Parliamentarians commit to ending sexual violence in conflict
In partnership with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK Branch (CPA UK), BGIPU co-hosted an international parliamentary event on the fringe of the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict on 12 June which was chared by Baroness Hodgson of Abinger. The event – “Implementing the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative” – focused on concrete actions that could be taken by parliamentarians, bringing together parliamentary delegates to the Summit, British MPs and civil society experts to share examples on legislation, private members’ bills, and committee work aimed at addressing sexual violence issues.
In discussing national experiences, key points raised by parliamentarians included the vital importance of ending impunitiy for sexual violence in conflict, the need to engage men and boys in global efforts, ready access to special technical assistance for gathering of evidence of sexual violence, gender-sensitive training of security forces, the need to recognise gender issues in conflict prevention and peacekeeping efforts and key linkages to other forms of abuse such as female genital mutilation, violence based on sexual orientation and broader sexism and discrimination. The Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP, also attended a networking event convened after the meeting where he highlighted the important role parliamentarians should play in seeking an end to sexual violence in conflict.
The Global Summit hosted by the UK Government at the initiaitve of Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie was the largest-ever gathering on the subject, aiming to create irreversible momentum against sexual violence in conflict. The Summit brought together representatives of more than 100 countries and 900 decision-makers, experts, NGOs, survivors, faith leaders, and international organizations with a shared commitment to ending sexual violence in conflict. The Summit saw the launch of a new International Protocol with international standards for documenting and investigating sexual violence in conflict zones. The International Protocol will help to strengthen prosecutions for rape in conflict and increase chances for successful convictions. Decision makers, including MPs, were urged to strengthen their domestic laws so that perpetrators can be reliably prosecuted both in and outside the countries where they committed their crime. This includes introducing laws which support the aims and objectives of the International Criminal Court.