About Us – UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict

UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict (UN Action) unites the work of the UN system with the goal of ending sexual violence in conflict. The network is composed of 15 UN entities and its Chair is the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. The network represents a concerted effort by the UN to work as one by amplifying advocacy, improving coordination and accountability, and supporting country efforts to prevent conflict-related sexual violence and respond effectively to the needs of survivors. UN Action synergizes efforts from humanitarian, human rights, development, political and peacekeeping actors within the network to address conflict-related sexual violence.

The UN Action Secretariat is based in the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Current member entities include United Nations Department of Peacebuilding and Political Affairs (DPPA), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Department of Peace Operations (DPO), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), World Health Organization (WHO), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The core accomplishments of UN Action lie in its capacity to catalyze action through innovative advocacy and policy coordination of a wide range of entities towards addressing conflict-related sexual violence, while incorporating several different mandates.

Background

UN Action was formed in the aftermath of the 2006 International Symposium on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Beyond held in Brussels, based on the recognition that sexual violence impacts all aspects of survivors’ lives – their health, mental well-being, economic status, political participation, security etc . Recognizing that fragmented prevention and response efforts were an impediment to addressing conflict-related sexual violence, the Secretary-General’s Policy Committee endorsed UN Action in June 2007 as a critical joint UN system-wide initiative to guide advocacy, knowledge-building, resource mobilization, and joint programming around sexual violence in conflict. The network also sought to eliminate gaps and overlap in the response to CRSV that resulted from the absence of a central coordination system.

Goals

By serving as a coordination platform for the UN system’s response to conflict-related sexual violence, UN Action seeks to:

  • serve as consultative forum on CRSV and as a platform for coordinating advocacy and implementation of gap-filling joint CRSV-focused interventions;
  • develop context-appropriate, catalytic tools and resources to fill cross-sector gaps in knowledge, practices, advocacy and technical expertise for improved survivor-centered response;
  • strengthen technical expertise of institutional, operational, national and other key actors to prevent and address CRSV;
  • strengthen data collection and sharing in support of MARA and locally-relevant prevention and response strategies.

Conflict-related Sexual Violence Multi-Partner Trust Fund

In December 2008, UN Action established a Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) to mobilize funds to support a range of joint catalytic activities as well as the UN Action Secretariat. The MTPF aims to: (i) streamline joint programming, (ii) strengthen governance and financial management systems, and (iii) standardize reporting to donors. Its achievements can be reviewed in the Final Narrative and Consolidated Financial Report for 2019 here.
In January 2020 a successor fund was developed, the Conflict-related Sexual Violence MPTF (CRSV-MPTF). The CRSV-MPTF focuses on a survivor-centred prevention and response, the root causes of CRSV, greater justice and accountability, as well as joint impact including through strengthened coordination and information-sharing. It also contributes to SDGs 5 and 16, i.e. to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls (SDG 5) and to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels (SDG 16).

Guiding Principles:

  • Rape is not an inevitable consequence of conflict. It must be prevented.
  • Gender-based violence, including sexual violence, is a violation of fundamental human dignity and rights.
  • A survivor-centred, gender-sensitive approach is needed. While the majority of victims are women and girls, perpetrators also target men, boys, and people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity
  • To prevent CRSV, its root causes must be addressed. Consequently, attempts to end sexual violence must be based on interventions that promote gender equality by empowering women and girls and protecting and promoting their human rights.
  • The constructive involvement of men and boys is vital.
  • Survivors of sexual violence must guide advocacy and programming efforts to end sexual violence and secure peace.
  • Sexual violence in conflict is one of history’s great silences. We all have a duty to act.

Three Pillars of Activity:

  • Country Level Action: strategic and technical support to joint UN system efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict, including efforts to build capacity and train advisers on conflict-related sexual violence.
  • Advocacy: action to raise public awareness and generate political will to address conflict-related sexual violence.
  • Knowledge Building: creation of a knowledge hub on sexual violence in conflict and effective responses.

An example of a project funded by the MPTF:
Escaping from ISIL, a Yazidi sexual violence survivor rebuilds her life