[JURIST] The UN Security Council [official website] Thursday condemned the use of sexual violence [Resolution 1820 text and materials] against civilians as a war tactic, saying that it can be "a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide." The resolution, adopted unanimously after a debate on women, peace and security [press release], demands that warring parties immediately stop using sexual violence because it violates human rights and threatens international security by prolonging conflicts. Those accused of sexual violence should never be immune from prosecution, and UN member states must
comply with their obligations for prosecuting persons responsible for such acts, to ensure that all victims of sexual violence, particularly women and girls, have equal protection under the law and equal access to justice.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice commended the UN [opening remarks] for deeming sexual violence a security concern, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the Security Council was promoting stability [statement text] by supporting women and demanding accountability. The resolution calls on Ban to report back to the Security Council next year on the resolution's implementation. AFP has more.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) also praised the resolution, calling it the UN's first strong and concrete condemnation [HRW press release] on the issue. The UN issued its primary resolution against sexual violence [Resolution 1325 text, PDF] in 2000, urging warring parties to respect the rights of women and suggesting more participation of women in peace processes. In October 2007 Security Council officials reported that sex offenses in wartime are widespread [statement text; JURIST report]. Last month Ban promised to increase efforts to combat child exploitation and sexual abuse [statement text; JURIST report] allegedly perpetrated by UN peacekeeping forces [report, PDF], and he said during Thursday's debate that such exploitation and abuse is absolutely prohibited.