict;

“23.  Urges relevant Special Representatives and the Emergency Relief Coordinator of the Secretary-General, with strategic and technical support from the UN Action network, to work with Member States to develop joint Government-United Nations Comprehensive Strategies to Combat Sexual Violence, in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, and to regularly provide updates on this in their standard reporting to Headquarters;

“24.  Requests that the Secretary-General ensure more systematic reporting on incidents of trends, emerging patterns of attack, and early warning indicators of the use of sexual violence in armed conflict in all relevant reports to the Council, and encourages the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, and the Chairperson(s) of UN Action to provide, in coordination with the aforementioned Special Representative, additional briefings and documentation on sexual violence in armed conflict to the Council;

“25.  Requests the Secretary-General to include, where appropriate, in his regular reports on individual peacekeeping operations, information on steps taken to implement measures to protect civilians, particularly women and children, against sexual violence;

“26.  Requests the Secretary-General, taking into account the proposals contained in his report as well as any other relevant elements, to devise urgently and preferably within three months, specific proposals on ways to ensure monitoring and reporting in a more effective and efficient way within the existing United Nations system on the protection of women and children from rape and other sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict situations, utilizing expertise from the United Nations system and the contributions of national Governments, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations in their advisory capacity and various civil society actors, in order to provide timely, objective, accurate and reliable information on gaps in United Nations entities response, for consideration in taking appropriate action;

“27.  Requests that the Secretary-General continue to submit annual reports to the Council on the implementation of resolution 1820 (2008) and to submit his next report by September of 2010 on the implementation of this resolution and resolution 1820 (2008) to include, inter alia:

(a)   a detailed coordination and strategy plan on the timely and ethical collection of information;

(b)   updates on efforts by United Nations Mission focal points on sexual violence to work closely with the Resident Coordination/Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC), the United Nations Country Team, and, where appropriate, the aforementioned Special Representative and/or the Team of Experts, to address sexual violence;

(c)   information regarding parties to armed conflict that are credibly suspected of committing patterns of rape or other forms of sexual violence, in situations that are on the Council’s agenda;

“28.  Decides to review, taking into account the process established by General Assembly resolution 63/311 regarding a United Nations composite gender entity, the mandates of the Special Representative requested in operative paragraph 4 and the Team of Experts in operative paragraph 8 within two years, and as appropriate thereafter;

“29.  Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

Background

The Security Council met this morning to consider the question of women and peace and security, and to take action on a related draft resolution (document S/2009/489).

Having last discussed the issue on 7 August (see Press Release SC/9726), the Council also had before it the Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council resolution 1820 (2008) on sexual violence against civilians during armed conflict (document S/2009/362), which analyses the scope of the problem, proposes strategies to protect women and girls from sexual violence and sets out benchmarks for measuring progress.  It also details the Secretary-General’s plans to collect timely, accurate data, including information on action taken by parties to implement their obligations under resolution 1820 (2008).

The report calls for the establishment of a commission of inquiry, supported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to investigate and report on violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, with a dedicated focus on sexual violence in ongoing conflict situations in Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan.  It also recommends that the Council consider establishing similar commissions in other conflicts where sexual violence occurs.

According to the report, the Secretary-General states his readiness to submit an annual report on the implementation of resolution 1820 (2008) as he considers the appointment of a senior official to work across the United Nations system with responsibility for the prevention of, and response to, sexual violence.  The Council is urged to ensure that relevant resolutions adopted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter contain provisions on preventing and responding to sexual violence, as well as mandates for peacekeeping operations to undertake more detailed documentation.  Sanctions committees should also be mandated to collect the names of people and parties who perpetrate sexual violence.

Action

At the outset of the meeting, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1888 (2009), “Women and peace and security”.

Statements

Council President HILLARY CLINTON, Secretary of State of the United States, speaking in her national capacity, said:  “We are here to address an issue that has received too little attention, not only in the Council but also by all Governments around the world.”  That issue went to the core of protecting the safety of citizens in all countries.  It also went to the responsibility under the United Nations Charter to protect the lives of all, including women.  That responsibility was particularly acute in circumstances where peace was challenged.

Noting that women and children were often the victims in wars for which they bore no responsibility, she said the resolution just adopted was a step towards protecting women in conflict zones.  It built on resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008).  Violence against women and girls during conflict had not diminished, in fact, in some cases it had escalated.  The use of rape as a tactic of war had been used in Bosnia, Burma, Sri Lanka and elsewhere and the perpetrators were not being punished.  That impunity encouraged further attacks.  In Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, which she had visited, and where thousands of cases of rape were being reported, she had met the victims.  The toll on them, their family and society could not be quantified.  “It shreds the fabric that weaves us together as human beings.”  It also undermined economic progress.

The failure to respond to the problem eroded the collective effectiveness of the Organization, she said.  The time for action was now.  The international community had made progress and numerous peacekeeping mandates included measures to respond to sexual violence.  She had met with United Nations troops in Liberia who provided an excellent example of what was possible in preventing violence against women and girls.  The Mission there also included an all-women police unit.  Those steps alone were not sufficient, however.

The resolution included a call on the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Representative on the issue, who should engage on a high level with military and civilian leaders.  It also called on the Secretary-General to appoint a team of experts.  Local police must receive better training and survivors must be ensured they would get protection and assistance.  Ending conflicts was the most certain path to ending sexual violence during conflict.

Beyond the measures mentioned in the resolution, the Council should take additional steps, she said.  Protecting women and children should be a priority for all troops wearing the Blue Helmet.  The troops on those peacekeeping missions must develop the expertise to respond to violence against women and children.  It was often women that led the call for peace.  “As they seek peace, so must we,” she said.  She urged Member States to ensure that assistance programmes included measures to protect women and children.  Sexual violence in conflict could not be separated from the broader security issues in the Council.  It must be made socially unacceptable, and it should be recognized that it was not cultural, but criminal.  She hoped the work today would hasten the time when women around the world would feel comfortable in walking the streets and working outside their home without fear.  “That is our dream for a better future, for them and for us,” she said.

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that “with its resolution today, the Security Council is sending an unequivocal message ‑‑ a call to action”.  He expressed regret that previous progress in responding to sexual violence had not been able to stem that scourge.  “Parties to armed conflict continue to use sexual violence with efficient brutality,” he said.  “The perpetrators generally operate with impunity.”

He pledged to continue to ensure effective follow-up by the United Nations system, saying that the new gender entity recently agreed upon by the General Assembly should strengthen the work for women’s empowerment and noting that he had asked the Deputy-Secretary-General to lead efforts to put that entity in place.  He also pledged to do everything in his power to advance gender equality among United Nations staff, including in his senior appointments.  “Women’s empowerment must be at the heart of our global work for peace and development,” he concluded.

BEDOUMA ALAIN YODA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, said the scourge of sexual violence affected the dignity of women and reduced their ability to contribute to peacemaking.  In Africa, in particular, the practice had become widespread and could no longer be tolerated, since it created enmity between peoples, making it hard to bring about peace.  Burkina Faso supported wholeheartedly the substantial, well-rounded text adopted today.

ALAIN JOYANDET, Secretary of State for Cooperation and La Francophonie of France, alerted the Council to the tragedy now occurring in Guinea, which included much sexual violence.  The resolution was a major step forward in the fight against the scourge, which was a priority for France.  Hopefully the post of Special Representative, mentioned in the resolution, would be filled as quickly as possible by a person capable of being a voice for the powerless.

It was also to be hoped that other mechanisms, particularly those that aimed for greater cohesion and provided expertise to national Governments and peacekeeping missions, would also be implemented effectively, he said.  Complementary mechanisms created for the protection of children and armed conflict and the fight against impunity were also important.  The Council should consider sexual violence among the grounds for sanctions, he said, adding that programmes to assist victims were crucial, and that victims themselves should be able to participate in their creation.

CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico) said that, by its unanimous adopting of the text, the Council had reiterated its commitment to the protection of women in armed conflict, and shown that the international community was resolved to ensure that women and children no longer remained the principal victims of conflict.  Council members had seen themselves the gravity of sexual violence in armed conflict during their visit to Africa, in particular the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

All parties to a conflict had an obligation to respect and enforce international humanitarian law, he said, noting that the appointment of a Special Representative would make it possible to improve the response of the United Nations to sexual violence in armed conflict.  That new mandate should work in a coordinated manner throughout the system.  There was a broad relationship between the objectives of resolutions 1820 (2008) and 1888 (2009) and those concerning children and armed conflict.

The Council must pay close attention to ongoing negotiations concerning the establishment of a gender entity within the United Nations, he emphasized.  While more could be done to prevent sexual violence in armed conflict, the eradication of the practice could only be achieved if national State capacity could be improved.  The identification within the United Nations of a multidisciplinary team of experts who could be deployed to work in the field on strengthening the rule of law, fighting impunity and protecting victims would be helpful in that regard.

JOHN SAWERS (United Kingdom) said he had been struck by the words of the Foreign Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the recent general debate, who had said that sexual violence against women and girls in the east of his country constituted the most shameful and serious crimes experienced by humanity in the twenty-first century.  Sexual violence was a crime for which individuals could and must be held responsible, whatever their seniority.  The perpetrators intended to destroy local communities.

Welcoming the resolution, which strengthened commitment to end impunity and provided new leadership to combat sexual violence, he said it also created steps to name and shame parties to armed conflict that perpetrated sexual violence.  In addition, it called on the Organization to boost its support for national efforts to strengthen the rule of law by deploying teams of experts in situations where conflict-related sexual violence was occurring with apparent impunity.

He said the Council had come a long way since adopting resolution 1325 (2000) nine years ago, but the problem persisted, not only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but in conflicts across the globe.  Events in Guinea were a cruel reminder of that.  The message of today’s meeting should be that women could never be truly empowered while they remained threatened by sexual violence, and that peace could not take root when the female half of the community lived in fear and trepidation.  “The Council must live up to its responsibilities and never again relegate the question of systemic sexual violence to being a secondary issue,” he stressed.

JORGE URBINA (Costa Rica) said the proposed Special Representative would play a strategic role in giving visibility to the issue of sexual violence and help to organize concerted action to combat it.  It was necessary to harmonize that provisional mechanism with the new gender entity established by the General Assembly in resolution 63/311.  To avoid duplication, it was important to define the way in which the Special Representative would be integrated into the new entity and to preserve the coordination, roles and responsibilities of agencies on the ground, in particular with regard to protection.

The Special Representative should not carry out operational activities, but strengthen those already in place, he continued.  That official should head the United Nations Action Network to make maximum use of existing capacities and resources.  Hopefully the enthusiasm shown for the establishment of the post would be translated into tangible contributions to equipping it with the necessary capacity so it lived up to the high expectations of victims.

In relation to the team of experts, it would be timely and appropriate to build upon successful initiatives, such as the United Nations Standing Police Capacity, he said.  It might also be beneficial to use strategic interventions and technical assistance to help States establish their own mechanisms in addressing sexual violence.  It would be useful to consider the possibility of complementing and expanding early rapid response capacities with technical assistance for strengthening the rule of law and security-sector reform.  While the mandate of the team of experts would include identifying gaps in national responses and promoting holistic approaches, there should be a greater focus on prevention, protection and assistance to victims, not only on the number of criminals locked up.

On behalf of the Human Security Network, of which Costa Rica was the current Chair, he welcomed the conclusion of the process that had led to the adoption of today’s resolution.  Citing the Network’s joint statement on 7 August, he said that, while commending the progress that the Council had made in its thematic discussions, and welcoming positive developments in that regard, its members reiterated that it was still necessary to work towards a more comprehensive and strategic approach in the six critical areas of prevention, protection, women’s participation, accountability, assistance to victims and data collection.

THOMAS MAYR-HARTING (Austria) praised the resolution, in particular its provision for a Special Representative, which could provide the strong leadership needed in that area.  While Austria looked forward to recommendations on increasing monitoring and preventing impunity, it was absolutely unacceptable that civilians continued to be subjected to daily violence in areas where peacekeeping missions had been deployed.  During its presidency of the Council in November, Austria would place a strong focus on the problem.

YUKIO TAKASU (Japan) said the resolution manifested the Council’s strong commitment to fighting sexual violence.  It would enhance a coordinated United Nations response and strengthen national responses by providing experts to national Governments.  In addition to protection, women and children must be provided with a full range of services, and must be empowered to live full lives through a human security approach.

VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation), welcoming the resolution’s adoption, said it complemented previous texts on women and peace and security.  While sexual violence was an appalling crime that required harsh punishment and condemnation, attention to other violations of women’s rights should not be weakened.  There should be a comprehensive approach that paid due attention to all aspects of violence.

He said sexual violence should not be considered separately from all other issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment, including their fully fledged participation in peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction.  Through joint efforts, the number of sexual violence incidents during conflict could not only be decreased, but progress could also be made towards ensuring gender equality, he said.

LE LUONG MINH (Viet Nam) said that, since being implemented more than a year ago, resolution 1820 (2008) had significantly improved awareness of sexualized violence within the United Nations and in conflict areas.  However, huge challenges remained in terms of implementing the resolution at the grass-roots level, which required concerted efforts by the international community to ensure a comprehensive approach to sexualized violence by incorporating it in the initial stages of the peace process.  The coordination role of the United Nations must, therefore, be strengthened, he said.

By voting in favour of the text, Viet Nam had expressed its firm commitment to ending sexualized violence everywhere, he said, stressing that the resolution should be implemented in close coordination with resolutions 1820 (2008) and 1325 (2000).  One of the most effective ways to empower women was to protect them since their participation in conflict transformation processes must be promoted to ensure their rights and needs were met.

Calling for measures to protect women and girls as part of a broader comprehensive strategic framework covering social, economic and development issues, he said United Nations bodies and donors must be encouraged to help Governments build gender-related capacity and programmes to help victims of sexual violence access justice, relief from ostracism and mental health care.  That must be supported by economic and social security measures.  As the next President of the Security Council, Viet Nam would convene an open debate on “Responding to the needs of women and girls in post-conflict situations for sustainable peace and security”.

ERTUĞRUL APAKAN (Turkey) said the resolution just adopted was a message to the world at large that violence against women and children in situations of armed conflict was not acceptable, and that such acts would never be tolerated.  Its most significant added value derived from its action-oriented nature.

He said that, with the establishment of a new mechanism and the decision to appoint a Special Representative, the Organization and the international community had demonstrated their commitment and political will effectively to prevent sexual violence against women, combat impunity and enforce accountability.  “That is an important, yet a most necessary and even a belated step.”

ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMED SHALGHAM (Libya) said the Council’s visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other African countries suffering from conflict, and its meetings with victims of sexual violence and torture had been shocking for all members concerned.  They had also met with young people from all regions of the world involved in assisting the victims.  That was a ray of hope, as they had shown a greater awareness and understanding of the need to protect life.

Pointing out that perpetrators of sexual violence irreversibly maimed survivors, he called for the adoption of legislation to ensure that those crimes did not go unpunished.  Yesterday’s scenes from Conakry, Guinea, where women had been raped, tortured and then killed, were truly horrific.  Any perpetrator of such crimes, whether in Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Palestine, must be brought to justice.

RANKO VILOVIĆ (Croatia), thanking the United States Council Presidency for its continuing leadership on the issue of sexual violence in armed conflict, said his country had always been a strong supporter of resolution 1820 (2008) from its inception to adoption.  “It is in the same vein that we now give equal support to this new resolution that we have just adopted.”

He said that, with resolution 1888 (2009), the Security Council recognized many important elements in the fight against sexual violence in armed conflict, and the need for civilian and military leaders to demonstrate the political will to combat impunity and use their authority to prevent sexual violence.  In addition, the resolution demanded that all parties protect civilians from sexual violence and urged them to investigate all reports of the practice.  The Council also reaffirmed its intention to consider sexual violence among the criteria for imposing or renewing sanctions.

He went on to say that the resolution’s request that the Secretary-General appoint a Special Representative to address the issue of sexual violence in armed conflict and rapidly deploy experts to situations of particular concern deserved special praise.  The Council’s adoption of the text sent a clear signal to those who perpetrated horrific crimes against women and girls in armed conflict that sexual violence would not be tolerated.  “They will be held accountable,” he added.

RUHAKANA RUGUNDA (Uganda) welcomed the resolution’s adoption, saying that while sexual violence particularly affected Africa, it was a global problem and culprits must be held accountable for their despicable actions wherever they were.  The magnitude of the problem also showed that peace and stability, in addition to criminal justice systems, must be restored in countries where the practice occurred.

ZHANG YESUI (China) appealed to all parties to conflict to adhere to international human rights law, and called on all countries to prosecute those who committed sexual crimes during conflict.  While Governments bore the primary responsibility to prevent such crimes, conflict-stricken countries often needed assistance to build capacity in that area.  However, such assistance should be rendered with full respect for the United Nations Charter.  Women’s participation, and concern for their rights, should be central to peace processes, and civil society groups were particularly important in that regard.  China was willing to work with the rest of the international community on the issue.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.