The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President U. Joy Ogwu (Nigeria):
The Security Council was briefed by Special Representative of the Secretary General for Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura on her visit to the Middle East.
Council members expressed concern about and condemned the use of sexual violence, in particular sexual enslavement and sexual violence related to or resulting from forced marriage, committed, including as a method or tactic of warfare, in Syria and Iraq.
They stressed that these acts are abhorrent and urged parties to armed conflict to take all feasible steps to protect civilians from sexual violence.
Council members recalled that rape and other forms of serious sexual violence in armed conflict are war crimes and constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. They urged the international community to remain united in the goal of holding those responsible for such crimes accountable.
They underscored the need for all relevant parties in the region, while implementing counter-terrorism, peacebuilding and conflict resolution activities, to take into account the importance of women's empowerment and the protection of women and girls at risk of sexual violence.
Council members expressed the need to bring conflicts in the region to an end in order to reduce the opportunity for sexual violence to be committed.
Members of the Security Council acknowledged the efforts of neighbouring countries in protecting refugees, including from sexual violence, and called on the international community to contribute to the United Nations humanitarian appeals for Syria and Iraq.