The United Nations Security Council held its annual open debate on Women, Peace and Security on April 17, focusing this year on sexual violence in conflict. UN Special Rapporteur on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura told members, "We have an opportunity like at no other time in history to break the back of this age-old evil."
Throughout the debate, members advocated support for survivors and affirmed their commitments to institutions such as the International Criminal Court and the new Arms Trade Treaty.
Attending the special session were UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Saran Keïta Diakité, who spoke on behalf of the non-governmental organizations working group. The Secretary-General spoke at the beginning of the proceedings, noting that sexual violence is not only a grievous crime, but also “an impediment to reconciliation and sustainable development.”
In the ensuing debate, member states such as the United States, Argentina, and Australia called for greater agency and participation by women in peace processes, while others – including South Korea, Norway, Japan, and the Netherlands – concentrated on the provision of multisectoral support services for survivors. Germany, Ireland, Rwanda, Guatemala, and South Korea were amongst the many delegations that took the opportunity to reaffirm their support for international cooperation and condemn the culture of impunity for sexual violence.
The debate centered on a report prepared by Bangura, who told the assembly,
“Sexual violence has been used through the ages precisely because it is such a cheap and devastating weapon, but more deadly than any bomb. We can and must reverse this reality, making it a massive liability to commit, command or condone sexual violence in conflict.”
The report included a list of entities “credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict.” This so-called “name-and-shame” list includes state and rebel groups in Syria, the Central African Republic, Mali, and 16 different groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a Campaign focus country.
Download the full report here: Report of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict (S/2013/149)
Security Council, in day-long debate, urged to strengthen measures to end rape in war zones, UN News Centre, 17 April 2013
UN Security Council lists Syrian army and militias as sex predators, along with African rebels, Washington Post, 17 April 2013