Sexual violence as weapon of war in Ukraine cannot go unpunished
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, responsible for Foreign and European Affairs, had a meeting today with Nadia Murrad, the Yezidi human rights activist who was awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize along with Dr. Denis Mukwege for her efforts against sexual violence as a weapon of war. During the discussion, Prime Minister De Croo emphasized that the acts of sexual violence committed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine cannot go unpunished.
Alexander De Croo: "Sexual violence in conflicts is still widespread. In the war in Ukraine today, too, we see sexual violence being used as a weapon of war. The stories of brutal rapes of Ukrainian women and girls by Russian soldiers are horrifying and sickening. It should be clear to the perpetrators: this sexual violence will not go unpunished. Sexual violence against civilians is a crime against humanity and punishable by the International Criminal Court. It is important that the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in Ukraine collects as much evidence and testimony as possible about the sexual violence so that effective prosecution can take place."
Priority for Belgium
The Women, Peace and Security Agenda is a key priority in Belgian foreign policy. Belgium itself has just adopted a National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (2022-26), where one of the six pillars is dedicated to the fight against conflict-related sexual violence to improve the situation of women and girls in (post-)conflict situations.
Belgium also continues to systematically put the issue of sexual violence during conflict on the agenda during bilateral meetings and in multilateral forums. Belgium's commitment has also resulted into support for Nadia's Initiative and the Global Survivor's Fund, among others.
In addition, Belgium also contributes to the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence during Conflict, Ms. Pramila Patten, and to other UN initiatives such as the UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict and the UN Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict.