137 countries, over two thirds of all the members of the United Nations, have now endorsed the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.
These countries have promised not to enter into or support peace agreements that give amnesty for rape. Suspects can be arrested in any of these countries, all of whom have now recognised rape and serious sexual violence as grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, so that the principle of universal jurisdiction applies.
They will support new global efforts to give aid and justice for survivors.
Every UN peacekeeping mission will now automatically include the protection of civilians against sexual violence in conflict, for the first time.
All 137 countries have also agreed to support the development of the new International Protocol on the Investigation and Documentation of Sexual Violence in conflict proposed by the UK.
16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence
Millions of women, children and men have suffered sexual violence in conflicts of our lifetimes, in a climate of almost complete impunity, with only a handful of successful prosecutions ever taking place. This month, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and our posts around the world are adding their voice to the 16 Days of Activism campaign to highlight this issue.
The annual 16 Days of Activism campaign begins on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November) and ends on International Human Rights Day (10 December).
We will be marking the 16 days on this blog by looking at the work the UK Government and others are doing to build on the G8 Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, and the UN Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, and by highlighting practical action being taken to help bring justice to survivors.
You can follow our updates during the 16 days here, and @FCOHumanRights on Twitter. You can read more about the 16 Days of Gender Activism campaign here.
UN Day at the UK Mission to UN
On 24 October the world marked UN Day, the day the UN Charter entered into force in 1948. The UN is 68 years old.
As part of UN Day, UK Mission representatives posted videos to Instagram highlighting the UN’s work.
Click the links by the topics below to watch the videos:
On today’s World Food Day we are reminded that almost 870 million people worldwide are chronically undernourished.
As part of a project called the ‘7 Billion Others’, UN Regional Information Centre in Brussels, in partnership with the Good Planet Foundation, mark World Food Day with interviews of individuals whose lives have been affected by changes in environment and access to food.
Give it a watch.
119 and counting! Over half of all UN members have endorsed the UK-led Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said:
I am delighted that so many countries have supported this Declaration: a clear majority of the members of the United Nations. This is a milestone towards shattering impunity for those who commit horrific sexual crimes during times of war.
Next year the UK will host a major conference to increase international momentum around this issue. The conference will bring together governments with representatives from civil society, judiciaries and militaries from around the world.
The Declaration contains a set of practical and political commitments to end the use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war, which terrorises and destroys communities during conflict. The Declaration sends an important message to the victims of these crimes that the international community has not forgotten them, and to the perpetrators of rape that they will be held to account.
Global Support to End Sexual Violence in Conflict
Today British Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence Zainab Bangura will launch a new Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict at the annual UN General Assembly.
The General Assembly plenary meeting, which starts today and runs throughout the week, provides an opportunity for UN members to set out their priorities for the year ahead and for us is a critical time for raising international awareness of sexual violence in conflict. We will use this event and our own national statement to send a strong message that sexual violence is no longer an issue which is secondary to other conflict issues. In the past it has often been seen as too difficult or sensitive and this has all contributed to a sense that sexual violence is somehow a lesser issue.
Today, we want a significant number of countries to announce their commitment and determination to see an end to the use of sexual violence as a tactic of conflict and to announce their support for the Declaration. The UK has drawn up the Declaration in collaboration with a small group of Heads of State and Foreign Ministers who have shown a commitment to speaking out and taking action on these issues. We are working together to lobby countries around the world to endorse the Declaration.
The Declaration is ambitious and will provide a platform for future practical activity to support conflict and post-conflict countries to address these issues consistently and decisively.
We are also asking individuals to speak out. Last week we started a Thunderclap campaign to call on UN members to endorse the Declaration. We are delighted that our Thunderclap now has over 1300 supporters. Everyone who speaks out in support sends a message to governments, the international community and survivors of sexual violence that this is an issue which we can no longer be silent about. You can help by signing up to the Thunderclap, and by encouraging others to do so. Together we can tell the world that it is #TimeToAct.
Photo: credit UN/Rick Bajornas
Sexual violence is used in conflict as a way to humiliate and destroy communities. A culture of impunity means that millions of women, children and men who have survived sexual attacks in war rarely see any form of justice, and perpetrators are able to commit these horrific crimes without fear of any consequences.
In May 2012 the UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague and UN Special Envoy for Refugees Angelina Jolie launched the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative in London. On 24 September 2013 they will call on members of the United Nations to sign a new Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence, containing political and practical commitments to end these abhorrent crimes.
We need to create an irreversible global momentum to shift the stigma of shame from survivors to perpetrators. By adding your voice, calling for members of the United Nations to sign up to this Declaration you are sending a strong message to politicians around the world that now is the time to end the use of rape as a weapon of war.
Now is The #TimeToAct. Add your voice ›