The UN Security Council in its activities should focus on issues of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict, as the unprecedented cruelty of militants of the terrorist organization Islamic state (IS) and other similar groups have now come to the fore, Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Yevgeny Zagaynov said on Thursday at an open UN Security Council debate on sexual violence in conflict zones.
According to the Russian diplomat, special concern is caused by reports about the emergence of some illegal organization aimed at exploitation of refugees, including within the framework of illicit trade networks, commercial sexual exploitation and sexual slavery. The fight against sexual violence in armed conflict, he added, is transboundary in nature and therefore it is necessary to strengthen international efforts to combat trafficking in persons in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.
According to Zagaynov, there is a need for constant fortification of international cooperation to end terrorist activities that threatened women and girls and to counter infrastructure that exploited migrants. There is also a need to step up action against human trafficking, he said, noting the UNODC’s work in that regard. However, the Security Council must focus only on situations of armed conflict on its agenda in order to avoid duplicating the work of other United Nations entities, he said, emphasizing the need to avoid “hazy ideas” that encouraged broad interpretation of international concepts, and terminology that overstepped the international consensus.
At the UN Security Council meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that “One extremely disturbing aspect is the use of sexual violence as a tactic of terrorism. Da’esh (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL), Boko Haram and other extremist groups are using sexual violence as a means of attracting and retaining fighters, and to generate revenue,” the UN chief said.
According to the UN release, he said that sexual violence is widely recognized as a deliberate strategy used to shred the fabric of society; to control and intimidate communities and to force people from their homes: “It is rightly seen as a threat to international peace and security, a serious violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, and a major impediment to post-conflict reconciliation and economic development.” Mr. Ban noted that the Security Council has played a significant role in ushering in this change, in particular through several landmark resolutions that confirm sexual violence as a war crime, a crime against humanity, and a constituent act of genocide. Among several initiatives put into place by the Secretary-General during his tenure to counter these crimes was the creation of the post of Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, currently held by Zainab Bangura.
According to some estimates in 2014 alone, the Yezidi community (living in the north of Iraq) paid Islamic State up to $45 million in ransom.
The UN Secretary-General said that abducted women, men, girls and boys suffered the most terrible trauma through brutal physical and sexual assault, child and forced marriage and sexual slavery on a massive scale. He called on the UN Security Council to decisively and unanimously address this serious humanitarian problem.