United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R, front) speaks at a Security Council high-level debate on women and peace and security: sexual violence in conflict, at the UN headquarters in New York, April 23, 2019. Antonio Guterres on Tuesday stressed the need to strengthen justice and accountability on sexual violence in conflict. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
UNITED NATIONS, April 23 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday stressed the need to strengthen justice and accountability on sexual violence in conflict.
Speaking at a Security Council high-level debate on the issue, the UN chief outlined a series of recommendations that were intended to "provide a comprehensive approach to conflict-related sexual violence".
According to the UN chief, the term "conflict-related sexual violence" refers to rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, enforced sterilization, forced marriage and any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity perpetrated against women, men, girls or boys directly or indirectly linked to a conflict.
Sexual violence continues to be a horrific feature of conflicts around the world, said the secretary-general. "We must recognize that sexual violence in conflict largely affects women and girls because it is closely linked to broader issues of gender inequality and discrimination."
"Prevention must therefore be based on promoting women's rights and gender equality in all areas, before, during and after conflict," he added.
This must include women's full and effective participation in political, economic and social life and ensuring accessible and responsive justice and security institutions, said Guterres, adding that strengthening prevention in the context of larger peacemaking efforts is also critical.
Noting the need to strengthen justice and accountability, Guterres said that despite a handful of high-profile convictions, there is widespread impunity for sexual violence in conflict.
"Most of these crimes are never reported, investigated and much less prosecuted," he added.
The UN chief's recommendations include increasing support to national authorities as they reform laws, improve their capacity to investigate and prosecute these crimes, and protect survivors who testify from stigma and fear of reprisal.
He also emphasized the need for greater support for survivors and their families, including healthcare, reparations and other assistance.