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This interview features Demecia Yat, one of 15 women survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in Guatemala. From 2011 – 2016, they fought for justice at a national high court. The groundbreaking case resulted in the conviction of two former military officers of crimes against humanity and granted 18 reparation measures to the women survivors and their communities.
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On the margins of the annual UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security in New York, at a side event on 30 October, survivors, leaders and experts came together to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
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UN Women welcomes the conviction of Bosco Ntaganda by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 8 July 2019 for crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2002 and 2003. The former rebel leader was found guilty on 13 counts of war crimes and 5 counts of crimes against humanity, including rape, sexual slavery, displacement of civilians, and enlisting and conscripting child soldiers under the age of 15 and using them to participate actively in hostilities.
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During the 36-year-long Guatemalan civil war, indigenous women were systematically raped and enslaved by the military in a small community near the Sepur Zarco outpost. What happened to them then was not unique, but what happened next, changed history. From 2011 – 2016, 15 women survivors fought for justice at the highest court of Guatemala. The groundbreaking case resulted in the conviction of two former military officers of crimes against humanity and granted 18 reparation measures to the women survivors and their community. The abuelas of Sepur Zarco, as the women are respectfully referred to, are now waiting to experience justice. Justice, for them, includes education for the children of their community, access to land, a health-care clinic and such measures that will end the abject poverty their community has endured across generations. Justice must be lived.
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Aurélie Roche-Mair is the Director of the International Bar Association (IBA) Hague Office, where she manages the International Criminal Justice Programme. As a member of the Justice Rapid Response-UN Women Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Justice Experts Roster, Ms. Roche-Mair served as the Gender Adviser to the judges during the trial of the former President of Chad, Hissène Habré, in 2016. Habré was convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including rape and sexual slavery. The ground-breaking case marked the first African Union-backed trial of a former Head of State.
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Sepur Zarco was the first case of conflict-related sexual violence challenged under Guatemala’s penal code. It was also the first time that a national court anywhere in the world had ruled on charges of sexual slavery during an armed conflict—a crime under international law. In its path-breaking judgment, the Guatemalan court noted that sexual violence against indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’ women was part of a deliberate strategy by the Guatemalan Army.
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After almost two decades of silence and stigma, Kosovo women survivors of sexual violence during the armed conflict of 1998 – 1999 will soon get legal recognition and reparations, including financial assistance.
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Kosovo begins implementation of the law that gives legal recognition to civilian survivors of the armed conflict and allows them to claim survivor benefits.
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On 26 February, a Guatemalan court convicted two former military officers of crimes against humanity against 11 indigenous Q’eqchi’ women who were subjected to sexual violence, sexual and domestic slavery, the forced disappearance of their husbands, as well as the murder and cruel treatment of a woman and her two small daughters. The historic verdict is being hailed by human rights experts as a major victory in accountability for conflict-related sexual violence.
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Speech by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to present the Secretary-General’s Guidance Note on Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence during a Dialogue with Member States on the Rule of Law at the International Level, New York, 1 August 2014.
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At the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict being held in London, U.K., UN Women today launched along with OHCHR the UN Secretary-General’s Guidance Note on Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, a blueprint for promoting gender-sensitive approaches to the design and delivery of reparations for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.
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Evelyn Amony was abducted by the Ugandan rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) when she was only 12 years old. For nearly three decades, this rebel group has committed a range of atrocities including the abduction of children, rape, killing, maiming and sexual slavery. Today Evelyn is Chair of the Women’s Advocacy Network, comprised of over 400 formerly abducted and war-affected women, many of whom are speaking out and effectively advocating for gender justice in Uganda. In her own words, she tells her story…
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Years of advocacy by women’s rights groups including those monitoring justice for women with disabilities in northern Uganda pays off. Justice for conflict-affected women in Uganda took a big step forward as the Parliament unanimously passed a resolution calling for establishment of special programmes for people affected by the LRA war in northern Uganda.
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As the United Nations Security Council adopts a new resolution on conflict-related sexual violence today, we detail the efforts of a UN Trust Fund-supported programme that works to ensure that sexual and gender-based violence perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge during the 1974-1979 genocide in Cambodia is never forgotten.
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In a statement, Acting Head of UN Women and Assistant Secretary-General Lakshmi Puri welcomes mounting global momentum to end gender-related killings and urges States to take bold and swift action to implement international agreements.
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Saran Keïta Diakité is a lawyer in Mali and President of the Malian branch of the NGO Working Group on Women Peace and Security (Réseau Paix et Sécurité des Femmes de l’Espace CEDEAO). As the Donor Conference on Mali starts in Brussels, in her own words she speaks about the atrocities occurring in her country, which has been plagued by political instability and the proliferation of armed groups that have uprooted more than 415,000 people since a military coup d’état in March 2012. She also talks about the work of her NGO, supported by UN Women, to assist survivors of violence, provide access to justice, and to ensure women have a say in peace negotiations. She was one of four female mediators who took part in peace negotiations from 15-17 April 2012 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Saran also recently spoke in April 2013 at the UN Security Council’s Open Debate on conflict-related sexual violence in New York.
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On March 7, 2013, during the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57), UN Women Deputy Executive Director John Hendra moderated a high-level side event titled “Achieving Gender Justice: The Case for Reparations”. The event, co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Finland, the ICC Liaison Office to the UN and Global Action to Prevent War, addressed the question of “how to achieve transformative justice for women through reparations processes in the wake of conflict”.
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Opening Remarks by John Hendra, Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director Policy and Programme, UN Womenat the Government of Finland, the International Criminal Court (ICC), and Global Action to Prevent War (GAPW) Side Event “Achieving Gender Justice: The Case for Reparations,” 7 March 2013
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In her face and her tone, Mayerlis Angarita projects that infectious joy that is typical of the inhabitants of the savannahs adjoining the Caribbean Sea in Colombia, but her voice cracks as she recalls the tough times that her community, her family and she herself had to endure.
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Armed conflict has plagued Colombia for more than half a century. In any armed conflict the impact on the civilian population, and women in particular, is immense.