Press release

UK continues to lead the way on ending sexual violence in conflict

UK responds to recommendations from the House of Lords Select Committee and is as committed as ever to ending sexual violence in conflict.

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Britain’s commitment to ending sexual violence in conflict is clear. From training over 17,000 military and police personnel to deploying UK experts over 80 times to 13 countries and providing funding to NGO led projects, many of which have helped survivors to access justice and psychosocial support.

We have also encouraged and supported changes in the law in countries such as Kosovo, Croatia and Cote d’Ivoire and translated the ‘International Protocol’ (a ‘best practice guide’ on investigating crimes of sexual violence in conflict) into 10 languages.

Demonstrating the commitment of the UK Parliament towards this issue, earlier this year the House of Lords Select Committee issued a report titled Sexual Violence in Conflict: A War Crime

This report set out over 120 recommendations and conclusions for the UK Government on sexual violence in conflict, women’s participation, sexual exploitation and abuse, accountability and justice.

Today, Thursday 30 June, the UK government has published its response which welcomes these recommendations. The extensive response shows Britain’s leadership and determination towards ending sexual violence in conflict and calls on international partners such as NGOs and other governments to continue to work with us.

Responding to the House of Lords report, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, Baroness Anelay, said:

Our response to the House of Lords demonstrates our resolve and the impact our work has had in many countries around the world.

The government’s commitment to tackling sexual violence in conflict, ending impunity, bringing perpetrators to justice and supporting survivors’ remains as strong as ever.

We have so far trained over 17,000 military and police personnel, deployed the UK Team of Experts 81 times to support 17 projects and supported survivors in a number of countries to access psychosocial support and justice.

Working with international partners, governments and NGOs the UK will continue to lead the global efforts to end sexual violence in conflict. We know much has been achieved, however we also know there is still much more to do.

Since the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict – held in London in July 2014, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has continued to provide support across the world.

Action to date includes:

  • 81 deployments by UK Team of Experts to 13 countries including Kosovo, the Syrian borders, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the DRC to support survivors, strengthen investigations and increase prosecutions.

  • Training on sexual violence issues for over 10,000 African peacekeeping military and police personnel; 3,600 Peshmerga troops in Iraq; 200 officials from Croatia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Romania, and Slovenia; and 3,500 members of the Malian Army.

  • Translating the International Protocol (a ‘best practice guide’ on investigating crimes of sexual violence in conflict) into ten languages including Albanian, Arabic, Bosnian, French and Swahili.

  • Providing funding and support in Bosnia and Herzegovina to improve access to justice, build judicial capability, provide legal aid, train judges, prosecutors and police and provide psychosocial support for survivors.

  • Training health professionals and human rights defenders in Syria to collect and preserve evidence of human rights abuses, including sexual violence, for future prosecutions.

  • Supporting a project in Colombia to create a network made up of women survivors of sexual violence and supporting professionals across five regions in the country.

  • Supporting work to help survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Through one project, more than 200 survivors have come forward to receive counselling, and 75 faith leaders have received training responding to sexual violence and the needs of survivors.

We have also supported further significant steps globally to address sexual violence in conflict such as:

  • An action plan launched by the Democratic Republic of Congo for the Congolese Army on sexual violence.

  • Colombia training 800 members of the armed forces on gender-based violence prevention.

  • The governments of Croatia and Kosovo revising their laws in order to allow victims of sexual violence from the conflict in the 1990s to access compensation, state support and benefits.

  • Côte d’Ivoire embarking upon a process of legal reform, including to expand its definition of sexual violence and to harmonise its Criminal and Civil Codes with international standards.

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Published 30 June 2016