The world’s eight richest nations have reached a historic agreement to work together to end sexual violence in conflicts, Britain’s foreign minister William Hague announced on Thursday. Hague called the “horrific” use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war” one of the greatest and most persistent injustices in the world”. From Bosnia to Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, rape has been used against hundreds of thousands of women and girls – inflicting unimaginable suffering, destroying families and fueling conflict, he said.
“To my mind, this cause is the slave trade of our generation,” said Hague, who was been hosting a two-day meeting of G8 foreign ministers in London.
Flanked by Zainab Bangura, the U.N. special representative on sexual violence in conflict, and Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, another U.N. special envoy, Hague said G8 states had agreed on six major steps to tackle the culture of impunity. He also announced nearly $35.5 million (£23 million) in new funding from the G8 for the issue, including more than £10 million from Britain.
Declaring war-time rape a breach of the Geneva Conventions – also known as the laws of war – gives G8 nations the responsibility to seek out and prosecute perpetrators regardless of their nationality and wherever they are in the world.
The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia will also back an international protocol setting out ideal standards for investigating rape and sexual violence. The aim is to increase the number of successful prosecutions by collecting the strongest possible evidence. Amnesties for sexual violence must never be included in peace treaties, the group agreed, pledging to improve training for military and police deployed to war zones. They are often the first to come into contact with survivors of rape.
Aftermath of a Mass Rape in Congo | Fiona Lloyd-Davis (Photo Gallery)