Secretary-General, Addressing Security Council, Spells Out Major Proposals for Action to Combat Use of Sexual Violence as Tactic in Armed Conflict

7 August 2009

Secretary-General, Addressing Security Council, Spells Out Major Proposals for Action to Combat Use of Sexual Violence as Tactic in Armed Conflict

7 August 2009
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, addressing Security Council, spells out major proposals


for action to combat use of sexual violence as tactic in armed conflict


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Security Council on women, peace and security, in New York, today, 7 August:

I commend your initiative to convene this Security Council debate on one of the important priorities of the United Nations:  “women, peace and security”.

Despite some progress over two decades, the deliberate targeting of civilians through acts of sexual violence continues on a widespread and systematic basis.  Parties to armed conflict continue to use sexual violence with efficient brutality.  Like a grenade or a gun, sexual violence is part of their arsenal to pursue military, political, social and economic aims. 

The perpetrators generally operate with impunity.  I have met victims of sexual violence.  I am haunted by their testimony.  And I will not relent in calling on States and non-State parties to prevent these terrible crimes. 

Beyond the enormous toll on victims, sexual violence in armed conflict hurts recovery and peacebuilding.  In Burundi, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the fighting may have ended but sexual violence persists on a very serious scale.  We are helping these countries to recover, but we must also do more to prevent others from suffering the same fate.

My report highlights where States and other parties must act.  I am also calling on you, the Security Council, to focus on concrete actions.  Allow me to quickly underscore four areas.

First, preventing and responding to sexual violence requires a multisectoral response, the pillars of which are interdependent.  The efforts of the United Nations system reach across our main work areas -- from the normative to operational.  I am committed to strengthening the United Nations system to ensure that we “deliver as one”.

Second, sexual violence should be addressed from planning to implementation of mandates.  Our actions must be focused and sustained over time to achieve results, as the causes and consequences of sexual violence are often intractable.  I am pleased that the issue will be included in the Terms of Reference for Technical Assessment Missions and the Integrated Mission Planning Process.  Peacekeeping missions and United Nations country teams will establish joint priorities in this regard through Integrated Strategic Frameworks. 

I am also working with my top advisers to ensure that the United Nations gives priority attention to preventing and responding to sexual violence.  Yesterday, in my meeting with the Force Commanders, I gave a clear and strong instruction that the military leaders should keep this issue as the top priority in working to maintain peace and security.  I call on Council members and other States, as well as civilian and military leaders, to join forces to address this grave problem.  I repeat:  no act of sexual exploitation and abuse by any United Nations personnel will be tolerated.

Third, I urge the General Assembly to conclude its deliberations on the creation of a United Nations institution to advance gender equality and women’s human rights.  I am also in discussions with United Nations system partners on appointing a new senior system-wide official to address sexual violence.  I am considering this in light of General Assembly discussions and existing mechanisms such as the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict.  I am also studying the additional costs this would entail.

Fourth, we must improve monitoring, investigation and documentation to address the many challenges that we confront in gathering information and reporting on sexual violence.  We also will continue to promote a greater understanding of resolution 1820 (2008) in all United Nations missions and duty stations, and adapt our approaches and systems -- including for monitoring and reporting -- to support its effective implementation.

The recommendations in my report are mutually reinforcing.  If carried out together, we can foster greater progress.  These recommendations are also designed to provide the Council with more consistent, evidence-based and timely information to help you in addressing this challenge.  Towards that end, I urge the Council to immediately authorize the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry, supported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.  It would be tasked to investigate and report on violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in ongoing conflict situations in Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan.

This independent commission of inquiry should recommend to the Council the most effective mechanisms to ensure accountability for these egregious crimes.  I also draw your attention to the brutal, predatory and deliberate targeting of civilians by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), whose activities have destabilized civilians in the Sudan, Central African Republic, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

I am prepared to submit an annual report on resolution 1820 (2008).  I want to help ensure that all parties respect their obligations under international law -– and are held accountable when they violate them.  Victims of sexual violence are among the world’s most vulnerable and traumatized people.  For the sake of these innocent women and men, their families and their societies, we must come together and act.  That will help victims and war-torn countries and set our world on a course for a better future.

* *** *

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