For women’s full participation in conflict resolution and peacebuilding

An initiative from Kvinna till Kvinna

UN Secretary General’s 2013 report on sexual violence in war and conflict

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United Nations Security Council Meeting Room. Photo: Zack Lee

United Nations Security Council Meeting Room. Photo: Zack Lee, CC

Today, on April 17, the UN Security Council discusses the UN Secretary General’s 2013 report on sexual violence in war and conflict. The report highlights several emerging concerns, such as the practice of forced marriage by armed groups and the links between sexual violence and natural resource extraction.

“It is important that the UN Security Council continues to keep the focus on this issue. The Security Council plays a key role in preventing and combating the prevalence of sexual violence in war and conflict,” says Lena Ag, Secretary General of The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation, and continues:

“But it is worrying that sexual violence used against political dissidents, as happened during the riots after the Kenya elections in 2007 and in Conakry in Guinea in 2009, is not mentioned in this year’s report, as it was in the last year’s. Nor can rape and serious sexual harassment Egyptian women recently suffered in Tahrir Square in Cairo be found in the report. Our experience is that sexual violence and the threat thereof is one of the most common obstacles for women around the world to get access to the public sphere and to gain influence in society.

This year’s report states that:

  • sexual violence is a serious war crime and elucidates that there is an evident connection to international peace and security;
  • sexual violence and the number of rapes in Mali have increased;
  • sexual violence is often used as a strategy to forcibly displace populations and for ethnic cleansing. One of the reasons is to get access to coveted natural resources or to facilitate drug trafficking. This happens for example in Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria and Libya;
  • in Syria, rape happens at some places and at certain times to such an extent that it could be classified as war crime and crimes against humanity. Jailed Syrian men have also been reported to be victims of rape and torture;
  • forced marriage and sexual slavery has become increasingly common. Militia and guerrilla leaders in e.g. Afghanistan, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Yemen abduct young girls, marry them for then be able to “legally” rape them. Other victims of sexual violence are forced to marry their abusers. This way the perpetrator gets away from punishment;
  • activists, opposition, local politicians and their families are particularly vulnerable to threat of sexual violence and sexual violence.

The report also provides recommendations:

  • women who get pregnant after being raped should be offered adequate care and access to safe abortion or emergency contraception pills;
  • impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence should be counteracted and prohibited;
  • efforts should be made for better monitoring and reporting on men as victims of sexual violence.

“In recent years, conservative forces with religious leanings take every opportunity to try to limit women’s rights. We saw this most recently in March at the UN’s

FactsAfter the UN Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, the UN Security Council adopted in 2000 the Resolution 1325 “Women, Peace and Security,” which is about women’s rights and participation as actors in peace processes. It was followed by the Resolutions 1820, 1888, 1889 and 1960, which further strengthen articles of Resolution 1325 (1889), and specifically target sexual violence in conflict (1820, 1888, 1960).

Commission on the Status of Women. An unholy alliance between the Vatican and Iran amongst others used every opportunity to put a spoke in the wheel of the effort to reach an agreement to end violence against women,” says Lena Ag and continues:

“It is therefore an important signal that the powerful G8 countries, with British conservative Foreign Secretary William Hague at the helm, adopted a declaration in support of the UN’s efforts against sexual violence in conflict last week.”

Anna Magnusson | Katharina Andersen

Mali women present as mediators in transitional negotiations

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When negotiations concerning power transition in Mali were held in Burkina Faso 15-17 April, four Malian women peace activists participated. They presented a declaration that pointed out the problem with having so few women present, and that women’s input is needed to serve the greater good of the country.

- It is unfortunate that women, who make up 51,7 percent of the Malian population, are not well represented at these crucial moments of decision-making, stated Saran Keita, President of  the women’s peace and security network REPSFECO/Mali and one of the four women present, reports UN Women.

Military coup

It was on March 22nd that a military coup ousted Mali’s democratically-elected president Amadou Toumani Touré. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) immediately started negotiations and three weeks later Mali returned to civil rule, when a new interim president, the parliamentary speaker Dioncounda Traoré, was sworn in. But the northern parts of the country are still very unstable, since Tuareg rebels, in alliance with different Islamic militants, seized control of the area shortly after the military coup.

The women’s declaration at the transitional negotiations also mentioned the situation in the north, demanding an unconditional liberation of the northern territories. But it highlighted the need of resolving the conflict through dialogue rather than force.

And the women were able to get their main demands included as part of the final declaration. One of these reads that “the armed groups in the North of Mali are reminded of their obligation to protect the civilians and to scrupulously respect human rights; they are invited to put an immediate end to all forms of violence perpetrated against women and children.”, writes UN Women.

12 months transition

Still the final document of the negotiations was ”deliberately vague”, according to African Diplomacy, and mostly referred back to the agreement signed with the military coup-makers on April 6th. But in a follow-up meeting yesterday, the Heads of State and Government in West Africa decided on a 12 months long political transition period and “to extend the mandate of the organs of the transition, including the acting president, the prime minister and the government on this 12 month period to ensure continuity of governance”.

The Malian women mediators are continuing their advocacy work and has, among other things, drafted a plan of action for mediation.

Read more in Women come to the negotiating table for Mali’s peace and transition process by UN Women and ECOWAS calls for a 12-month transition in Mali by African Diplomacy.