Nigel Baker

Nigel Baker

Ambassador to the Holy See

27th September 2012 Holy See

Preventing Sexual Violence: A Bold Initiative worth Supporting

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague speaking at the launch of the UK initiative on preventing sexual violence in conflict, 29 May 2012.

On 25 September, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague co-hosted an event at the UN General Assembly alongside Zainab Bangura, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. He spoke about his Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI), launched in London last May. The PSVI aims to strengthen international efforts and co-ordination to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict, to erode the existing culture of impunity, to increase the number of perpetrators brought to justice internationally and nationally, and to support states to build capacity.

Sexual violence has long been used as a weapon against civilian populations, including refugee populations, in conflict. It is often deliberately inflicted in order to physically and psychologically injure, to humiliate, to degrade and to stigmatise individuals and communities. Rape as a war crime is prohibited under the Geneva Conventions. Yet sexual violence continues to be used actively as a weapon in conflict. We saw it in the Balkans in the 1990s. We see it now in conflict zones in parts of Africa and the Middle East, most notably Syria today. Yet  successful prosecutions of offenders have been, and continue to be, few and far between.

The objective of the UK’s PSVI is practical action: more prosecutions, better evidence to underpin judicial cases, support for survivors, the steady elimination of this horrific crime in conflict-affected countries. Mr Hague pledged an extra £1m to support Zainab Bangura’s team. We will also take forward a sustained diplomatic campaign through 2012 and the UK’s 2013 G8 Presidency to rally international attention. A new UK team of experts devoted to tackling the issue will be deployed for the first time later this year.

We have already brought the PSVI to the attention of the Holy See, and we look forward to co-operating closely with the Holy See on an issue that is central to conflict prevention and peace-building worldwide. Ultimately, of course, PSVI is about respect for the dignity and worth of the human person. This is at the heart of the 1945 Charter of the United Nations, and central to the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI and the Roman Catholic Church.

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One comment on “Preventing Sexual Violence: A Bold Initiative worth Supporting

  1. This is a great move. I hope pursuing such a honorable cause could have an added effect of strengthening the rule of Law in so called ‘Democratic’ Countries like Sierra Leone, where there is hardly any difference between the arms of Government (Judiciary, Executive & the Legislature)

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About Nigel Baker

Nigel is currently British Ambassador to the Holy See. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as Deputy Head of Mission in the British Embassy in Havana, Cuba (2003-6) and then as British Ambassador in La Paz, Bolivia (2007-11).

As the first British Ambassador to the Holy See ever to have a blog, Nigel provides a window on what the Embassy and the Ambassador does. The issues Nigel has written about include: Women at the Holy See, British Parliamentarians’ visit to the Holy See, Diplomacy and Faith and the phenomenon of World Youth Day.

More on Nigel’s career

Nigel was based in London between 1998 and 2003. He spent two years on European Union issues (for the UK 1998 EU Presidency and on European Security and Defence questions), before crossing St James’s Park to work for three years as The Assistant Private Secretary to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. At St James’s Palace, Nigel worked on international issues, including the management of The Prince of Wales’s overseas visits and tours, on the Commonwealth, interfaith issues, the arts and international development.

Nigel spent much of the early part of his FCO career in Central Europe, after an initial stint as Desk Officer for the Maghreb countries in the Near East and North Africa department (1990-91). Between 1992 and 1996, Nigel served in the British embassies in Prague and Bratislava, the latter being created in 1993 after the peaceful division of Czechoslovakia into the separate Czech and Slovak Republics.

Nigel joined the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) in September 1989. Between 1996 and 1998 he took a two year academic sabbatical to research and write about themes in 18th century European history, being based in Verona but also researching in Cambridge, Paris and Naples. The research followed from Nigel’s time as a student at Cambridge (1985-88) where he read history and was awarded a First Class Honours degree, followed by his MA in 1992.

Before joining the Foreign Office, Nigel worked briefly for the Conservative Research Department in London at the time of the 1989 European election campaign.

Nigel married Alexandra (Sasha) in 1997. They have one son, Benjamin, born in Bolivia in September 2008.

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