On 10-13th June 2014, London’s Excel centre will be hosting the worlds’ largest summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. British Embassies and High Commissions around the world will be hosting events coinciding with the Summit. Global solidarity and support for this initiative is being shared on twitter with the #TimeToAct .
The summit aims to create practical action, bringing about changes at a grass roots level and to create momentum against this atrocity. It will be co-chaired by the Foreign Secretary and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
The issue of Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict will be situated within the broader Women, Peace and Security agenda. The summit hopes to provide an opportunity to progress the international community’s commitment to guaranteeing women’s full economic, social and political rights.
The summit will also be used to launch the new International Protocol on the Investigation and Documentation of Sexual Violence in Conflict. This aims to serve as a practical tool to improve accountability and encourage its widespread use.
Public are encouraged to participate
Alongside formal meetings, there are 3 days of free events open to the public which will take place in the summit fringe at the Excel Centre. Some events require pre-registaration.
Events will be globally representative and explore a broad range of issues related to sexual violence in conflict including: conflict prevention, women’s rights and participation, men and boys, children affected by conflict, international justice and wider issues of violence against women and girls. Successful programmes and policies from around the world will also be shared.
The Fringe is open from 9.00am with last entry at 7.15pm. It includes ‘theatre performances, films and discussion panels, as well as The Gallery, the Market Place, interactive exhibitions and the Digital Hack – #EndSVCHack – a blend of digital and physical space where people with different skills from diverse backgrounds use technology to come together to transform ideas into reality.’ Public Programme details can be found here.
Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict
On 24th September 2013, a Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict was launched in New York. This declaration is endorsed by more than two thirds of all UN Member States and provides practical and political commitments to end the use of rape and sexual violence in war. The declaration aims to give solidarity and support to those who have experienced these crimes and warn perpetrators that they will be held to account.
All the governments that have endorsed this declaration have been invited to the summit together with legal, military and judicial practitioners and representatives from organisations, NGOs and civil society.
The UK Government provides, that they want the summit to create an irreversible movement towards ending the use of rape and violence in conflict and to produce practical agreements which bring together and focus the efforts of conflict and post conflict-affected countries, donors, the UN and other organisations, NGOs and civil society in a programme for change.
‘We want the summit to identify specific actions by the international community in the four areas where we believe greater progress is necessary. These four areas are:
- To improve investigations/documentation of sexual violence in conflict;
- To provide greater support and assistance and reparation for survivors, including child survivors, of sexual violence;
- To ensure sexual and gender based violence responses and the promotion of gender equality are fully integrated in all peace and security efforts, including security and justice sector reform; and
- To improve international strategic co-ordination.’
The summit also hopes to ‘secure agreement to revising military doctrine and training; improving peacekeeping training and operations; providing new support to local and grassroots organisations and human rights defenders; developing the deployment of international expertise to build national capacity; improved support for survivors, including in humanitarian contexts; and forming new partnerships to support conflict-affected countries.’
Whilst writing about the positive discussion, awareness and change this summit aims to bring, one must also consider the broader context of conflict in itself. One is unable to exclude the role of the UK Governments involvement in globally initiating, perpetuating and arming (illegal) conflict. There are many grass roots organisations highlighting this and campaigning for it to end, such as Campaign Against the Arms Trade and Stop the War. This summit in which the UK Government plays a key role, will not in any way serve to whitewash their crimes of complicity. Let’s bring an end to ‘conflict’ and ‘war’, and hold those complicit to account.
Peace and love,