Press Statement: For Immediate Release

(New York, 05 August 2019)

I commend the recent decision of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union to dedicate an annual open session to addressing the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence on the continent. This new standing agenda item will provide an annual forum for all African Union Member States and partners to take stock of the progress achieved and challenges faced in preventing and punishing these grave crimes. By providing a strategic opportunity to amplify good practices and share lessons learnt, this annual meeting will accelerate action to combat conflict-related sexual violence as a threat to collective peace, security and development. Including this issue as a standing agenda item signals political will to convert cultures of silence and impunity into cultures of accountability. It further signals a commitment to work towards a holistic, survivor-centered response, including safe, accessible and high-quality services, and to address the underlying root causes of sexual violence, including structural gender-based inequality.

This decision was the outcome of my visit to Addis Ababa on 23 July to brief the African Union Peace and Security Council in an inaugural open session on ‘Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict in Africa’, organized with the support of long-standing partners of my mandate, Special Representative Hannah Tetteh, Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU), and the African Union Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security Bineta Diop. This engagement follows the adoption in 2014 of a UN-AU Framework of Cooperation Concerning the Prevention and Response to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Africa, as well as several joint AU-UN solidarity visits on women, peace, security and development, and the signing of Joint Communiqués with almost all AU Member States that fall within my remit.

I applaud the commitment of the African Union to keep this issue high on its agenda as a pressing peace and security challenge and call for sustained political and financial support to help affected countries accelerate implementation of relevant normative frameworks to address conflict-related sexual violence and bring all parties into compliance with international law, including non-State actors. It is critical to enhance information-sharing, coordination and judicial cooperation at the regional-level, as well as to ensure justice and security sector reform at the national level to make these institutions more accessible and responsive to victims, and to work with traditional, religious and community leaders at the local level to help shift the stigma and social norms that further harm the victims and shield the perpetrators.

For media inquiries, please contact: Ms. Géraldine Boezio
Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, New York
Tel: + 1 917 367-3306 Email: geraldine.boezio@un.org
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