On this day, twelve years ago, the United States proudly wrote and sponsored the first United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution to specifically address sexual violence as a tactic of war, leading the international effort to eradicate this barbaric conduct.  UNSC Resolution 1820 acknowledged that rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide.

Armed groups and terrorists have long used sexual violence as a deliberate tactic of terror. Yet, today, with the United States’ leadership, more survivors are receiving justice, perpetrators are being held accountable, and women and girls are safer in many more places around the world.

Women cannot reach their full potential as change agents if they are unsafe in their own homes, public spaces, and institutions. Conflict, crisis, disaster, and the breakdown in rule of law increases the risk and prevalence of violence, including sexual violence, impacting communities across generations.

The United States remains strongly committed at the highest levels to prevent sexual violence in conflict, hold perpetrators accountable, and support survivors. We continue to promote equality and accountability by leveraging the full weight of the U.S. government including through the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) strategy to promote human rights and dignity for all women and girls.

The United States has also been the leading supporter of the Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict since its inception, both politically and financially. Our voluntary contributions support work in Burma, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And today, early warning efforts are prompting the United Nations to act in regions before these crimes are perpetuated.

Sexual violence in conflict is preventable. The United States remains committed to ending sexual violence in conflict and will continue to use the tools at our disposal to encourage others to join in this effort. We stand with the survivors as we work to create a world in which the crimes committed against them no longer exist.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future