Whether in Sierra Leone, Syria, Myanmar or Iraq, sexual violence is being used as a tactic in armed conflicts to an increasing extent. Germany has therefore made protection against sexual violence a priority of its membership of the UN Security Council. On 23 April, following lengthy negotiations, the Security Council adopted a resolution on sexual violence sponsored by Germany.
Holding the perpetrators to account
With this Resolution, the Security Council is demonstrating its determination to hold the perpetrators of sexual violence to account to a greater extent. Parties to conflicts around the world are called upon to put an end to sexual violence immediately and to prevent such acts in the future. The resolution strengthens the accountability of parties to conflicts. The focus here is on improving the mechanisms that can be used to assess whether parties to conflicts comply with their obligations to offer protection against sexual violence. If parties to conflicts violate their obligations, then it should be possible for sanctions to be imposed.
Putting victims and survivors centre-stage
The Resolution puts the survivors of sexual violence centre-stage for the first time. “We call on all member states to allow them to live their lives in dignity,” said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. This includes ensuring access to legal remedies at the national level as well as safeguarding the livelihoods of those affected. Moreover, survivors are to be given support in their efforts to come to terms with and overcome what they have experienced in order to be able to lead their lives in dignity.
Neglected groups of victims
The Resolution also focuses on previously neglected groups of victims of sexual violence, which are to be strengthened through preventive measures and support services. Not only girls and women can become victims of sexual violence, but also boys and men. Greater prominence will also be accorded to the rights and needs of mothers and their children born as a result of rape.
Strengthening civil society
States and civil society worked together closely to develop and adopt the Resolution. Civil society is to be strengthened in the future as well. The Resolution acknowledges the invaluable work done by women’s rights organisations, which are committed, particularly at the local level, to promoting gender equality and to strengthening the role of women in political and social processes.
The Women, Peace and Security agenda
“The adoption of Resolution 2467 is a milestone on the path towards putting an end to sexual violence in conflicts,” said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas following the debate in the Security Council. It represents an important step for the Women, Peace and Security agenda, which was established in 2000 with Security Council Resolution 1325 and is a key element of Germany’s Presidency of the Security Council. The agenda seeks to improve protection against sexual violence in conflicts and to strengthen the role of women in conflict prevention and management.
“The real work starts now,” said Nobel Peace laureate Nadia Murad, who was herself a victim of sexual violence and took part in the debate in the Security Council. “We must do everything in our power to ensure that the Resolution is implemented,” she added.