UK urges action to stop rape and sexual violence during war

Fri, Dec 7, 2012, 00:00

CONFLICTS:The UK has urged the OSCE to do more to stop rape and sexual violence during war. London was giving more money to the UN to deal with the issue, and was developing a team of legal, medical and forensic experts which could be sent to conflicts to help combat the problem, British foreign secretary William Hague told the council.

“Many hundreds of thousands of women, children and men have endured the horrors of rape and sexual violence in conflict during our lifetime, but too often this has been treated as something that simply happens in the fog of war,” he said.

He called on the OSCE to develop a plan on the issue for all its member states. During its presidency of the G8 next year the UK would try to develop an international protocol on the investigation and prosecution of these crimes.

Mr Hague also wanted the organisation to tackle cyber security, given its large membership. The UK wanted to see an international consensus on rules to guide behaviour in cyberspace.

He said the OSCE was strong when it stood together but added that the consensus principle which governed the organisation “can be a hindrance to progress when states pursue narrow national agendas and ignore the collective values on which the OSCE is built”.

The Czech Republic was disappointed there had not been more progress in resolving conflicts in the OSCE, said deputy foreign minister Jiri Schneider. “The protracted conflicts are one of the main factors that indisputably limit the ability of OSCE to make progress in several other fields.”

There had also been setbacks for democracy in parts of the OSCE with limitations put on non-governmental organisations and restrictions on internet freedom. “In some participating states there are still political prisoners,” he said.

Georgia criticised Russia for not engaging in talks to resolve the aftermath of the 2008 conflict between the two countries.

“Our Russian colleagues walked away from the drafting table after having first engaged in the process,” Georgian foreign minister Maia Panjikidze told the meeting.

Croatia’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister Vesna Pusic said she would like to see the OSCE doing more work on advancement of women. She called on the organisation to implement a UN Security Council resolution on women, peace and security.

She said Zagreb was paying close attention to developments by the OSCE’s Mediterranean partners, such as Tunisia and Egypt, and stood ready to help these countries develop OSCE commitments.

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