The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Amina Mohammed, has stressed the need for the society to give a permanent voice to the survivors of sexual violence in conflict.
Mohammed stated this while paying tribute to the survivors of sexual violence at the closing reception of ‘Exhibition on Sexual Violence in Conflict’ at the UN headquarters in New York.
According to her, l every day, around the world, women and girls, boys and men suffer unimaginable atrocities. Even wars have rules.
“No one should be forced to endure rape, be subject to sexual slavery or trafficked with no regard to his or her rights and inherent humanity.
“But, far too long, the perpetrators have silenced their victims and enjoyed impunity. This should not and cannot stand,” she said.
She said the UN system is engaged in a comprehensive effort to engage Member States and non-State actors to end sexual violence in conflict, to accept that it is neither an acceptable or inevitable consequence of war, and to pursue justice and accountability.
She said there have been concrete results of this approach from sanctions committees, to mobile courts, to pushing for reparations against sexual violence in conflict.
“In Guinea, justice seemed to have eluded the victims of the mass rapes that took place in 2009 in the Stadium of Conakry, until a Guinean Panel of Judges, indicted the former President, Moussa Camara and 15 others.
“In Colombia, the FARC announced in December 2015 that special tribunals would exclude from amnesty those responsible for war crimes, including sexual violence.
“In Côte d’Ivoire, senior commanders from the National Army have committed to oppose conflict-related sexual violence and to ensure respect for international human rights and humanitarian law.
“And in the DR Congo, the President has appointed a Personal Representative at the Ministerial Level, again supported by us,” she said.
The UN deputy chief said there were more trials, and military officers, including a General, had been convicted for sexual violence crimes, adding slowly, we are seeing justice being done and impunity eroded.
She, however, said there is the need to see more in terms of reparation, reintegration and long-term support for survivors, saying “ultimately, we must prioritise prevention by addressing the root causes of conflict”.
According to her, only through prevention can we ensure the safety of women and men, boys and girls from sexual violence in conflict – and in peacetime.
“It is a question of fundamental human rights and dignity.
“As I look at the images of these survivors, I recall my recent visit as Environment Minister to Maiduguri, in the northeast of Nigeria.
“There, I saw first-hand the devastation that communities are facing because of Boko Haram. My visit also underscored the complexity of the challenges they are facing.
“Entrenched inequalities, weak governance, inadequate rule of law and environmental changes are a breeding ground for dissatisfaction, instability and conflict,” she said.