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2nd International Conference on Action with Women and Peace Takes Place
1. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held “the 2nd International Conference on Action with Women and Peace” in a hybrid online and offline format on November 24, 2020.
° The Conference, part of the “Action with Women and Peace” initiative launched by the government of the Republic of Korea in 2018, was the second Conference following the first one held last year.
[Opening Remarks by Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang, Kyung-wha]
2. Minister Kang stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic has negative impact on the issue of sexual violence in conflict and presented ways to enhance the survivor-centered approach in responding to sexual violence in conflict.
° The Minister pointed out that, although this year holds great significance, marking the 20th anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on the issue of sexual violence in conflict, the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on gender equality, and the 75th anniversary of the founding of the UN, the issue of sexual violence in conflict still remains serious, with the situation on the ground made worse by COVID-19.
° The Minister stressed that, in order to enhance the survivor-centered approach, it is important for the international community to continue efforts to fully defend and advocate the rights of victims and survivors to reparation and other forms of redress, to end impunity and bring justice to survivors, and to empower women and civic groups.
° The Minister also explained that the efforts of the past ROK governments to resolve the so-called “comfort-women” issue had clearly lacked a survivor-centered approach and that the current government has redoubled its efforts to listen to the survivors.
[Congratulatory Remarks and Keynote Speeches]
3. The other major speakers attending the Conference had an in-depth discussion on “Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict – Ensuring Survivor-centered Approach,” the theme of the Conference.
° UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Bachelet expressed concern over possible setbacks in the previous achievements due to COVID-19, spoke of the limited access to services and judicial procedures as well as the lack of financial resources with regard to sexual violence in conflict, and called for ensuring meaningful participation of survivors in assistance projects and judicial procedures for the survivors.
° Minister of State of the United Kingdom Lord Ahmad and Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany Annen, taking note of the timeliness of the Conference, shared their respective countries’ efforts to tackle sexual violence in conflict and matters of interest. Ambassador for Women, Peace, and Security of Canada O'Neill mentioned that the issue of sexual violence in conflict is getting worse due to COVID-19, adding that various opinions of women and youth should be reflected in policies.
° Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Patten shared the progress in the discussions on relevant norms, including the consecutive adoption of UN Security Council resolutions on the issue of sexual violence in conflict, and underscored the need to continue rendering assistance to survivors amid the COVID-19 situation.
° Dr. Mukwege, a 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, presented his efforts to help survivors and emphasized the importance of ensuring justice and resolving the impunity issue. Meanwhile, Dr. Mukwege’s co-laureate and women's rights activist Murad mentioned the importance of realizing gender equality and the need to build a platform through which to listen to the voices of survivors.
° Special Envoy for the UN Refugee Agency Jolie congratulated the ROK on holding the Conference, spoke of the reality where the issues of sexual violence in conflict, experienced by women, and impunity, are getting worse, emphasized that the international community should take more active steps to eliminate sexual violence in conflict, and particularly stressed that there should be changes that survivors can actually feel.
[Session 1: COVID-19 Pandemic and Conflict-related Sexual Violence]
4. Session I was chaired by Ambassador for Gender Equality of the ROK government Cho Young-Sook and brought together delegates of Korean and international organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), who focused on shedding light on the issue of sexual violence in conflict amid the COVID-19 crisis.
5. The organizations delivered presentations and had a discussion on the impacts of the COVID-19 on sexual violence in conflict, efforts to support survivors of sexual violence in refugee camps amid the COVID-19 crisis, innovative ways to support survivors post COVID-19, and the progress in KOICA’s projects and activities to prevent sexual violence amid the COVID-19 situation.
[Session 2: Ensuring a Survivor-centered Approach: Various Efforts and Remaining Challenges]
6. In Session 2 chaired by Director of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Seoul Policy Center Stephan Klingebiel, survivor support groups in Asia, including the ROK, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, discussed the significance of the survivor-centered approach and relevant efforts.
7. Specifically, they presented their opinions on the survivor-centered approach that survivors want, the Korean civil society’s views on the survivor-centered approach, judicial efforts and limitations on the approach, and the preservation of records by producing documentaries on survivors.
[Voices of Youth: the Screening of the Winning Entries of the 2020 Global Youth Video Competition]
8. The video clips made by three most outstanding teams in “the 2020 Global Youth Video Competition,” which had been held on the theme of sexual violence in conflict ahead of the Conference, were played, serving as an opportunity to share creative voices of future generations on the issue of sexual violence in conflict.
[Significance of the Conference]
9. “The 2nd International Conference on Action with Women and Peace,” held in the presence of diverse speakers from the ROK and abroad, has served as an opportunity to enhance the ROK government’s leadership and contribution on the issue of sexual violence in conflict, a universal human rights issue of the international community.
° It should be particularly noted that under the circumstance where attention to the issue of sexual violence in conflict could be limited due to the spread of COVID-19, the ROK-led Conference brought to the international community renewed attention to the significance and gravity of the issue and collected various opinions on ways to reinforce the survivor-centered approach.
° The ROK government will continue to increase contribution on the issue by building on the outcome of the discussion at the Conference.