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

The UN General Assembly’s naming of 19 June as the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict will be a reminder to everyone of their engagement to “hold perpetrators accountable,” Leila Zerrougui, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said today in an address before Member States.

She called the resolution designating the International Day the Assembly’s commitment to “put an end to sexual violence” as she described how children in conflict zones – the focus of her mandate – were an easy target for perpetrators because of their vulnerability.

“The structures upon which children rely for their protection – community, but ultimately, the family – are frequently fractured during conflict,” SRSG Zerrougui said.

She also noted that sexual violence was frequently associated with other violations that are within her mandate, such as recruitment and use of children by Government forces or non-State armed groups, and abduction.

Approved by consensus after being co-sponsored by 114 States, the resolution aims to raise awareness of the need to end conflict-related sexual violence, to honour and stand in solidarity with survivors, and to pay tribute to all those working on the front-lines to eradicate the crime.

The day 19 June coincides with the 2008 breakthrough adoption of Security Council resolution 1820, which recognized sexual violence as a war tactic. It specified that rape and other forms of sexual violence could constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide.

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From left to right: SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura; President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa; H.E María Cristina Perceval, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN and SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui

SRSG Zerrougui joined Zainab Hawa Bangura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, at the head of the General Assembly hall and at a subsequent side event commemorating the adoption of the resolution.

Also with them was Ambassador María Cristina Perceval, the Permanent Representative of Argentina, which sponsored the resolution.

“This Day is a call to action for security, justice and services for survivors of sexual violence in conflicts all over the world,” said SRSG Bangura.

“Gender-based violence is still taboo, but this resolution proves that the international community is increasingly aware of the vulnerabilities that women in war zones face at all levels and stages of their lives.”

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