One of the highlights of the United Nations General Assembly in September will be an event hosted by Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to launch a high level political and ambitious declaration on the need to keep up the international momentum on tackling sexual violence in conflict. This event follows the powerful G8 declaration in April 2013 committing G8 countries to act, and the subsequent warm support from Pope Francis in June for this British initiative.
The declaration at the UN will be action orientated and substantive. We welcome the support of international “Champions” on this issue from countries as diverse as Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Liberia and Jordan. We hope to demonstrate a clear commitment by the global community, including the Holy See, to support and take urgent and immediate action to end the use of rape and sexual violence as weapons of war.
Support has also come from many Catholic organisations, and this week the Supplement Donne, Chiesa, Mondo (“Women, Church, World”) of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano has published in both print and on-line editions, in English and Italian, an article by William Hague on this critical issue. As the Foreign Secretary makes clear: “The Catholic Church has an influential voice and together we can challenge the culture of impunity and silence which has allowed others to hide behind arguments that sexual violence is an inevitable consequence of conflict”. It’s time to make that happen.
UK Ambassador to the Holy See