(New York, 31 December 2015) I wish to commend the Governments of Japan and the Republic of Korea on the landmark agreement reached to resolve the longstanding issue of comfort women.

More than 70 years later, survivors and their families continue to live in shame, and their deep psychological wounds remain unhealed. This is why it is crucial that the authorities have been able to find a way forward beyond their differences, that places the needs of the survivors at the center.

For the former comfort women, acknowledgment that crimes took place with an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time, is one critical aspect of healing. The timely implementation of projects for recovering their honor and dignity and provisions of the necessary psychosocial support, is another. Therefore, I urge the respective authorities to implement this agreement as quickly as possible, in its letter and spirit.

I believe that the adversity of this experience, but more importantly the common purpose and determination that now exists to move forward, places Japan and the Republic of Korea in a unique position to champion the agenda to eradicate conflict-related sexual violence worldwide. I urge both countries to take up the mantle of leadership.

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.