Pakistan urges UN to strengthen its accountability mechanisms to end sexual violence against women in conflicts

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 16 (APP):Pakistan has called for strengthening United Nations’ accountability mechanisms to prevent sexual and gender-based violence that women and girls continue to suffer from in almost every conflict around the world.

“The incidence of sexual violence is endemic in situations of foreign occupations and the systematic denial of the right to self-determination,” Ambassador Munir Akram said in a statement submitted to the UN Security Council on Thursday.

“Such violence is aggravated where conflicts remain unresolved and where they assume a religious or ethnic dimension,” the Pakistani envoy told the 15-member Council, which held its quarterly debate on “Women, Peace and Security: Sexual Violence in Conflict.”

Noting that the UN Secretary-General’s report highlighted the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic in preventing sexual violence in conflict situations and providing rehabilitation services to victims, he said that it had amplified resource constraints, gender inequalities, fragility of support systems and rehabilitation services.

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The international community, Ambassador Akram said, should also address gaps in oversight, investigations and accountability mechanisms regarding sexual violence in conflict situations, and the Security Council can continue to play an instrumental role in this regard.

“Provision of health services, rehabilitation, justice and reintegration mechanisms for violation of sexual violence should be strengthened,” he said, adding that it is the responsibility of international community, including the mechanisms of the United Nations to end impunity and promote accountability.

“The increased prosecution in cases of rape and gang rape in conflicts as war crimes and crimes against humanity would serve as a panacea for preventing rape and sexual violence,” the Pakistani envoy said, while stressing the need to strengthen accountability mechanisms in all conflict settings.

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At the start of the virtual debate, Pramila Patten, who is the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, spotlighted worrying increases in misogyny and attacks on women who are visible in public life.

She urged States, many of whose resources are dwindling amid the pandemic’s economic shocks, not to cut funding to crucial healthcare and protection programmes for victims of sexual and gender-based violence. Instead, she said, they should shift their historically massive military expenditures towards human resilience.