Over the last ten years, the UN Security Council has consistently called on all parties to armed conflicts to respect women's rights, and to do more in the areas of conflict prevention, peace negotiations, and post-conflict reconstruction efforts. The Council has also trained attention on the clear link between international peace and security and the use of sexual violence as a tool of war against women and girls.
On Tuesday, the Security Council held a debate on this issue which featured briefings by Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Margot Wallstrom, and Special Advisor on Gender Issues Rachel Mayanja. Speaking on behalf of the United States, Ambassador Susan Rice emphasized that "the human cost of sexual violence in conflicts around the world is all too real. Armed conflict continues to have a devastating impact on women and girls -- leaving them wounded, traumatized, sexually assaulted, socially and economically marginalized, or without political power. Member states must renew their commitment to Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1820, and 1888 -- and intensify their efforts to implement their provisions."
At USUN, we are encouraged by the momentum that has grown considerably in the past few months to address sexual violence in conflict -- particularly in the appointment of Special Representative Wallstrom and her work beginning to assemble a team of well-qualified staff, and the immediate attention that the Special Representative has given to the grave crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where an average of 36 women are raped every day. But far more needs to be done to develop initiatives for addressing and preventing sexual violence issues overall -- even as attention must be focused on specific countries and regions where atrocities are being committed every day.
Furthermore, USUN supports advancing the broad set of women's issues through the UN system, and is strongly advocating for the establishment of a more robust, efficient, and effective agency at the UN to advance women's equality, rights and opportunities. We are also working to promote women's deepening involvement in political processes and conflict resolution. As Ambassador Rice has stated, "Almost a decade after the adoption of Resolution 1325, the need to increase women's participation in peace processes and to combat sexual violence in conflict zones has not abated. Women and girls whose lives and futures are on the line cannot wait. We continue our commitment to a world no longer blighted by impunity, assault, discrimination, and the use of rape as a weapon of war."
Jennifer Simon is a Senior Advisor to Ambassador Susan Rice, and serves as the Ambassador’s representative on the White House Council on Women and Girls