OHCHR: briefing by Margot Wallström srsg Special Representative for disaster risk reduction on sexual Violence in conflict

10 February 2011- Margot Wallström was invited by the Human Rights Council to give an update of her visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The situation: The two main problems concerning the phenomenon of sexual violence were intimidation and impunity.
Margot Wallström described the situation in DRC as follows:
“Sexual violence is being used as by the combatants as a weapon of war to instil fear among the people.  As the phenomenon became systematic and extensive, non-state perpetrators followed.  Women are gang raped in front of their family with no recourse but to live in shame and sometimes with irreversible physical damage.  The women have to carry their children, to toil for their food, to care for their husbands and now to bear humiliation. It has also been reported that not only women are raped but boys as well.
The standpoint that rape during war is simply collateral damage must be changed.  Rape is neither cultural nor sexual, it is criminal.  Out of an estimated 15,000 rapes, only 12 were convicted.  Justice has been painfully slow.
Asked about the reparation that the rape victims desire, it was found out that the women consider peace as acceptable reparation, and their children being sent to school.  However, punishment of the perpetrators cannot be downgraded because sexual violence silence strives in silence and impunity.  It has been found that perpetrator actually become frail when as a consequence of their acts, their properties will be taken away from them and that their own family will necessarily be involved. This would be a way to make combatants consider rape as a liability rather than a tactic of war.  
Role of the UN:
Sexual violence in DRC is a political and human rights problem.  Thus, the Human Rights Council plays a crucial role in the protection of human rights and in the guarantee of freedom. Peace and security could not be attained without giving justice to the women.
Margot Wallström spoke about two important UN Resolutions.
Security Council Resolution 1888 (SCR 1888) was unanimously adopted on 16 September 2009. It asked Member States to take effective steps to halt the use of sexual violence as a tactic of war, and addresses some of the practical implementation matters arising from SCR 1820. It is the third resolution adopted by the Council under its women, peace and security agenda item and it is vital that all States go beyond condemning the use of sexual violence and that it go beyond broad calls to end impunity.
On 16 December 2010 the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution No. 1960 on sexual violence in armed conflict. The resolution carry out a series of measures to guarantee sentences for perpetrators of sexual violence through providing recommendations to the Security Council on sanctions, reporting measures, among others.
Margot Wallström shared that the UN seeks to undertake the following:  
(a) give an opportunity for a normal free life to all women;  
(b) reinforce obligation of a non civil actors to respect Human Rights;
(c) ensure the punishment for all the responsible of violence;
(d) change the attitude and behaviour of the people,
(e) provide professional training to peacekeepers in order to integrate them with the population (e.g. language training for the peacekeepers to better communicate with the population and understand their needs);
(f) provide professional training for army police; and
(g) create a net of collaboration between village leaders, churches and reporter and strengthen the collaboration with the civil society.
She stressed that it is important to continue the collaboration between UN and African Union; to further improve Human Rights monitoring mechanisms that play significant role to report to the Secretary General for the recruitment of Child in the conflict; and to support peacekeepers.
There are national laws on rape and there is no gap in the international legislations but the problem is their implementation that is why the UN urges the government of DRC to send a clear message to the perpetrators that this kind of abuse is a violation of the law, therefore, punishable.