On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, which is “celebrated” today 19 June, the EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, and UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, issued a joint statement calling once more on the international community to accelerate its efforts to eliminate the scourge of sexual and gender-based violence. On the statement, both parties highlighted the many implications of COVID 19 affecting particularly women in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. “Victims of conflict-related sexual violence are amongst those bearing the brunt of the pandemic. We re-commit to working together to prevent conflict-related sexual violence, to protect its victims, to end impunity for its perpetrators, and to guarantee access to justice, reparations and redress for survivors.” stated the EU and UN. While the BIC commends the positive spirit of such statement, it is concerned by its continuous lack of clarify about concrete actions to reverse this trend.
Fernando Aguiar, Strategic Adviser on Conflict and EU Politics at BIC said, “While I do recognize the importance of such political willingness from the EU and UN to address the issue, the emphasis of such statement should rather be on how and which actions should be taken to mitigate and prevent the issue of gender-based violence in conflict. A fundamental prerequisite to achieving this outcome is the recognition that what is required in such a process is more than joint-statements and static narratives. As a first step, the EU and UN should engage more substantially with local actors, as they are the ones with the knowledge to response and recovery processes. Their substantial participation and inclusion is a paramount in the assessment of each context, decision making, design and implementation of any initiative on the ground. On another relevant point, though twenty years have passed after the first Resolution on the WPS agenda, the EU and UN continue to use the same paternalistic narrative, where the “global-north” is framed as the conceptual, material and institutional home of the resolution 1325 and the “global south” as “conflict affected” sites of intervention. How can we overcome this narrowed language and colonial overtones remains a puzzle. But one thing is certain, if the EU and UN want to achieve equality, local partners working on the elimination of gender-based violence in conflict should be treated as equals.”