2nd LD Writethru: UN envoy on conflict-related sexual violence wants mechanism for accountability, compliance

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UNITED NATIONS, April 18 (Xinhua) -- A UN envoy on conflict-related sexual violence has expressed the hope that the Security Council will set up a formal mechanism to tighten accountability and monitor compliance.

Pramila Patten, special representative of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on sexual violence in conflict, made the plea on Thursday in the context that Germany, which holds the Security Council presidency for the month of April, is working on a draft resolution concerning the issue of conflict-related sexual violence.

She was briefing reporters on Guterres' latest report on the issue, which will provide the basis for a Security Council high-level open debate and a possible adoption of the German-drafted resolution on Tuesday.

She emphasized the importance of closing the protection and compliance gap and wished for the adoption of such a resolution.

"My office is very much supportive of seeing the council endorsing a formal mechanism that would achieve these goals. We want the resolution to be operationally oriented, and we do hope that on Tuesday there will be a unanimous adoption of the resolution."

In terms of the form that the mechanism could take, her office has recommended a working group of all members of the Security Council, said Patten. "It will be a formal working group... that will really focus on compliance of state and nonstate actors."

She said the working group will have the power to impose sanctions for noncompliance.

But she cautioned that it is not a done deal as the proposal is under consideration by the Security Council, which is engaged in the final phase of negotiations, she said.

Patten said a formal mechanism is essential for her office to carry out its mandate.

Without such a formal mechanism, her office cannot engage with nonstate actors. With member states, she currently cannot bring information about compliance or noncompliance to the Security Council so that the council can respond and act accordingly, she said. "For me, a formal mechanism would serve to put more pressure and to scrutinize compliance."

Patten also wanted the Security Council to endorse a survivor-centered approach, including the delivery of quality gender- and age-appropriate multisectoral services, such as sexual and reproductive health services.

There are recommendations that urge member states to recognize the distinct needs of women and girls and their children born as a result of sexual violence because there is a huge policy gap when it comes to children born of rape, she said.

Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege, who shared the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict, wrote a letter to all Security Council members to demand the inclusion of the measures in the resolution, said Patten.

The two Nobel Peace Prize laureates will brief the Security Council in Tuesday's debate.

Patten said the situation with conflict-related sexual violence remains "very bleak."

It is difficult to ascertain the exact prevalence of sexual violence in conflict as a result of under-reporting, she said, noting that the data in the secretary-general's report is based on UN-verified information, which has a very high threshold.

"While there is significant normative progress in recent years through (Security) Council resolutions, amongst others, but clearly words on paper are not quite yet matched by facts on the ground, and wars are still being fought very much on and over the bodies of women and girls."

"In some countries we see increase, in others we see that the figure stabilizing itself but remaining high," said Patten.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the UN peacekeeping mission documented 1,049 cases of sexual violence in 2018, compared with 804 cases in 2017.

In South Sudan, the figures grew from 196 in 2017 to 1,291 in 2018. While in the Central African Republic, the cases of sexual violence in conflict dropped from 308 in 2017 to 259 in 2018, she said.

Patten saw "a disturbing trend" that young girls were increasingly targeted. Of the 330 victims in Somalia in 2017, 329 were girls; of the 271 victims in 2018, 250 were girls, 20 were women, 1 was a boy.

The majority of the violations were perpetrated by nonstate actors, making accountability almost impossible, she said.

"We have no traction when it comes to nonstate actors. Out of the 37 nonstate actors (listed in the report), 36 are acting under the perception that it is cost-free to continue to rape, that there will be no consequences," she said.

In addition, most incidents of mass rape continue to be met with mass impunity, said Patten, noting that only two important convictions have been upheld on appeal in 2018 -- one in the DRC, the other in Guatemala. Enditem

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