(New York, 10 November 2015) The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, today commended senior officers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Sudan People’s Liberation Army (In Opposition), for signing explicit undertakings to prevent conflict-related sexual violence.

Fifty-four Commanders made the commitment in Pagak, South Sudan, on 31 October, including Lieutenant General John Buth Teny, one of the highest ranking SPLA-IO Commanders, as well as three Major Generals, six Brigadier Generals, 13 Colonels, 10 Lt. Colonels and 20 Majors. The undertakings, which are a central element of an action plan of SPLA-IO to combat sexual violence, focus on accountability, timely and rigorous investigations, cooperation with military justice authorities, and protection of victims and witnesses, judicial actors, humanitarians and service providers.

“These undertakings mean that each senior officer takes individual responsibility as well as command responsibility for his troops, and publicly declares that he will hold each soldier accountable for sexual violence crimes,” said Special Representative Bangura. “This is an encouraging step towards the protection of women, children and men of South Sudan from such crimes.”

The signing took place at the SPLA-IO base of operations in South Sudan, following a workshop related to prevention and response to conflict-related sexual violence organized by the Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, together with the Senior Women Protection Adviser from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The Commanders undertakings reinforce the commitment expressed by Dr. Riek Machar, Chairman of SPLA/SPLM (In Opposition), in a Communique on preventing conflict-related sexual violence in South Sudan, issued on 18 December 2014.

The engagement with SPLA/SPLM-IO is undertaken in the framework of Security Council resolution 2106 (2013) on sexual violence in conflict. The Special Representative is also engaging in a similar process with the Government of South Sudan, on the basis of a Joint Communique on conflict-related sexual violence between the Government and the United Nations, signed by President Salva Kiir on 11 October 2014.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Paulina Kubiak, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Communications Officer in New York, +1 9173673819 or kubiakp@un.org.