10th June 2014 Warsaw, Poland
PSVI Global Summit in London – Time To Act
In May 2012, British Foreign Secretary William Hague launched the “Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative” or “PSVI” In short, PSVI is about preventing the use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon in conflict. In so many conflict situations, it affects not only large numbers of women, but also men and children. However, the perpetrators of such appalling crimes are rarely brought to justice. For example, only around 30 people have so far been convicted for the up to 50,000 rapes committed during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s. So the overarching aim of the Initiative is to replace the culture of impunity with one of deterrence.
Thanks to global support, including active engagement from Poland, we have already seen important progress in recent years. Since September 2013, 144 countries have signed up to the joint Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, which was launched at last September’s UN General Assembly.
But there is much more to do. The next key milestone will take place in London today. The Foreign Secretary and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Special Envoy Angelina Jolie will jointly host the PSVI Global Summit. This will be the largest ever international gathering on this issue. The Summit will run for four days and host an anticipated 1,200 delegates, including government officials, representatives of international organisations, and a broad range of experts from civil society right around the world.
One of the key deliverables from the Summit will be the launch of an “International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict”. This will be a practical tool, which will set out the guidelines to be used by first responders to provide victims with the appropriate and consistent help and support to ensure that information about attacks is recorded and stored in a proper way to aid future prosecutions.
Although not in conflict today, Poland has experienced hardship and suffering as a result of wars and occupation. We were reminded last week as we celebrated the 25th anniversary of Solidarity’s election victory in 1989 that peace and freedom are hard won and need to be preserved, not least given the Ukraine crisis. Sadly, there are still many others around the world who still live in fear of war, conflict and sexual violence. So the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative is hugely relevant to us all.