United Nations, United States: A Nobel peace prize winner joined several countries in calling on the United Nations Security Council Wednesday to increase sanctions against perpetrators of sexual violence in conflicts.
Reports of sexual violence have increased in many of the world’s worst conflicts over the past year, from Ethiopia to Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo to Darfur.
“The climate of impunity remains the rule and not the exception,” 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege told the Council’s annual session on sexual violence in conflicts.
“As long as these despicable crimes are not punished, they will continue,” added the Congolese gynecologist, calling on the Security Council to establish “a red line.”
Pramila Patten, the UN Secretary-General’s special emissary on sexual violence in conflicts, noted that this year’s report lists 52 people and entities suspected of committing sexual violence.
“Over 70 percent are persistent perpetrators, having appeared on the list for five or more years without taking remedial or corrective action,” she said.
“It is critical to ensure greater coherence between the practice of listing and the practice of levying targeted and graduated measures by sanctions committees,” the UN official added.
She said that “if applied in a timely and consistent manner, sanctions can change the calculus of parties that operate on the assumption that rape is ‘cost-free,’ or even profitable, in the political economy of war in which women are trafficked, traded, and sold.”
While several Security Council members spoke out against the use of sexual violence as a “weapon of war,” only a few supported the idea of imposing more international sanctions on perpetrators.
Ireland, a non-permanent member, deemed sanctions an “under-utilized tool to deter and punish sexual violence in conflict.”
“This Council has the means to act,” said Irish Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason.
“We believe we need to examine our use of targeted sanctions — specifically the designation criteria of conflict-related sexual violence and listing of sanctioned individuals,” she added.