Protecting women better, prosecuting perpetrators

Violence against women and girls in conflicts Protecting women better, prosecuting perpetrators

Chaired by Germany’s Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2467 on 23 April. The resolution aims to better protect women and girls from sexual violence in areas affected by conflict. Germany put this matter at the heart of its membership of the United Nations Security Council.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, human rights barrister Amal Clooney and Nobel Peace laureate Nadia Murad and Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stand together deep in discussion

Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (at right) with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, human rights barrister Amal Clooney and Nobel Peace laureate Nadia Murad (from left to right) before the UN Security Council debate

Photo: Thomas Koehler/photothek.net

"The adoption of Resolution 2467 is a milestone on the way to ending sexual violence in conflicts," said Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas after the successful vote in the UN Security Council. In future it will be possible to bring specific criminal prosecutions for sexual violence – also in the form of targeted sanctions. 

Germany assumed the presidency of the United Nations Security Council in April 2019. On 23 April, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas chaired the United Nations debate on combating sexual violence in conflicts.

Punishing perpetrators of sexual violence

Resolution 2467 takes the existing Resolution 1325 to the next level. This was necessary, primarily to ensure that in future individuals who are guilty of sexual violence can be held to account. The revision of the resolution is largely the result of Germany’s initiative. 

Resolution 1325 was adopted by the UN Security Council in 2000, in order to involve women to a greater extent in peace and security processes. On 11 January 2017 the German Cabinet adopted its second action plan to implement the resolution covering the period 2017 to 2020. 

In the run-up to the UN debate, Heiko Maas along with the actress and co-founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative Angelina Jolie called for a tightening of the instruments available to criminal prosecutors and the courts in an op-ed published by the Washington Post. In the article they focused on rigorously tackling sexual violence and those responsible "We want to ensure that perpetrators of sexual violence are held accountable."

The victims also include boys and young men who are also often unable to protect themselves against sexual attacks. Children born of rape also need attention and support. Resolution 2467 is intended to offer all victims protection and assistance. 

Involving women in peace processes

There is also further need to make more progress on implementing Resolution 1325, stressed Heiko Maas during the debate in New York. "Women must at last be involved on an equal basis in all peace processes. Only then can the wounds caused by war be healed," he said. They must increasingly be assigned as female peacekeepers. And we owe it to the victims to pursue legal action.

Alongside the German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, numerous celebrities spoke out ahead of the debate and demanded better protection for women and girls from sexual violence in conflicts. The Nobel Peace Prize laureates Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege, human rights barrister Amal Clooney and the Libyan civil society activist Inas Miloud gave moving speeches in front of the UN Security Council.

At international level the German government is working to strengthen the role of women in peacekeeping and conflict prevention. "Women, peace and security" is one of the priorities of Germany’s membership of the Security Council in 2019 and 2020. Germany and Peru are to take over the co-presidency of the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security.