UN Declares Sexual Violence a Tactic of War
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Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert, a former U.N. peacekeeping commander, told the meeting: â€œIt has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in an armed conflict.â€
Speakers identified former Yugoslavia, Sudanâ€™s Darfur region, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Liberia as conflict regions where deliberate sexual violence had occurred on a mass scale.
U.N. officials have said the problem is currently worst in eastern Congo. But a recent survey of 2,000 women and girls in Liberia showed 75 percent had been raped during the West African countryâ€™s civil war.
A U.S.-sponsored resolution adopted unanimously by the council called sexual violence â€œa tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group.â€
It said the violence â€œcan significantly exacerbate situations of armed conflict and may impede the restoration of international peace and security.â€
It called on parties to conflict to take immediate measures to protect civilians from sexual violence, said such crimes should be excluded from amnesty after conflicts, and warned that the council would consider special measures against parties that commit them when imposing or renewing sanctions.
Itâ€™s also heartening to note that U.S. Secretary of State Condelezza Rice was the champion of the resolution.
The United States, council president for June, chose sexual violence as the theme of the monthâ€™s debate on a general issue. As well as Rice, several government ministers replaced ambassadors as their countriesâ€™ representatives.
Opening the debate, Rice noted there had long been dispute about whether the theme was a security issue and hence something the Security Council was authorized to address.
â€œI am proud that today we respond to that lingering question with a resounding â€˜yesâ€™,â€ she said. â€œThis world body now acknowledges that sexual violence in conflict zones is indeed a security concern.
â€œWe affirm that sexual violence profoundly affects not only the health and safety of women but the economic and social stability of their nations.â€