UN Women - United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

High-level panel: “Strong commitment and actions imperative for the prevention of sexual violence and gender-based crimes in conflict and for securing justice for survivors”

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Date: 25 September 2012

New York, 25 September—Against the backdrop of the 67th UN General Assembly, the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary, UN Women, the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are calling on world leaders for stronger actions to secure justice for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and gender-based crimes.

Hosting a high-level event at the UN in New York today, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, the SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura, and Nobel Peace Laureates Leymah Gbowee and Jody Williams will address the event, which will be attended by Member States, UN agencies and over thirty NGOs. Major General Patrick Cammaert, former UN Force Division Commander for the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), will also share his insights and experiences.

Panel Member Quotes:

“In conflict zones, women are disproportionately affected by sexual and gender-based violence, forced displacement, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and rights violations. Access to justice means more than punishing the perpetrators. It means redress and reparations that enable women to recover losses, alleviate poverty and become full and equal members of society, says Michelle Bachelet, Under- Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women.

“For too long, conflict-related sexual violence has been largely ‘cost-free' for those who rape women, children and men, whereas the cost and stigma have been borne by the victims. Even as we ensure that survivors receive the care and services they require, we must insist that sexual violence in conflict is not inevitable, but that the consequences for the perpetrators are. This scourge can and must be eradicated, emphasizes Zainab Bangura, SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

“We must end impunity against sexual violence in conflict. This silent scourge blights the lives of survivors - predominantly women, but also significant numbers of men and children, whose stories remain unheard. The scale of the problem is immense, and the response required complex. We must break the silence if we are to achieve sustainable peace and prosperity.

The UK stands ready to put its full weight behind this agenda, as a catalyst for others to take action. I want to use our work on preventing sexual violence to rally strong commitments towards action during the UK's presidency of the G8. We want to engage with States, UN partners, and NGOs to complement existing efforts on the ground, and to step up our collective efforts, said William Hague, UK Foreign Secretary.

“Survivors of sexual violence are brutalized twice - first, by the perpetrators of the crimes against them, and the second time, by governments that fail to apply the rule of law and ensure justice for the survivors, said Jody Williams, co-chair of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict. “As a movement representing civil society around the globe, we are calling on governments to do the right thing—and take immediate action that will bring justice to survivors.

The high-level event, Preventing sexual violence and gender-based crimes in conflict and securing justice for survivorstakes place on 25 September at 11:15 am in Conference Room 6 in the UN Secretariat's North Lawn Building (New York). It will be webcast live at webtv.un.org.

The co-host will also address UN accredited media at the North Lawn Building stakeout area at 12:35 pm.

Limited space for UN accredited press is available. To attend, please RSVP to:

UN Women: Hadrien Bonnaud, email: hadrien.bonnaud[at]unwomen.org; Phone : +1 646 781 3531

Press contacts of other co-organizers:

Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict: Mattias Sundholm, email: sundholm[at]un.org; Phone: 917-628-3531

United Kingdom: Jessica.Jennings[at]fco.gov.uk; Phone 2022139775

For media accreditation to the UN General Assembly: http://www.un.org/en/media/accreditation/index.shtml