From Geneva to New York: Developments at the United Nations

The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva passed its annual violence against women resolution on Friday, June 14.  Canada chaired the process for negotiating the resolution, which does not provide for sexual and reproductive health services for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. 

Member states including the United States, Switzerland and Brazil, who represented a coalition of 19 countries, expressed dismay that the resolution did not reaffirm commitments made nearly 20 years ago at the Beijing World Conference on Women. Canadian civil society groups noted the resolution is a step backwards in international efforts to end violence against women. 

Next week, we look ahead to New York, where the Security Council will hold an open debate on sexual violence in conflict on June 24. United Kingdom Foreign Secretary William Hague will chair the debate. This follows the UK’s leadership at the G8 Foreign Ministers' meeting in early April, which lead to the Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Monday’s debate also follows the March release of the UN Secretary-Generals’ report on Sexual Violence in Conflict and an open debate on April 17 that addressed the contents of the report.  This included discussion of conditions in 22 countries of concern, the connection between the illicit natural resource trade and conflict-related sexual violence, the provision of support services for survivors, the importance of including women in peace processes, and the need to fight impunity and prosecute perpetrators.

Monday’s debate is expected to focus on holding perpetrators accountable for sexual violence in conflict and methods the United Nations can employ to support states in pursuing justice and fighting impunity. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura will speak, and it is believed that the Security Council will pass a new resolution specifically on sexual violence in conflict, drafted by the United States.



UN Human Rights Council adopts resolution on sexual violence from Amnesty International Canada 

We Can’t Compromise on Women’s Human Rights also from Amnesty International Canada

Security Council, in Day-Long Debate, Urged to Strengthen Measures to End Rape in War Zones from the UN News Centre

UK Presidency of Security Council – June 2013 Press Release from the Government of the United Kingdom

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