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UN urged to curb sexual violence in conflict zones

ISLAMABAD: More human and financial resources should be invested in the security sector reforms and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration efforts to erect barriers against sexual violence in conflict situations all over the world, according to Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

Masood Khan was speaking during the Security Council’s debate on “Women and Peace and Security”.

According to a press release issued here on Sunday, he said that missions with relevant mandates played a key role in combating sexual violence and Pakistan, as a leading participant in peacekeeping, had contributed meaningfully to the effort.

“Gender sensitisation as a core cultural value has been a mandatory part of our training for peacekeepers. Pakistani women have served as police officers, doctors and nurses in different missions in Asia, Africa and the Balkans,” he said.

Ambassador Khan underlined the need for properly training and equipping UN personnel operating in conflict zones to provide better service to the victims of sexual violence.

“The Inter-Agency Network on Action against Sexual Violence is a useful platform. The inclusion of women protection advisers in peacekeeping operations is making a difference on the ground,” he said.

The envoy said the UN had done a lot but more needed to be done.

Referring to the UN secretary general’s report which noted that the situation had worsened in some parts of the world, he said: “Our collective efforts should focus on converting commitments into concrete, action-oriented preventative measures. We should collectively create a culture of zero tolerance for sexual violence.”

He called for increased participation of women in the processes of decision making on ceasefires, peace agreements and post-conflict peace building.

He said the issues of sexual violence and the overall objectives of protecting the rights of women and children needed to be pursued by the Security Council and the UN system in a holistic way.

Earlier, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, spoke to the council.