Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

Justice Matters When Dealing with Sexual Violence in Conflict: UN

April 18, 2022
Sexual Violence in Conflict

Women’s rights are human rights, and universal in times of war and peace, a senior UN official told the Security Council on Wednesday, urging ambassadors to ensure accountability for conflict-related sexual violence.

Pramila Patten, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative working to end rape as a weapon of war, was addressing a high-level debate on strengthening accountability as a means to deliver justice for survivors and prevent future violence.

The Council has adopted 10 resolutions on women, peace and security, five of which are related to the prevention and response to conflict-related sexual violence. Ms. Patten began by asking what those declarations mean right now for a woman in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Myanmar or Tigray in northern Ethiopia.

“Every new wave of warfare brings with it a rising tide of human tragedy, including new waves of war’s oldest, most silenced, and least-condemned crime,” she said.

Ms Patten described some of the horrific incidents of rape and other abuse included in her recent report, which she called “bold implications of impunity”.

The report documents the situation in 18 countries and records 3,293 cases verified by the United Nations last year, 800 more than in 2020, which represents a “significant increase.”

The majority of the targets, 97%, were women and girls, while 83 cases were men and boys, the majority in detention centers. Lesbian, gay, trans, queer, or intersex (LGBTQI) people were targeted in 12 cases.

Ms Patten emphasized that prosecution was essential and a form of resistance, as it could help transform a culture of impunity into a culture of detention.

“While impunity normalizes violence, justice strengthens global norms. It’s time to move from visibility to accountability and make sure today’s documents are transformed into tomorrow’s tests,” she declared.

As a way forward, their report calls for specific steps to strengthen resistance, for example through political and diplomatic commitments to combat sexual violence in ceasefires and peace agreements.

Other proposed measures include increased use of early warning signs of sexual violence, as well as threat analysis, reduction of small arms flow, gender-responsive justice, and security sector reform. Raising the voices of survivors as well as safety.