The following recommendations reflect an urgent need for the international community to support those struggling to protect survivors and to prevent women, girls, men and boys from falling victim to such heinous crimes. This requires, in particular, support to local non-governmental organizations and United Nations entities. A concerted effort to enhance prevention, early warning and swift responses will require dedicated human and financial resources commensurate with the scale of the challenge.

I urge the Security Council:

  • To include sexual violence as part of the designation criteria for sanctions, to ensure that dedicated expertise on gender and conflict-related sexual violence informs the work of sanctions committees and monitoring entities and to continue to invite my Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict to share information with sanctions committees, as appropriate; in the context of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, to ensure that any person or entity who sells or transfers funds to ISIL or other terrorist groups directly or indirectly in connection with sexual violence or exploitation would be eligible for listing;
  • To continue to address the nexus between trafficking in persons and conflict-related sexual violence, further to resolutions 2331 (2016) and 2388 (2017);
  • To support engagement with State and non-State parties to conflict for specific commitments on conflict-related sexual violence, in line with resolution 2106 (2013), and to monitor their compliance, including through the Informal Expert Group on Women and Peace and Security;
  • To employ all means at its disposal to influence State and non-State parties to conflict to comply with international law, including by referring to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court situations in which one or more crimes under the Rome Statute appear to have been committed; referrals should address situations in which sexual violence has been committed, commanded or condoned, through the failure to prevent or punish such acts;
  • To give due consideration to the early warning signs of sexual violence in its monitoring of conflict situations, especially in relation to periods of rising violent extremism, political instability, elections and mass population movements, and to take appropriate action, including condemning any incitement to sexual violence;
  • To use its periodic field visits to focus attention on concerns regarding sexual violence, soliciting the views of affected communities and survivors’ associations, and to consider visiting proposed sites of return of internally displaced persons and refugees to assess the safety conditions and availability of services;
  • To support the accelerated deployment of women’s protection advisers, in order to facilitate the implementation of resolutions on sexual violence in conflict, and to support the inclusion of those posts in regular budgets.

I encourage Member States, donors, regional and intergovernmental organizations:

  • To ensure that victims of sexual violence perpetrated by armed and/or terrorist groups are recognized as legitimate victims of conflict and/or terrorism, in order to benefit from reparations and redress, including through the revision of national legal and policy frameworks, whenever necessary;
  • To put into place constitutional, legislative and institutional arrangements to comprehensively address conflict-related sexual violence and prevent its recurrence, paying particular attention to ethnic and religious minority groups, women in rural or remote areas, displaced populations, persons with disabilities, male survivors, women and children associated with armed groups, women and children released from situations of captivity, forced marriage, sexual slavery and trafficking by armed groups and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons;
  • To integrate legal support with medical and psychosocial care and extend the reach of these services to rural areas;
  • To give due consideration to recognizing conflict-related sexual violence as a form of persecution that may serve as grounds for asylum or refugee status and to consider resettlement support for survivors, such as through “special quota projects”, which provide temporary protection through the evacuation and humanitarian admission of vulnerable women and children to third countries, and to ensure that refugee-receiving countries adopt measures to mitigate the risk of sexual violence, to make services available to survivors and to provide them with the option to document their cases for future accountability processes;
  • To give consideration to clarifying the legal status of undocumented refugee children, including children conceived as a result of rape, avoiding prejudicial practices in birth registration and securing the right of mothers to confer their nationality upon their children;
  • To support safe and sustainable returns of displaced and refugee communities to their places of origin or choice, by providing conditions of safety and dignity that include the provision of services, the recovery of property and possessions and accountability for perpetrators, including of crimes of sexual violence;
  • To support community mobilization campaigns to help to shift the stigma of sexual violence from the victims to the perpetrators, including by engaging with religious and traditional leaders, as well as local journalists and human rights defenders;
  • To increase the representation of women in national police services and to establish specialized units within the police;
  • To ensure that signed ceasefire and peace agreements contain provisions that, at a minimum, stipulate sexual violence as a prohibited act in the definition of ceasefire, to ensure that expertise on gender issues and conflict-related sexual violence is included in ceasefire monitoring and verification arrangements and teams and to call upon mediators to include such expertise as part of mediation support teams;
  • To ensure that efforts to document and investigate international crimes prioritize sexual violence and that those efforts are survivor-centred, well-coordinated, conducted by qualified individuals and guided by the principles of security, confidentiality, anonymity and informed consent;
  • To enhance cooperation in terms of information-sharing and documentation, assistance to victims of trafficking, the training of security forces, extradition and legal assistance and the exchange of good practices in combatting sexual violence;
  • To train peacekeeping personnel on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, on ways to address conflict-related sexual violence, and on identifying and responding to indicators of conflict-related trafficking in persons, as a mandatory component of pre-deployment training;
  • To ensure that the national forces listed in the annex to the present report, or those listed for grave violations against children, are not deployed to peacekeeping operations;
  • To address funding shortfalls for programming on combating sexual and gender-based violence and for sexual and reproductive health care in conflict-affected settings and to draw upon the expertise of the United Nations system in the areas of justice and rule of law, service delivery and coordination, including by supporting the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict and the United Nations Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict network, in particular, ensuring sustainable and regular funding for their work.