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Concerted international action to combat conflict-related sexual violence

PACE today strongly condemned conflict-related sexual violence, which is “a war crime in international law”, can be a constitutive element of genocide, and is used as a means of ethnic cleansing. However, the parliamentarians believe that this phenomenon is not an inevitable consequence of war and can be combated “through concerted international action”, protective national policies, strictly enforced punishment for perpetrators, and survivor-centred reparation programmes.

In adopting a resolution, based on the report by Petra Bayr (Austria, SOC), PACE called on member States to sign and ratify the Rome Statute – as the legal basis for the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – and to use universal jurisdiction as a means of prosecuting perpetrators wherever they have committed crimes of conflict-related sexual violence. It also called for the ratification and implementation by all States of the Istanbul Convention, which applies in times of peace as well as in times of war.

According to the adopted text, member States should, with the Assembly and the Council of Europe, “provide concrete expert and technical support for the setting up of a special ad hoc international tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression against Ukraine”, as conflict-related sexual violence is a result of this crime of aggression.

Finally, care for survivors must be “immediate, holistic and centred on the needs of the persons concerned”, PACE said, calling for support for the ICC’s Trust Fund for Victims by financial contributions, and for the transfer of frozen assets of perpetrators convicted by the ICC to the Trust Fund to finance programmes for survivors. Survivor-centred measures should include, in particular, “access to information and abortion without barriers” the resolution says.