IWTC Women's GlobalNet #335
Activities and Initiatives of Women Worldwide

UN security council TO TABLE NEW RESOLUTION ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE

June 18, 2008

Mavic Cabrera Balleza

 

1.     NEW UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE

2.     ARRIA FORMULA MEETING ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN CONFLICT-AFFECTED COUNTRIES

3.     OPEN DEBATE/ MINISTERIAL MEETING ON THE NEW SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE

4.     NGO WORKING GROUP ON WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY RESPONSE TO THE RESOLUTION

5.     WOMEN’S NGOS FROM AROUND THE WORLD OFFER MIXED RESPONSES

 

1. NEW UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE

A new UN Security Council resolution on sexual violence is currently being discussed by NGOs, UN member states, and UN agencies. This new resolution, which is expected to be debated and voted on by the Security Council on June 19, 2008, would require the Council to analyze and address the occurrence of sexual violence in all conflict-affected situations on its agenda. The Security Council has been the subject of criticism – especially from women’s rights advocates – for failing to respond to the issue of sexual violence in a consistent and systematic manner. It was only recently that it issued strong statements on the appalling levels of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Cote d’Ivoire.

 

The Security Council is mandated by the UN Charter to address situations that threaten international peace and security, including violations of international law such as rape.  Resolutions adopted by the Security Council carry force of law. The Security Council is composed of China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States – the five permanent members; and Belgium, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, Indonesia, Italy, Libya, Panama, South Africa and Vietnam – the non-permanent members.

 

2. ARRIA FORMULA MEETING ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN CONFLICT-AFFECTED COUNTRIES

In the lead-up to the Security Council discussion on the resolution on sexual violence, the United Kingdom Mission to the UN hosted an Arria Formula meeting to bring to the Council’s attention the outcomes of the recent Wilton Park conference (May 27 – 29, 2008) on the role of military peacekeepers alongside other actors including NGOs, UN and government agencies, in addressing the sexual violence in conflict-affected countries.  An Arria Formula meeting is an informal event that allows for more interaction between the Security Council members, civil society, UN agencies and other sectors on international peace and security issues.

 

While panellists speaking at the June 11 Arria came from a cross-section of the peace and security community, they all emphasized the need for more coherent, coordinated and robust approach to ending sexual violence in conflict situations. They said that while peacekeepers already address the threat and effects of sexual violence, the response is often ad hoc.  The NGOs at the meeting underscored the need for more systematic quality and comprehensive data collection on sexual violence, the need to ensure accountability, and the need to ensure women’s participation in discussions on sexual violence as well as in designing and implementing actions to end it.

 

3. OPEN DEBATE/ MINISTERIAL MEETING ON THE NEW SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE

On June 19, 2008, the US mission - which holds the presidency of the Security Council this month - is hosting a Ministerial Meeting/open debate on the relevance of sexual violence in conflict to its work.  It is hoped that the outcome of the debate will result in the adoption of the resolution on sexual violence.

 

A draft of this resolution on sexual violence is being circulated by the US and following are some of the points it addresses:

-         The recognition that sexual violence, when used as a weapon of war, can significantly exacerbate armed conflict and, therefore, effective steps to prevent and respond to such violence would contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security;

-         The demand that all parties to armed conflict should immediately cease acts of sexual violence against civilians and take measures to protect civilians including women and girls;

-         The recognition that sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide and the need for the exclusion of sexual violence crimes from amnesty provisions in conflict resolution processes and that ending impunity for such acts is important;

-         The intention to consider targeted and graduated measures;

-         A request to the Secretary-General to develop and implement training programs for police, security, peacekeeping, and humanitarian personnel deployed by the United Nations to help them better prevent, recognize and respond to sexual violence;

-         A request to the Secretary-General to develop mechanisms to increase peacekeeping operations’ ability to protect civilians including women and girls from sexual violence, including in refugee and internally displaced persons camps, as well as in all UN-assisted disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes and in security sector reform efforts;

-         The call to all parties including concerned Member States, UN entities and financial institutions, to support the development and strengthening of the capacities of national institutions, in particular of judicial and health systems, and of local civil society networks in order to provide sustainable for assistance to victims of sexual violence; and

-         A request to the Secretary-General to submit a report to the council by 31 June 2009 on the implementation of this resolution, including an action plan for a mechanism to collect information on sexual violence in situations of armed conflict.

 

A number of high level government ministers are expected to be at this meeting.  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to chair the debate. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, Liberia Foreign Minister Olubanke King-Akerele and Major General Patrick Cammaert (former Force Commander of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC)) are expected to brief the Council.

 

4. NGO WORKING GROUP ON WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY RESPONSE TO THE RESOLUTION

The NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (NGOWG), a coalition of NGOs and women’s groups advocating for the full implementation of Resolution 1325, sent a letter to Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations, stressing the importance of highlighting women’s capacity as active agents of change in any new Security Council resolution on sexual and gender-based violence. The NGOWG also expressed that it is crucial to ensure that sexual violence not be seen as an isolated issue but as integral to the issue of women’s full and equal participation at all levels of decision-making on peace and security issues. The NGOWG added that any resolution adopted to better protect and promote women’s human rights in conflict-affected situations, should at a minimum:

-         Recognize that sexual and gender-based violence in conflict-affected situations is relevant to the maintenance of international peace and security and therefore the Security Council should ensure systematic monitoring and analysis of such violence and, where appropriate, take timely action;

-         Require that the Secretary-General systematically include comprehensive information on acts of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls in all of his reports on conflict-affected situations and to report to the Security Council on ways to improve the level and quality of such reporting;

-         Require the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on ways to improve the UN’s response, in particular at the highest levels, including at the Security Council, to stop gender-based violence in conflict-affected situations. Such a report should draw on the full capacity and expertise of all experts including the UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict and relevant non-governmental organizations and women’s groups at the local and global level. An independent expert could be appointed to lead this study; and

-         Require that women’s groups at the local level actively participate in the design and implementation of strategies and programmes to meet their security needs and concerns.

 

Additionally, members the NGO Working Group sent a letter to all permanent members of UN Member States and the General Assembly highlighting the above points and demanding an end to impunity for perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence.
Click here to access the NGO Working Group letter

 

5.  WOMEN’S NGOS FROM AROUND THE WORLD OFFER MIXED RESPONSES

Meanwhile, other NGOs assert that the new resolution should have clear benchmarks, commitments, directives, programming and resources that build on progress that has been made, particularly through the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, on Women, Peace and Security. Sanam Anderlini, one of the original members of the NGOWG, believes that the new resolution proposed by the US government does not strengthen 1325.  Anderlini is concerned that political posturing and talk about bringing depth to SCR 1325, would actually serve to only re-open negotiations on a resolution that has already been negotiated by member states including some who sit on the Council today. “1325 did not come easily, there was and still is much resistance to it. But it exists. It is international law, and those who claim to support it, should focus on implementation, not on new words and more rhetoric,” she added.

 

Overall, some NGOs are concerned that the new resolution on sexual violence does not sufficiently strengthen Resolution 1325 provisions and that it does not offer clear measures to end impunity for sexual violence. IWTC has received a number of comments and statements about the new resolution from women’s organizations around the world. Click here to read more 

 

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