UN: Statements on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
Pillay said she welcomed the fact that peace negotiations are under way in DRC, but added she was afraid that women will once again be placed on the periphery. "Women must be brought into the peace negotiations, and play a full part in the attempt to re-establish security and justice," she said. "They also have an urgent need to be full partners in discussions about the country's future, including a more constructive use of its immense natural resources, the revival of basic social services, and establishment of sustainable development."
The High Commissioner, who pioneered key international jurisprudence on rape in relation to genocide when she was a judge on the Rwanda Tribunal, pointed out that the Security Council has passed two Resolutions, including one in June 2008, on women and peace and security.
"The Security Council has clearly recognized that rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide," she said. "Furthermore it has stressed the need to exclude sexual crimes from amnesties, called on States to prosecute people who commit these crimes, and underlined the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts. We have come a long way in terms of international legal frameworks, but some states still have a long way to go in translating them into judicial systems and peace negotiations that work."
Violence against women is not, however, a phenomenon confined only to conflicts, Pillay added. Despite many advances over the past century, some level of impunity for sexual and other forms of violence against women occurs all across the world, and in virtually all societies. This often results from inadequately framed or implemented laws, which reflect entrenched cultural perceptions that women are inferior, and therefore can be granted fewer rights.
"In some societies, men are fully aware that if they beat or injure – or, in some cases, even kill – their wives or daughters, they will not end up in court," the High Commissioner noted. "What kind of lesson does a state pass on to the next generation, when it turns a blind eye to the abusive treatment of one parent by the other?"
"Efforts to combat violence against women will never be fully successful while national legal frameworks to protect them, and grant them the possibility of economic and social independence, remain inadequate," Pillay said.
Extensive commitments to remove and revise discriminatory laws were made at the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women, and during its follow-up. Similar commitments have been made by states parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and other fundamental human rights treaties.
"I call on states to make a real effort to fulfil these commitments," Pillay said.
25 November 2008
UNIFEM Press release
21 November 2008
This year's International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women marks a defining moment in the global drive to end violence against women. Fuelled by advocacy and action at the grassroots and national levels, the issue has moved to centre stage at the United Nations. In March 2008 the Secretary-General launched his global campaign, UNiTE to End Violence against Women. Its duration through 2015, the deadline for meeting the MDGs, is a challenge for all of us, governments, civil society as well as the international community to take the actions needed to stop this prevalent human rights violation.
On 19 June 2008, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1820, which recognizes sexual violence in situations of armed conflict as a threat to national and international peace and security. The resolution calls for decisive actions by all involved in the conflict to protect women and girls. It calls on international security institutions to make sure that women participate in all aspects of conflict resolution and peacebuilding to ensure there is redress for crimes. Resolution 1820, combined with resolution 1325, form a powerful platform on which to build effective actions to end impunity for violence against women and ensure women's participation in all aspects of reconstructing institutions and communities.
This 25 November also marks the culmination of the first phase of UNIFEM's Say NO to Violence against Women campaign, which is part of the Secretary-General's UNiTE to End Violence against Women initiative. The overwhelming outpouring of support shows us that there is an ever-growing movement of people who urgently seek solutions to ending violence against women.
Now, we must use this momentum to get governments to implement the laws and policies already in place. Despite the fact that more governments than ever have passed such laws, there is still a wide implementation gap. To protect women from violence, and respond to the needs of survivors, we urge the adoption of accountability frameworks, with minimal standards of protection and response. These provide a checklist against which to assess the degree to which a country is upholding the human rights of women. Among the measures which should be in place are:
* Prompt police response, health and legal services, free of charge, for poor women and girls;
* Shelters and safe options for women surviving or fleeing life-threatening situations;
* National hotlines available 24-hours a day to report abuse and seek protection;
* Basic front-line services for emergency and immediate care for women and girls who have suffered abuse and rape; and
* Accountable judiciary and national action plans to end discrimination and promote equality.
The Secretary-General's system-wide UNiTE campaign offers a blueprint for implementation and combined action. Partnerships between the United Nations and governments, civil society, the private sector, men and youth, and the religious community show great promise. Between now and 2015 we must all work together to make implementation our top priority.