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Sexual Violence in Conflict

Volume 561: debated on Tuesday 23 April 2013

16. What steps his Department is taking to implement the G8 declaration on preventing sexual violence in conflict; and if he will make a statement. (152361)

Following the adoption of the historic G8 declaration, we will take the campaign to the UN and begin implementation immediately. G8 peacekeeping experts meet next week to discuss commitments on military training, and work begins next month in The Hague, London and Geneva on the development of the protocol.

I congratulate the Foreign Secretary on the outcome of the G8 summit, and I particularly welcome the declaration on the prevention of sexual violence in conflict. Will he tell the House what action he will take to move the initiative beyond the G8?

Now that we have the strong support of the G8 nations in what amounted to an historic declaration, I want to take the campaign to the United Nations and convene during our presidency of the Security Council in June a special session of the Security Council, which I will chair, in order to rally wider global support. I will then take the campaign to the United Nations General Assembly in September. I believe that in this calendar year we can make an enormous difference to global attitudes, action on the ground, and global agreement on combating sexual violence in conflict.

The Foreign Secretary will be aware of ongoing concerns, which have been expressed not least in the Human Rights Watch report published yesterday, on Burma, sexual violence, and what Human Rights Watch says amounts to ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people. Given the lifting of sanctions, what representations has he made on the profoundly concerning human rights breaches against the people of Burma?

It is important for us to keep up the work and the pressure on those subjects, which I discussed last week with one of the President of Burma’s most senior Ministers and advisers—a Minister of the President’s Office. In particular, we discussed addressing the stateless position of the Rohingya people. The UK and other EU countries have a role to play in offering police training in dealing with ethnic violence. Keeping up the pressure on human rights issues will be part of the EU’s continuing approach.