Wien, 30. September 2009 Press release

Spindelegger: "Zero tolerance to sexual violence in armed conflicts"

Foreign Minister on the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1888

Vienna, 30 September 2009 - "Sexual violence is an obstacle to lasting peace. Day after day, women and girls are systematically raped and sexually abused in armed conflicts worldwide. Today the UN Security Council set an important signal in the fight against sexual violence as a weapon of war, and also decided to appoint a Special Envoy to the UN Secretary General for this area", said Foreign Minister Spindelegger in connection with today’s adoption of resolution 1888 by the UN Security Council. According to estimates, at least 200,000 women and girls have been victims of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone since the beginning of the armed conflict 13 years ago.

Austria has persistently supported the establishment of this mandate. "We want to give a voice and better protection to the usually voiceless victims of sexual violence. This is the only way to put a stop to systematic sexual violence in conflict situations, and to improve psychological and medical care for survivors", stressed the Foreign Minister. As a current member of the UN Security Council, Austria actively contributed to the drafting of this groundbreaking resolution from the very beginning. As recently as last week, several partners within the UN, such as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, expressed their appreciation for Austria’s engagement for the protection of the civilian population, especially of women and children in personal meetings they had with Foreign Minister Spindelegger.

"Over and over, we must make ourselves aware that lasting reconciliation and peace are only possible if women are integrated in peace processes as equal partners and if their particular concerns are appropriately considered in peace missions", concluded the Foreign Minister.

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