EU action against sexual violence in conflicts

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, Federica Mogherini, High Representative/Vice-President, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, and Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, made the following statement:

Sexual violence against women and girls, boys and men is a despicable crime, and even more so when it occurs in situations of conflict, or as a tactic of war. It is a grave violation of human rights and international humanitarian law. For this reason, the European Union always has and will continue to condemn and fight sexual violence in conflict with the strongest commitment” – the text of the joint  statement says.

“All survivors must be guaranteed access to comprehensive psychological and health care services, as well as justice and reparations. We expect all states to conduct effective investigation of those crimes, to bring perpetrators to justice and to ensure accountability for past crimes, also to prevent future atrocities” – the EU statement continues.

“Children born following wartime rape and their mothers need to be protected and granted rights, as they often face exclusion and stigmatisation from their own communities and families. We should never forget those victims of war and stand in full support with them.

“The EU has been working hand in hand with its Member States, international partners, and civil society to enshrine the respect of fundamental human rights in peacebuilding efforts worldwide.

“We cannot be passive witness of crimes having such deep and long-term consequences on human beings, communities and entire societies. We will continue investing in raising awareness, while building more equal, educated and respectful societies within and outside our borders. This is and will stay at the core of the EU institutions and with partners around the world.

“We are fully determined to continue taking concrete actions to prevent and eliminate sexual and gender-based violence, in times of peace or conflict” – the statement concludes.

In a global approach, EU policy tools aim at eliminating all forms of conflict-related sexual violence, as part of the broader women, peace and security agenda and as a key aspect of conflict prevention, sustaining peace and sustainable development. This work is guided by the key objectives stipulated in the EU’s Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy, the new European Consensus on Development and the EU Gender Action Plan II.

  • The joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls has been given an initial EU investment of €500 million.
  • In 2017, almost €22 million were allocated in humanitarian aid for the prevention of and response to sexual and gender-based violence worldwide.
  • The EU currently holds the leadership of the ‘Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies’, a global initiative of more than 70 stakeholders to prevent and mitigate gender-based violence, from the earliest onset of a crisis. Also in the areas where our CSDP missions and operations are operating, the EU is supporting 43 multi-year projects, for an amount of €43 million, and two relevant multi-country programmes of €8.5 million, to prevent and address sexual violence. The EU also recently reinforced its zero-tolerance policy for abuses perpetrated by its own staff deployed in missions abroad. As an international framework, the EU signed in 2017 the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, as the first pan-European legal instrument and the most far-reaching international treaty to prevent and combat violence against women including sexual violence. The Convention explicitly recognises such abuses as human rights violations. (Image above: Nadia Murad a victim to sexual violence and EU Sakharov Prize winner, a human rights ,campaigner).

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