Update

Ending sexual violence in conflict

13 June 2014

Faith leaders and faith-based organisations have a vital role to play in engaging their communities in both the prevention of, and response to, sexual violence in conflict. That was one of the main outcomes coming out of the ministerial dialogue held as part of the Global summit to end sexual violence in conflict.

The ministerial meeting brought together Ministers, senior faith leaders and representatives of faith-based organisations and other NGOs to discuss the role of faith leaders and faith-based organisations in tackling sexual violence; to examine how to enhance greater collaboration between faith leaders and governments and other key civil society groups; and to identify resources and training for faith leaders to enable them to respond effectively and appropriately to survivors of violence.

Participants agreed that faith communities are often at the centre of communities and able to be first responders in times of crisis. They can challenge the attitudes associated with sexual violence and address perceptions that can lead to inequality and the spread of violence. 

"Addressing discrimination in all its forms and manifestations is central to responding to sexual violence in conflict and faith leaders have a central role to play,” said UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Luiz Loures. "It is intolerable that women and girls suffer from so much violence in conflict and insecure settings. These brutal acts are a violation of human rights, place women at risk and make them vulnerable to HIV,” he added.

UNAIDS is working in conflict settings in South Sudan, Mali, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo to: Secure HIV services and reduce vulnerabilities of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in conflict, post conflict as well as fragile environments; engage the military, police and peacekeepers as agents for change in reducing risks of HIV transmission among civilians and combatants; and address sexual and gender-based violence by taking steps to protect vulnerable women and girls and in the event of abuse ensure access to post exposure prophylaxis.

Global summit

The Global summit to end sexual violence in conflict, the largest international gathering ever held on this issue, addressed the impact of sexual violence on health, peace and development. The meeting, co-chaired by Foreign Secretary William Hague and Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Angelina Jolie, was hosted in London from 10 to 13 June and brought together more than 900 experts representing the legal, military, humanitarian and judicial  sectors, NGOs, sexual violence survivors, faith leaders, regional and  international organizations from across the world to share commitment to end sexual violence, provide support to survivors of sexual violence and find ways to hold perpetrators accountable.

The debate during the Summit addressed four key areas including:

  • Accountability, including through increased documentation and investigations;
  • Greater support and protection to survivors of sexual violence, including children;
  • Sexual and gender based violence responses and the promotion of gender equality are fully integrated in all peace and security efforts, including security and justice sector reform; and
  • Regional and international strategic co-operation.

An international protocol for dealing with rape and sexual violence in conflict was presented providing guidelines on the investigation of sex crimes and the collection of evidence for future prosecutions. Participants also signed a Statement of Action, and agreed on a range of legal, humanitarian and security sector reforms that will play a critical role in ending the culture of impunity for sexual violence in conflict.