UNITED NATIONS - The Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to name and shame individuals and parties to armed conflict who are "credibly suspected" of committing rape or other forms of sexual violence.
The council said it intended to use the list, to be compiled by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, "for more focused United Nations engagement with those parties," including imposing targeted sanctions.
The resolution adopted by the council reiterates deep concern that despite repeated condemnation, rapes and attacks on women and children caught in conflict still occur "and in some situations have become systematic and widespread, reaching appalling levels of brutality."
The council action follows the rape of 303 civilians - 235 women, 13 men, 52 girls, and three boys - in 13 villages in eastern Congo between July 30 and Aug. 2. Even in the conflict-wracked region, where rape is a daily hazard and some women have been sexually assaulted repeatedly over the years, the numbers released by the United Nations were shocking.
Margot Wallstrom, the U.N. envoy trying to combat sexual violence in conflict, welcomed the adoption of the resolution, saying the new system of monitoring and accountability should "shatter the vicious cycle of impunity for wartime sexual violence."
She stressed that the naming and shaming "must apply equally whether the victim is an 8-year-old girl or an 80-year-old grandmother."
"Today's resolution will help ensure that mass rape is never again met with mass impunity," she said. "Instead of serving as a cheap, silent, and effective tactic of war, sexual violence will be a liability for armed groups."
The International Criminal Court has added rape and sexual violence to the list of war crimes. Former Congo Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba is now on trial at the court in the Hague, Netherlands, for murder, rape, and pillage committed by his private militia in the Central African Republic in 2002-03. Wallstrom said the number of alleged rapes exceeded the number of killings.
Last month, she said there should be more prosecutions for rape during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. Only 12 cases have been prosecuted out of 50,000 to 60,000 victims, she said.
Human Rights Watch called the council's decision to publish an annual list of alleged perpetrators "a tremendous step toward ending this horrendous practice."