You have to credit the United States with making the most of its month long chairmanship of the Security Council. First, President Obama chairs a meeting on non-proliferation and disarmament with other heads of state. Now, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is using the platform to push an issue critically important to international peace and security: combating sexual violence as a tool of warfare.
This summer, Clinton made an unprecedented (for a Secretary of State) visit to eastern Congo where she saw first-hand how widespread rape can fatally undermine long-term efforts of peace and reconciliation. The point is, in places like eastern Congo, rape is more than just a personal tragedy — it is an international security problem.
The resolution that will be voted on today is not simply a symbolic show of Security Council unity on this issue. (Though that is important!) Rather, it creates a new position in the UN system of a senior coordiator to address how armed conflict affects women and “sets up a system of technical experts to work with the new senior coordinator and to support the UN country teams and peacekeeping missions as they address sexual violence.”
Human Rights Watch and other commentators have repeatedly criticized the Security Council and the UN system as a whole for not doing enough to protect women against violence. Specifically, UN peacekeeping procedures have failed to implement the council’s vision expressed in the 2000 resolution that women and men should be equal partners in post-conflict negotiations and rebuilding processes. Over the past few years, nongovernmental organizations around the globe have rallied around a call for a senior UN post to spearhead these actions.
“The Security Council finally has responded to the call from women around the world to designate responsibility for its actions on women and girls,” said Mollmann. “The UN secretary-general needs to move decisively to make an appointment for this post. Women in the midst of conflict should not be made to wait any longer.”