11 June 2014

Africa: At Global Summit, UN Urges Reparations for Victims of Sexual Violence in Conflict

Photo: Kate Holt/IRIN
A woman recovers from rape in a hospital in Goma, DRC. Sexual violence has been used by armed parties on all sides of the conflict.

Victims of conflict-related sexual violence need help rebuilding their lives, the United Nations today said today, launching, at a global summit in London a set of guidelines on reparations for the individuals and the communities affected.

"Stronger action is the need of the hour, and sexual violence in conflict is a front line concern for us," said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. We need to move this agenda forward in order to ensure real change in the lives of survivors who have seen the horrors of sexual violence in conflict up close."

The UN Secretary-General's Guidance Note on Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, launched in jointly with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), calls for "long-term, in-depth solutions" such as land and inheritance rights, and not just a once-off cash payment.

The guidance note was released at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, which is underway in London, co-chaired by UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, with the participation of over 900 experts, non-governmental organizations, survivors, faith leaders and international organizations from around the globe.

The guidelines also include access to credit, fistula surgery to rape victims, and income-generating skills.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka, who was joined at the summit by Zainab Hawa Bangura, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, presented the newly adopted guidelines and noted that reparations are the most victim-focused, and yet most underfunded justice tool in post-conflict countries.

"Reparations are routinely left out of peace negotiations or sidelined in funding priorities, even though they are of utmost importance to survivors," she said, vowing UN Women's to deliver reparations "as a means for substantive change in the lives of women and men, boys and girls affected by conflict and to reflect the needs of victims for both courtroom justice as well as comprehensive redress."

The Guideline was developed for the UN system, with principles applicable to all parties, including Member States and civil society actors who are developing, supporting, and implementing reparations policies and programming, according to the UN agency.

Its key principles aim to have transformative impact; in spirit with UN Security Council resolution 1325(2000), calling for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence to be at the centre, as agents of reform; and acknowledges that human rights violations impact men and women differently and in multiple ways.

Copyright © 2014 UN News Service. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.