New York, 14 April 2022 (TDI): “Every new wave of warfare brings a rising tide of human tragedy, including new waves of war’s oldest, most silenced, and least-condemned crime.”

These remarks were made by the UN Secretary-General’s Speech Representative (SRSG), Pramila Patten. She addressed a high-level debate on strengthening accountability to deliver justice for survivors of sexual violence.

Sexual violence is listed as a tool of dominance proliferating during the war in patriarchal societies. For this reason, the Council has passed ten resolutions on Women, Peace, and Security.

Increase in sexual violence against women

Patten highlighted 3293 UN verified cases of rape and other violations from 18 countries in her latest report and referred to them as ‘the emboldening effects of impunity.’

97% of the targets were girls and women, 83 cases were men and boys, and 12 were of the trans community.

Justice and accountability

The report calls for political and diplomatic intervention to address the increasing cases of sexual violence during peace and ceasefire discussions.

The report also recommends early warning indicators, threat analysis, curtailing the flow of small weapons, security sector reforms, gender-responsive justice, and survivors’ votes.

“The pursuit of justice is the most visible form of accountability,” said Nobel Laureate Nadia Murad. She highlighted the historic conviction of ISIL by the German Court and hoped that the international community would do more to ensure justice and accountability for the victims.

She emphasized that sharing the stories of the survivors of sexual violence can prevent what happened from happening to others.

She called for the Council to refer the ISIL case to the ‘International Criminal Court’ or establish a hybrid court to prosecute the crimes of this group.

Murad Code is the set of guidelines for journalists, investigators, and other stakeholders for collecting evidence of rape during war.

Civil society representatives

Civil society representatives from Syria and Ethiopia also briefed the Ambassadors. Despite being on the Security Council agenda, no actions have been taken for accountability of violators of international human rights, said legal investigator Mariana Karkoutly.

She reported that nearly 150,000 people have been disappeared, detained, and arrested since the beginning of the war. Nearly 10,000 Syrian women are being held in detention centers where sexual violence is used to humiliate, punish and force confessions.

Hilina Berhanu from Ethiopia highlighted the situation of sexual violence as a tool of dominance proliferating during the war in Tigray. She said that women with disabilities, men, and boys are also humiliated and are at great risk of sexual violence.

“Lack of access to psychosocial support services also means that the mental health of survivors hangs in the balance. Many have already died by suicide,” she said.