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G8 Foreign Ministers Call For Urgent Action To Address Rape, Sexual Violence In Conflict

“An initiative announced [Thursday] in London by the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries to ramp up the fight against rape and other sexual violence in conflict represents ‘a beacon of light and hope’ for the countless survivors around the world,” the U.N. Secretary General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura said at the launch of the Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence, the U.N. News Centre reports (4/11). “Calling the issue ‘the slave trade of our generation,’ [British Foreign Secretary William Hague] said the ministers … agreed to declare that rape and serious sexual violence in conflict constitute war crimes and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes (4/11). “Hague, who hosted the G8 meeting in London on April 11, said the ministers agreed on setting up an international framework for investigating and prosecuting rape and that there would never be amnesties for sexual violence in peace treaties,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds (11/4). “Hollywood actress [Angelina] Jolie, a United Nations special envoy for refugee issues [who spoke at the meeting], praised Hague and said the declaration signed at the [G8] ministerial meeting is ‘long-overdue,'” Agence France-Presse notes (4/11).

“In [the] communiqué following the London meeting April 11, the ministers endorsed a declaration calling for urgent action to address a ‘culture of impunity and to hold perpetrators to account for acts of sexual violence in armed conflict,'” IIP Digital notes, adding,” The ministers want to strengthen the existing legal system, produce more prosecutions of those who use sexual violence against innocents in conflict, and give more long-term support to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict.” Hague “announced pledges of $36 million in additional funding to curb sexual violence in armed conflict,” the news service writes (Kellerhals, 4/11). According to the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, “the United States is committing $10 million to support new and ongoing efforts that align with the United Kingdom’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security and the U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally [.pdf]” (4/11).