The United Nations and the Republic of Iraq today signed an agreement of cooperation on the prevention of and response to conflict-related sexual violence in Iraq (the “Joint Communiqué”). The agreement was signed in New York on the margins of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly by the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Mrs. Zainab Hawa Bangura, and Dr. Ibrahim Al-Eshaiker Al-Jaffari, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Iraq.
This “Joint Communiqué” was agreed subsequent to the 2015 visit of the Special Representative to Iraq. The mission was conducted in the framework of Security Council resolution 2106, to address the critical issue of conflict-related sexual violence in Iraq, where the Da’esh terrorist group has for the past two years been waging a widespread and systemic campaign of sexual violence that is calculated, methodical and unprecedented. Da’esh has focused in particular on minority communities, inflicting unspeakable suffering on civilians and causing them to flee their homes. This includes the targeting of Yazidi, Turkmen Shia, Shia Shabak and Christian Iraqis.
Special Representative Bangura said: “When I visited Iraq in 2015, I heard stories of sexual violence that shook me to my core. Yazidi girls described to me being registered on lists, inspected like livestock, sold in modern-day slave markets, and then repeatedly raped by the fighters who bought them. Those who managed to escape remain in urgent need of medical and psychosocial support and assistance to pick up the pieces of their lives. And, there are today thousands of Yazidis, including women and girls, still missing. I do believe that these crimes amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide.”
This agreement signed today marks the beginning of a more structured collaboration between the United Nations and the Republic of Iraq for a comprehensive response to conflict-related sexual violence in the security, justice and service sectors. In particular, it will contribute to addressing some of the pressing challenges that Iraq faces with regard to justice and accountability for such crimes committed within Iraq or against Iraqi nationals. The support envisioned under the agreement will include the documentation and collection of evidence of such crimes; strengthening the Iraqi legal framework to be able to better address sexual violence; and putting in place modalities for victim compensation. The Joint Communiqué will enable the United Nations to provide support both to the national government and regional administrations.
It will also serve as a framework for action and cooperation to address the urgent need for services and livelihood support for survivors and children born of pregnancy resulting from rape. And, it places special emphasis on ensuring that the protection and empowerment of women is central to all strategies to combat Da’esh.
“Ultimately, it is my hope that this agreement will also catalyse greater support from the international community to help those in Iraq already working to put an end to conflict-related sexual violence. We stand in solidarity with the survivors, people of Iraq and its government to eradicate and address the aftermath of these devastating crimes”, Special Representative Bangura stated.
Welcoming the agreement, Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for Iraq Ján Kubiš said: “This agreement will support the advancement of the implementation of the National Action Plan on UN Security Council resolution 1325, which includes elements on addressing conflict-related sexual violence”. He reiterated that the United Nations remains committed and stands ready to assist the Iraqi government and its citizens towards achieving its goals on advancing the women, peace and security agenda.
For media inquiries, please contact Letitia Anderson, Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, New York. Tel: +1 212 963 0910; email@example.com