Speaking before the conference Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "Shattering the culture of impunity for those who use rape as a weapon of war is the next great global challenge of our generation."
Today, the Foreign Secretary will attend and deliver the keynote speech on the final afternoon of a Wilton Park Conference on “Preventing sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations”.
Following his announcement in May that Britain would set up a specialist team of experts that could be deployed to conflict areas to support UN missions and local civil society to investigate allegations of sexual violence, gather evidence and help build the capabilities of other nations, the Foreign Secretary will today announce that the specialist team now consists of 70 people and is ready to deploy overseas in the near future.
Those recruited for the team include police, lawyers, psychologists, doctors, forensic experts, gender-based violence experts and experts in the care and protection of survivors and witnesses.
The Foreign Secretary will also announce additional funding of more than £¼ million over a three year period to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support to develop policies, guidance and training for use by UN peacekeepers as first responders to incidents of sexual violence.
Speaking about the conference, the Foreign Secretary said:
“I believe that a critical mass of public opinion has now begun to build up against the use of rape as a weapon of war in many countries. My experience as a politician leads me to believe that this is the moment to mobilise global public opinion and to rally the efforts of nations, in the same way that we have mustered the will to ban the use of landmines and cluster munitions, and are on the verge of securing an international Arms Trade Treaty. Shattering the culture of impunity for those who use rape as a weapon of war is the next great global challenge of our generation. It is a cause whose time has come.”
Participants at today’s conference are drawn from over 25 countries and include ministers and senior practitioners and experts.
The conference which includes sessions on the international normative framework; addressing impunity; early warning indicators; strengthening justice mechanisms; and communications, was also attended by the following:
- Mrs Zainab Bangura, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict
- Margot Wallstrom, the former Special Representative
- Madeleine Rees, Secretary-General of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
- Serge Brammertz, a prosecutor from the ICTY
- Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said:
“I am delighted to be working with Foreign Secretary Hague again on the United Kingdom’s initiative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict. In many conflicts, sexual violence is used as a tactic of war, intended to hurt not only a single individual, but their family, their community, their ethnic group. Today this has almost become a rule rather than an exception, and we all must work together to combat the impunity and ensure justice for the victims.”