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UN official says Security Council has prompted "ideological shift" on conflict-related sexual violence (2)


08:38, February 24, 2012

Wallstrom said that the UN system must continue delivering as one through initiatives like the inter-agency network, UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict. She urged the UN to ensure rapid response to warning signs of possible sexual violence in times of conflict.

In terms of response, she said, "for too long, we have been too late."

"The UN system is working to become better attuned to the 'red flags' and early warning signs," Wallstrom said. "Rape is not a fact of human history, like disease or drought; it is often planned and therefore predictable."

The special representative added that the council must not forget that sexual violence in conflict leaves an impact even after the conflict is over. She said that in her experience in countries like Liberia, sexual violence has left "a profound impact on society."

"Addressing this legacy is not just a moral, but an operational imperative," said Wallstrom. "It is a credibility test for the nascent military and police forces. To echo what has been said so often within these walls: impunity fuels the vicious cycle of violence."

She emphasized that the council should maintain its momentum with regards to preventing sexual violence in conflict, as it has already shown would-be perpetrators that "the world is watching."

"What we have already achieved gives us hope," she said. "The action of this council tells survivors that their lives matter. It also tells perpetrators -- and potential perpetrators -- that war does not mean license to rape."

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