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UN Report Names Worst Offenders Of Sexual Violence During Conflict

The annual United Nations report documenting conflict-related sexual violence around the world for the first time named some of the military forces, militias and other armed groups that are suspected of being among the worst offenders.

The groups listed in the report include the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the Central African Republic (CAR) and in South Sudan, armed militia groups and former armed forces in Ivory Coast, and the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The report provides instances of how sexual violence has threatened security and impeded peace-building in post-conflict situations, such as in Chad, CAR, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and how it has been used in the context of elections, political strife and civil unrest in Egypt, Guinea, Kenya and Syria, among others.

"Wars have entered the marketplaces where women trade; they follow children en route to school; and haunt the prison cells where political activists are detained," said the Secretary-General's Special Representative Margot Wallström, who presented the report on Thursday to the Security Council in New York.

The report stresses that over the past year there have been several new and ongoing armed conflicts where sexual violence was widespread and, in some instances, may have been systematically targeted at civilians by armed forces and armed groups with the intent of punishing, and humiliating the population.

It highlights the need to put measures and frameworks in place not just to address sexual violence in conflict but to prevent it, and outlines various U.N. initiatives that seek to identify early warning signs of sexual violence, and to ensure that peace agreements address this issue so it is not repeated in the future.

Wallström told the Council that when rape is part of political coercion it threatens collective peace and security with long-term consequences.

Wallström emphasized the need to protect not only women and children but also men from sexual violence. She expressed particular concern about the reported sexual abuse of men in detention in Syria as a method of extracting intelligence.

The report, which covers the period from December 2010 to November 2011, also underscores the importance of ensuring that sexual violence does not continue in post-conflict situations, as there are many cases when this type of violence will prevail long after wars have ended.

Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous and Amina Megheirbi from the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Working Group on Women, Peace and Stability also addressed the Council.

by RTT Staff Writer

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