The United Nations Security Council today condemned the use of sexual violence, in particular sexual enslavement and sexual violence “related to or resulting from forced marriage, committee, including as a tactic of war, in Syria and Iraq,” and urged all parties to armed conflict to take all feasible steps to protect civilians from such “abhorrent” acts.
In a statement to the press issued this evening, the Security Council announce that it had been briefed by UN Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura on her visit to the Middle East and expressed concern over and condemned all forms of sexual violence in Syria and Iraq. Council members recalled in their statement that rape and other forms of serious sexual violence in armed conflict are war crimes and constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.
They urged the international community to remain united in the goal of holding those responsible for such crimes accountable. Underscoring the need for all relevant parties in the region, while implementing counter-terrorism, peace building and conflict resolution activities to take into account the importance of women’s empowerment and the protection of women and girls at risk of sexual violence, the Council also expressed the need to bring conflicts in the region to an end in order to reduce the opportunity for sexual violence to be committed. Members of the Security Council acknowledged the efforts of neighbouring countries in protecting refugees, including from sexual violence, and called on the international community to contribute to the United Nations humanitarian appeals for Syria and Iraq.