The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2020/487) issued on 03 June 2020.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, events such as the upcoming twenty-fifth anniversaries of the Srebrenica massacre and the Dayton Peace Agreement, which aim to honour the memory of the victims, can risk triggering retraumatization and pain among survivors of conflict-related sexual violence who have struggled to achieve recognition as legitimate victims of the war, and still often lack social support systems. In addition, the climate of political polarization, in which the pain of survivors is sometimes manipulated to fuel collective grievances, as well as continuing economic hardship and social rejection, have fostered transgenerational trauma, which is particularly evident in cases of children born of wartime rape. In response, the authorities have taken steps to improve the quality and expand the availability of medical, psychosocial, legal and financial assistance for survivors. Furthermore, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Policy has expedited the implementation of the Special Category of Civilian Victims of War status, in order to encourage the registration of victims of wartime sexual violence who have not come forward to date. There have also been institutional efforts to foster a survivor-centred approach in service delivery and to uphold ethical best practice standards. The United Nations has forged strategic partnerships with faith-based organizations and grass-roots youth groups to promote transformative narratives around conflict-related sexual violence. This is part of a concerted effort to tackle harmful social norms related to shame and victim-blame, as well as the persistent threats faced by victims and witnesses who have testified in war crimes trials, as part of a broader public dialogue on the preservation of peace.

Recommendation

I urge governments of countries undergoing post-conflict transitional justice processes to ensure that survivors of wartime sexual violence have full access to national relief, recovery and reparations programmes on a basis of equality before the law, and that concrete measures are taken to end the vicious cycle of violence and impunity for these crimes. I further call upon these governments to ensure gender-responsive security sector reform, the provision of comprehensive services for survivors and children born of rape, and to prioritize efforts to alleviate stigma, as part of measures to repair the social fabric torn by conflict.

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