On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the European Union and the United Nations join their voices to call on the international community to accelerate its efforts to eliminate the scourge of all forms of sexual violence, including as a strategy and tactic of war and terror.
Sexual violence in conflict constitutes a grave human rights violation with devastating physical, psychological and social consequences, which impede economic development, social cohesion and sustainable peace and security. While women and girls are disproportionately the first targets both in times of war and peace, men and boys are also affected.
Sexual violence is a crime that is preventable, not inevitable. This is why the United Nations and the European Union are committed to further strengthen their work in terms of prevention, protection and prosecution, as well as in terms of holistic support to survivors to help them rebuild their lives and livelihoods within their families and communities.
To this end, the United Nations Security Council has called for a survivor-centred approach to guide both the prevention and response to conflict-related sexual violence in order to empower the resilience of affected individuals and minimise the risk of social ostracism, stigma and reprisals. Ensuring access to comprehensive quality services, including medical care, sexual and reproductive health care, psychosocial support, legal advice and livelihood assistance for victims is therefore key.
Together, the EU and the UN have collaborated on concrete projects, such as an initiative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that supported the creation of Prosecution Support Cells to help military authorities to bring perpetrators of serious offences, including sexual violence, to justice. This project helped to identify and prosecute offenders from both the national security forces and armed groups who would otherwise have continued to operate with impunity.
Ultimately, our actions can only make a lasting difference if they are accompanied by a shift in social attitudes that can be achieved through raising awareness by amplifying victims' voices, and ensuring women’s participation in decision-making and peace processes. States, international and regional organisations, private sector and civil society all have a role to play in challenging harmful gender norms and preventing sexual violence.
Today, we commit to continue working together to end impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict and to guarantee access to justice, protection and services for survivors. Their voices, rights and needs must guide our response to foster more equitable and peaceful societies.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Spokesperson of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Brussels
Office of the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, New York
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