UN General Assembly – UK Foreign Secretary calls for action against sexual violence

3 October, 2012

Hosting a high level event, the UK Foreign Secretary delivered a powerful speech stressing the “urgent priority for the international community” to ensure the prevention and prosecution of sexual and gender based crimes in conflict.

Preventing sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations

Monday 12 – Wednesday 14 November 2012 (WP1199)

At the UN General Assembly, leaders in the international community on the prevention of sexual violence in conflict contributed to the meeting calling for stronger concrete action and decisive leadership on this important issue. The Executive Director of UN Women, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict formed the high level panel with the UK Foreign Secretary hosting the event. The close of the meeting brought comments from Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, who affirmed that “through concerted action at all levels we send a message to perpetrators that there is no hiding place.” She thanked the UK government and the UK Foreign Secretary on leading from the foreground and pledging one million pounds of funding to champion the cause at the UN General Assembly.

A second high level meeting, following on from the UN conference will convene here on the 12 November on ‘Preventing sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations’. The conference is being held to build momentum for this issue which will feature prominently throughout the UK’s G8 presidency from January 2013. The UK initiative to prevent sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations will seek to increase awareness, engender greater international commitment, coordination and impact through an international diplomatic campaign. The UK government will also seek to tackle sexual violence in conflict situations through a rapid deployment team of experts who will support national and international efforts.

The conference will address the UN Resolution 1820 (2008) on Women, Peace and Security, which identifies sexual violence in conflict as ‘a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate [and] instil fear’ and stresses the necessity of ending impunity. Participants will discuss survivor centred approaches to mitigate the impact of sexual violence on women, children and men in conflict. Delegates will look to identify concrete actions to tackle the culture of impunity around sexual violence and utilise legal frameworks to ensure that perpetrators are brought to account.

The UK Foreign Secretary William Hague will be providing the keynote address.

Prominent speakers include:

  • Zainab Hawa Bangura – Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, United Nations, New York
  • Margot Wallström – Former Special Representative on Sexual Violence, United Nations, New York
  • Serge Brammertz – Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, The Hague
  • Florence Iheme – Acting Director, Early Warning Directorate, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Abuja
  • Lauren Wolfe – Director, Women Under Siege, New York
  • Karen AbuZayd – Commissioner, United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Geneva
  • Andras Vamos-Goldman – Executive Director, Justice Rapid Response (JRR), Geneva
  • Will Storr – Journalist, BBC World, London

Further information

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