Women and girls are particularly vulnerable during situations of armed conflicts. According to the United Nations Women (UN Women), although entire communities suffer the consequences of armed conflict, women and girls are particularly affected because of their status in society and their sex. Parties in conflict situations often rape women, sometimes using systematic rape as a tactic of war. Other forms of violence against women committed in armed conflict include murder, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy and forced sterilization.
The Beijing Platform for Action, adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women held in 1995, identified the effects of armed conflict on women as one of 12 critical areas of concern requiring action by governments and the international community.
The Beijing Platform for Action recognized that peace was inextricably linked to equality between women and men and development, and emphasized that women’s full involvement in all efforts for the prevention and resolution of armed conflicts was essential for the promotion and maintenance of peace and security.
In accordance with the principles outlined in the Beijing Platform for Action, the Non-Aligned Movement has stressed that the violence against women and girls, including manifestations of extreme violence, continues to be a major obstacle to the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of women. NAM has reiterated the firm commitment to join efforts and continue combating all forms of violence against women and girls until its complete elimination.
The NAM has consistently expressed its firm position with regard to the need to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls, especially in situations of armed conflict. NAM has raised calls for putting a complete end to the systematic use of abduction and rape as an instrument of war, as well as the trafficking in and victimization of women and girls.
The NAM has stressed the significance of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on women and peace and security, the first resolution ever to address the impact of war on women, and women’s contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. The resolution calls for women’s equal participation with men and their full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. It reaffirms the need to protect women and girls from human rights abuses, including gender-based violence. The resolution calls for action to mainstream gender perspectives in relation to conflict prevention, peace negotiations and the aftermath of conflict.
During the panel discussion held on 13 July, 2020 on accountability for women and girls in humanitarian settings at the 44th session of the Human Rights Council, Azerbaijan, on behalf of the NAM, expressed concerned that 75 years since the establishment of the United Nations, 168 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection due to the increasing number of conflicts and disasters around the world.
It was also worrisome that 25 years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and 20 years since the adoption of the Security Council resolution 1325 promoting women’s participation in ensuring peace and security, women and girls face widespread violence and discrimination, in armed conflict zones, especially in the time of humanitarian crises.
The NAM reiterated its call on the parties to armed conflicts to comply with their obligations applicable to them under international law relevant to the protection of civilians, including women and girls.
The NAM has emphasized that accountability mechanisms based on a human rights approach and sensitive to gender are essential to reduce violence and discrimination against women in situations of armed conflicts and has called on the concerned national authorities to set up more appropriate programs in recognition of the fact that women and girls are faced with multiple, intersecting and changing challenges in situations of armed conflict. There is also a need to strengthen national capacities to develop policy frameworks.
The Movement has reiterated its call on the parties to armed conflicts to comply with their obligations applicable to them under international law relevant to the protection of civilians, including women and girls, bringing perpetrators to justice and ensuring access to justice for survivors.
By Dr. Pawan Mathur
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