Landmark agreement between the African Union and the United Nations to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence

For immediate release
Date: 6 February 2014

(Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) A landmark framework of cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations on the prevention of and response to conflict-related sexual violence in Africa was signed Friday 31 January 2014, on the final day of the 22nd African Union Summit. The agreement will serve as the overarching framework for a comprehensive collaboration in key areas, such as combating impunity for perpetrators, capacity building and training to enhance the capacity of peacekeepers and security actors, as well as strengthening national policies, legislation and institutions working on conflict-related sexual violence. The agreement also emphasizes the importance of services for survivors, empowering women and girls, and countering the stigma of survivors.

The agreement was signed by United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura and Ambassador Smaïl Chergui, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union.

SRSG Bangura commended the deeper engagement of the African Union. She especially lauded the leadership and dedication of Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and praised the commitment and vision of Commissioner Chergui.

“All good forces must work together to combat the horrible scourge of sexual violence in war and conflict. With this agreement the African Union and the United Nations affirm our common commitment to put an end to history’s oldest and least condemned crime”.

SRSG Bangura also stressed the important role of governments in the efforts to address sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations.

“National ownership, leadership and responsibility are absolutely essential if we are to protect women and girls, but also men and boys, from these barbaric crimes. I am confident that this framework of cooperation will help us in this fight”.

She also welcomed the designation of Ms. Bineta Diop, who was present at the signing ceremony, as the African Union Commission Chairperson’s Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security.

“Bineta Diop has been a champion for women affected by conflict on the African continent, and at the forefront of efforts to empower women in Africa for many years through her work at Femmes Africa Solidarité. I look forward to working together with her and the African Union to move this agenda forward.”

Welcoming the signing of the Framework for Cooperation, Ambassador Smaïl Chergui stressed the commitment of the African Union Commission to address the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence.

“We are confident that this framework will provide the roadmap to step up all of our efforts in preventing and responding to sexual violence, provide relief and bring about justice for millions of victims of sexual violence not only in conflict but also in post-conflict situations and beyond”.