Special Representatives welcome creation of International Day for Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict

Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, today joined Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, in welcoming the adoption of a General Assembly resolution establishing 19 June as the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Approved by consensus, the resolution, co-sponsored by 114 Member States, aims to raise awareness of the need to end conflict-related sexual violence, to stand in solidarity with the survivors of sexual violence around the world, and to pay tribute to all those working on the front-lines, often at great personal risk, to eradicate this scourge.

The date 19 June commemorates the breakthrough adoption of Security Council resolution 1820 in 2008, which recognized sexual violence as a tactic of war and a threat to global peace and security, requiring an operational security, justice and service response. It recognized that rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and/or constitutive acts of genocide.

Special Representative Zerrougui highlighted how children are targets of sexual violence during conflict not only because they are generally physically and mentally more vulnerable than adults, but also because making victims of teens and those who are even younger strikes at the very heart of any given community.

“Sometimes children are attacked because of lawlessness,” Special Representative Zerrougui said. “But we also know that targeting children can be a weapon of war. When perpetrators seek out children for sexual violence, they also know that doing so will devastate the entire family, even the entire community.”

She added: “Dedicating a Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict gives us an additional opportunity to encourage even more focus on this very grave issue. It is also an indication of the seriousness with which the international community regards this particularly egregious crime, and serves as a signal that Member States intend step up their collective response to it.”

Special Representative Bangura, who observed the plenary session alongside Special Representative Zerrougui, also commented on the significance of the Day.

“This annual commemoration will serve as a global call to action for security, justice and service actors on behalf of survivors of sexual violence in conflicts all over the world,” she said.

“Our challenge now is to translate advocacy and political will into concrete actions and protection on the ground.”

Click here for UN News Centre report on the General Assembly’s adoption of the resolution.

For additional information:

  • Paulina Kubiak, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, kubiakp@un.org
  • Steven Edwards, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, edwards@un.org