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Security Council Resolution on Sexual Violence: Ending Impunity and Affirming Women’s Empowerment

June 28, 2013

In the lead up to the UN Security Council Open Debate and resolution on sexual violence in conflict June 24th, WILPF reminded states that sexual violence in conflict is a failure to implement all elements of the full Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda.  Rather than provide Band Aid solutions, we urged them to address root causes of such violence in militarized inequality and take concrete steps to move from resolution to action.

Resolution Background

Resolution 2106 was adopted unanimously by the Security Council on Monday, June 24th. Intended to address impunity and operationalize guidance on the issue of sexual violence in conflict, this resolution did not bring any new concepts to the table.

Key areas addressed include justice, women’s empowerment, arms, women’s human rights, and civil society engagement. Weaknesses hinge on perceptions that a fourth resolution on sexual violence may begin to sound like cheap talk, and concern that a continued focus on this area be complementary to continued support for the full Women, Peace and Security agenda.

Justice

We welcome the resolution’s support for recourse to avenues of justice including International Criminal Court (ICC) referral, inclusion of sexual violence in ceasefire prohibitions, exclusion of sexual violence crimes from amnesty provisions, and zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel.

We remind global and local policymakers and activists that while efforts to end impunity are important, collecting data and ensuring retribution for violators must be done in ways that are survivor centered  and ensure women’s equal human rights and participation.

Empowering Women

Photo of the UN Security Council

UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

In the strongest Women, Peace and Security resolution language so far, Resolution 2106 affirms women’s political, social and economic empowerment, gender equality and the enlistment of men and boys as central to long-term efforts to prevent sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict situations. We welcome this agreed language, and reiterate the need to continue moving forward on the full WPS agenda.

Militarization and Arms

We support the resolution’s recognition of the gender provision of the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty which obligates states to take into account the risk that arms perpetuate gender based violence. We remind states that the full text declares that “states shall not be permitted to authorize [arms] transfer where there is an overriding risk” of gender based violence (GBV), and urge states to ratify and implement this important agreement.

Women’s Equal Human Rights

We affirm the resolution’s recognition that states bear primary responsibility to respect and ensure the human rights of all persons. We support calls for strengthened deployment and training of Gender Advisors and Women Protection Advisors. We also support requests to provide nondiscriminatory and comprehensive health services including sexual and reproductive health, multi-sectorial services, and livelihood support, taking account the needs of persons with disabilities. We urge action on making meaningful these human rights obligations to be made a priority.

Civil Society

We also welcome the resolution’s calls for recognizing and supporting the work of civil society networks, including in their efforts to provide services to survivors of sexual violence. However, we regret that this recognition is not stronger. We recommend that states strengthen recognition and support for civil society work which contributes to preventing sexual and other forms of violence including through women’s human rights awareness raising, capacity-building, and gender-sensitive early warning systems.

Moving Forward

As civil society, member state, and UN work continues to combat sexual violence and promote security for all people, WILPF welcomes efforts aimed at strengthening women’s equal human rights and participation and reducing the militarization and arms that exacerbate violence against women in so many forms.

WILPF sections all over the world will work to hold our governments accountable and ensure practical measures are taken to address impunity and empower women and women’s organizations. We look forward to working with our partners at every level to translate all of the Women, Peace and Security resolutions into concrete action.

Have you read the resolution? What are your thoughts?  Share your reactions in the comment field below.

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