World's governments must turn back the tide of sexual violence with concrete action during global summit

World leaders must take concrete action to end sexual and gender-based violence in conflict during a landmark summit this week, hosted by UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie and UK Foreign Minister William Hague.

The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict will be attended by government ministers from around the world, civil society experts and survivors of conflict-related sexual and gender based violence. It is the largest gathering ever on the issue.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“William Hague and Angelina Jolie deserve praise for pushing this initiative. The massive global problem of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict has finally got the attention it so desperately needs.

“This historic moment must not be squandered. States must seize this opportunity to commit to action to prevent sexual and gender-based violence in conflict, to investigate and punish it effectively and to give survivors reparation, protection and support.”

Participating states are asked to sign up to and implement a comprehensive action plan for ending sexual and gender-based violence in conflict.

The summit comes amid deafening international outcry against sexual and gender-based violence, following the rape and murder of two girls in India, Elliot Rodger’s targeted shooting of women in the US, and the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria.

While media attention in each of these cases has prompted a government reaction, sexual violence in conflict often goes unanswered by authorities, despite the shocking numbers it affects.

In a series of recommendations published ahead of the summit, Amnesty International has highlighted serious failures in the enforcement of international law that allows impunity for these crimes to prevail.

The recommendations show how documentation, investigation and prosecution of these crimes can and must be improved at national and international level.

Amnesty is urging states to meet their international legal obligations to prevent and punish these crimes, provide reparation to victims and support and protect women human rights defenders working on the issue. It also calls for improved international strategic coordination on prevention and response.

Critical to the success of the summit is the participation of hundreds of civil society representatives from around the world.  Human rights defenders from Asia, Africa and Latin America will join Amnesty representatives at the summit.

Women human rights defenders are at the forefront of efforts to prevent and map crimes and obtain justice and reparation for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict. They are also often themselves the targets of attacks, including sexual and gender-based violence.

Kate Allen added:

“The commitments made during the summit need to be implemented quickly and with adequate resources so that human rights defenders can safely and securely carry out their work in support of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.”

Later this week the UK Government will unveil its own latest National Action Plan on women, peace and security that outlines its intent to uphold its international commitment to protect women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Kate Allen added:

“We await with particular interest the UK’s own National Action Plan. That will show whether Mr Hague intends to lead from the front.

“The UK must also implement its own recommendations on supporting women pushing for human rights, by starting in Afghanistan where women activists including those who have worked with the UK Government face increasing insecurity.”

In a series of recommendations published ahead of the summit, Amnesty has highlighted serious failures to enforce international law that allow for impunity for these crimes to prevail, and makes concrete recommendations for how documentation, investigation and prosecution of these crimes can and must be improved at the national and international level.


Notes to editors

The delegation of human rights defenders are from Asia, Africa and Latin America and include Manizha Naderi Executive Director of Women for Afghan Women (WAW), Afghanistan’s largest human rights organisation.  Women in Afghanistan routinely face extreme violence and abuse. Rape, forced marriage, underage marriage and domestic violence are rife.  Manizha runs seven shelters for women and girls who could not return home because of violence.

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Recommendations for states to combat sexual violence in conflict
Checklist for states at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict