UN Special Representative James Swan's statement on commemoration of International Day for Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict
Mogadishu – On the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia James Swan paid tribute to the survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, and recognised with deep appreciation the efforts of those who work tirelessly to prevent such violence and provide critical support for survivors. SRSG Swan also called for Somalia’s leaders, communities and partners to re-double their efforts to eradicate conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) in the country.
This year’s global theme is “Building back better: Supporting survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in the context of pandemic recovery”, which in the wake of the pandemic requires an inclusive, survivor-centered, and gender-informed approach. This includes amplifying the voices of women, girls and all survivors while at the same time addressing the root causes of the conflict and CRSV. Somalia also requires ‘building back better’, considering the widespread sexual violence in the country, targeting especially the most vulnerable segments of the society, such is the people living in the Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps and settlement.
Reports of sexual violence have significantly increased in Somalia in 2020 compared to the previous year, with the impact being compounded with pandemic-related lockdowns and limited access to services and safe places. Rape and attempted rape were the most frequently reported forms of sexual violence in Somalia.
SRSG Swan acknowledged the Government of Somalia’s continued commitment to eliminate sexual violence in conflict, specifically its efforts to implement the Joint Communiqué on the Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict. He commended the recent Ministry of Defense’s adoption of a Human Rights Policy as well as the issuing command orders prohibiting sexual violence through the respective chains of command of the Army and Police.
SRSG Swan stated “this reinforces the commitment for zero-tolerance of such violations in Army and Police Codes of Conduct and is a step forward. It is a clear signal that impunity will not be tolerated, and that alleged violations should be investigated and processed through the criminal justice system.” However, given that violations have almost doubled in the last year, SRSG Swan also urged that the new National Action Plan for implementation of the Joint Communiqué to end sexual violence be developed and adopted to ensure that the Government’s commitments are implemented as soon as possible.
The International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict is commemorated every year on 19 June, the day of the adoption of the first Security Council Resolution to recognize conflict-related sexual violence as a weapon of war and threat to international peace and security (S/RES/1820 of 2008).