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The Diplomatic Dispatch

The British Ambassador to Sweden blogs on The Local

Posts Tagged ‘Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative’

International Women’s Day: ‘women’s economic empowerment and raising girls’ aspirations’.

Friday, March 7th, 2014
Upon receiving the Hillary Clinton prize for women, peace and security last month, UK Foreign Secretary Hague said, “I believe that there is no greater strategic prize of the 21st century than the full social, political and economic empowerment of all women everywhere.” [Full speech]
Tomorrow is the 103rd International Women’s Day. A great deal  has been accomplished in the area of gender equality and human rights over the last century, however as the global community continues to face crises such as those in the Ukraine and Syria, continued progress and cooperation is crucial.
The UK recognises that long-term conflict prevention requires investment in all perspectives. Women’s participation can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the causes of, and alternative solutions to, violent conflict. Promoting and supporting women’s active and meaningful participation in all peace processes, as well as their representation in formal and informal decision-making at all levels, is vital to international peace and security.
To this end, the UK’s theme for International Women’s Day this year is ‘women’s economic empowerment and raising girls’ aspirations’.
Over coming months, the UK will be participating in and facilitating activities around the globe which contribute to the promotion and protection of women’s and girls’ rights overseas.
Starting next week, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will meet to discuss and negotiate ‘Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls’. The CSW is one of the main international policy-making bodies
dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women, and the UK is a committed member. The draft of agreed conclusions can be viewed here.
Later this month, Ministerial and policy specialists from the UK will visit Sweden to participate in the 2014 Stockholm Forum on Security and Development, being hosted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, Hillevi Engström. It will focus on the links between socioeconomic development,
conflict, peace and security.
In early June, the UK will host the biggest summit ever held on the issue of ending sexual violence in conflict. The Summit will be co-chaired by Foreign Secretary Hague and the UN Special Envoy for the UN Refugee Agency, Angelina Jolie and will consist of ministerial, NGO and civil society events. All of the 137 States who have so far endorsed the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict which the Foreign Secretary launched at the UN General Assembly earlier this year have been invited to attend (including Sweden of course!).
The Summit will both seek agreement to practical steps from states to shatter the culture of impunity for war zone rape once and for all, and deliver practical and ambitious agreements that bring together conflict/ post-conflict affected countries, donors, the UN and other multilateral
organisations and civil society.
Such agreements could include revising military doctrine and training; improving peacekeeping training and operations; providing support to local and grassroots organisations and human rights defenders; developing the deployment of international expertise to build national capacity; improved support for survivors; and forming new partnerships to support conflict affected countries.
Click here for more information on the Foreign Secretary’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative.

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Human Rights and Democracy Report

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

This year it will be 65 years since the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Open any newspaper or news website today and you find depressingly many and varied examples of continuing breaches of those universal rights in countries around the world.

Advancing respect for universal human rights is a priority for UK, and EU, foreign policy. For that reason, every year the Foreign and Commonwealth Office publishes a Human Rights Report. The Report covers our global human rights priorities and countries of concern. On 15 April our Foreign Secretary William Hague launched the FCO Human Rights and Democracy Report 2012.

If you follow the Embassy on Twitter or Facebook or read my last blog you will know how the UK as G8 President is prioritising the issue of tackling rape and sexual violence in conflict. This year there is a new section on the Preventing of Sexual Violence Initiative in the Report.

At the launch event the Foreign Secretary was joined by two guest speakers; Dr Ahmed Shaheed, Human Rights Council special Rapporteur on Iran, who shared his insight into the work of the UN and Madeleine Rees from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and a member of the PSVI steering board spoke more widely about the violence against women, including sexual violence.

We want to know what you think too. On the FCO’s Human Rights and Democracy homepage you can submit your comments on this important issue.

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Threats Old and New

Friday, April 12th, 2013
This week, Foreign Ministers from the Group of Eight (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, US and Russia) met in London. They looked at a wide range of issues, including the situation in the Middle East (specifically Syria and Iran), Africa, DPRK and climate change.
Two particular issues they addressed illustrate that diplomacy has a role to play in tackling threats as old as warfare is and as new as today’s and tomorrow’s technology.
As G8 President, the UK has prioritised the issue of rape and sexual violence in conflict. The Government has announced £10 million in extra funding to tackle this scourge. Other G8 countries also announced new commitments.
Foreign Secretary William Hague has been working with the UN and NGOs on this, including UNHCR special envoy, Angelina Jolie. Attending the G8, she said:
Rape is not a women’s issue, or a humanitarian issue, it is a global issue and it belongs here at the top table of international decision-making”.
The UK aims to address the culture of impunity for those who use rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war.  G8 leadership, along with the UN and EU, will, we hope, give new impetus to efforts to end one of the most devastating aspects of modern warfare and address one of the main reasons why it is so difficult for communities to come back together after conflict.
A very different type of threat comes from the cyber domain. G8 Ministers looked at the question of cyber security, specifically how to best balance security considerations with freedom of expression online. The UK and Sweden have worked closely on this, including at a joint event with Nordic and Baltic partners in January. But there is still a great deal of work to be done internationally to build countries’ capacity to minimise and combat cyber threats.
Earlier this week, William Hague announced a new Global Centre for Cyber-Security Capacity Building at Oxford University that will work bilaterally with countries on capacity-building projects.
Click here to read more about the outcome of the G8 Ministerial and the UK’s overall objectives for our Presidency this year.

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The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Guest blog by Jenny Söderqvist, Political Attaché at the British Embassy in Sweden

This Sunday is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – a UN initiative to raise awareness about this complex and serious problem. The date – 25 of November – has not been chosen at random, but marks the brutal assassination of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, in 1960. That was over 50 years ago. But sadly, still today, we see too much violence against women and girls. This is a global problem that takes many different shapes and is closely linked to wider security and development issues.

One worrying example is the widespread sexual violence in war. From Bosnia to the Democratic Republic of Congo, rape has been used as a terrifying weapon in conflict. To raise awareness Foreign Secretary William Hague launched his Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) with UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie in May. This initiative aims to increase the number of perpetrators brought to justice by supporting international efforts and co-ordination, to prevent and respond to sexual violence and helping states build national capacity.

The British government is working hard to raise awareness of the problem and design and pursue adequate long-term responses, driven by both women and men. At the Embassy we discussed this issue with Swedish women’s groups, policy makers and non-governmental representatives, when the Permanent Secretary at the British Department for International Development, Mark Lowcock, visited Sweden in September. They all had lots of good ideas how to deal with the root causes of violence against women. This meeting really underlined to me that although in many cases the victims were women and girls, they were also the key to the solution.  As an (often vocal!) woman myself I know what powerful advocates of change women can be.  Women and girls hardly ever fight the world’s wars, but they often suffer the most. It’s time we all took a stand to change this.

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