Strategy reveals key measures to tackle rising cases of conflict-related sexual violence
The Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office have presented their “Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative Strategy” to parliament.
The strategy has been formed in response to the global scale of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) which the government has called “appalling”. The strategy has called for “a stronger international response for all those affected, the vast majority of whom are women and girls”. The report stated:
“Progress has been made to support survivors and strengthen accountability, but sexual violence continues to be used in conflict-affected areas on a shocking scale, and impunity continues to be the norm for perpetrators.”
The strategy makes particular reference to the rising number of CRSV cases being reported in Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia. The report lays out how the UK “will work with international partners to support survivors, hold perpetrators to account and put an end to these heinous acts for good”.
The Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) strategy details a three-year plan to support the delivery of the International Development Strategy and the Integrated Review through four objectives. These objectives were revealed to be:
- Objective 1: Strengthen the global response to CRSV. The government stated it will work with our international partners to deliver on the specific commitments made at the PSVI Conference including as outlined in the Political Declaration on CRSV. This includes pursuing further concerted action on the Crimes Against Humanity Convention as a means of strengthening the international legal architecture, including on some forms of CRSV. The UK will also work through multilateral organisations to strengthen the global response, including the UN, NATO, G7, G20 and OSCE.
- Objective 2: Prevent CRSV, including by addressing the root causes such as harmful gender norms through the What Works to Prevent Violence: Impact at Scale programme and through work to reduce the emergence, duration and intensity of conflict. The government will also seek to use both UN and UK sanctions regimes to deter CRSV perpetrators.
- Objective 3: Strengthen justice for all survivors of CRSV and hold perpetrators to account. The government will support national authorities directly and through work with international organisations to strengthen justice and accountability mechanisms and expertise. At the PSVI conference the UK launched a new initiative on CRSV accountability – A.C.T for Survivors – that will strengthen the ability of national authorities to tackle impunity. The initiative aims to bring together expertise and best practice, build capacity, improve national level implementation in priority countries, and increase support to survivors. The UK will promote the Murad Code to ensure the documentation of survivors’ experiences is ethical and effective, including in a project exploring the innovative use of new technologies, such as virtual reality, to safeguard survivors in court. In the Ukraine context, the government will work with the Ukrainian Government to deliver justice following the abhorrent reports of rape and sexual violence perpetrated by Russian forces.
- Objective 4: Enhance support available to survivors and children born of sexual violence in conflict, including tackling the stigma they face within their communities. The UK will support the Global Survivors Fund, build momentum behind the UK-led Declaration of Humanity and the Call to Action to Ensure the Rights and Wellbeing of Children Born of Sexual Violence in Conflict, and deliver our commitments under the Call to Action on Protection from GBV in Emergencies.
The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Affairs, James Cleverly, stated:
“In the end, this is about protecting the right of people to live their lives without fear. Those who commit appalling acts and threaten the security and dignity of women and girls must be held accountable.
The shame is theirs, and theirs alone. Together with our friends and partners, the UK will strive to achieve a fundamental shift in the global response to these crimes. By putting survivors first and ending impunity we can ease the appalling suffering wrought by sexual violence in conflict.”