Brussels Call to Action

We, the delegates to the International Symposium on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Beyond, call for urgent and long-term action to:

1. Prevent sexual and gender-based violence by promoting gender equity and equality and the economic, social and political empowerment of women.

2. Enhance mechanisms for regional and subregional collaboration of governments, donors, international organisations and civil society to address sexual and gender-based violence, with special attention to highly volatile areas.

3. Incorporate sexual violence prevention and protection into all aspects of humanitarian assistance including food, fuel, water and sanitation, and shelter as prescribed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s Guidelines for gender-based interventions in humanitarian settings.

4. Prevent and respond to sexual violence in all planning and funding frameworks for humanitarian response, peacebuilding, recovery, development and political dialogue, and link relief and development funding to ensure the continuity of sexual violence prevention and response.

5. Strengthen accountability frameworks and systematic monitoring and reporting on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 and relevant resolutions adopted by the European Council.

6. Intensify international, regional and national efforts to end impunity for perpetrators by strengthening the legal and judicial systems and by enacting and enforcing legislation, and provide national justice systems with the necessary resources to prosecute cases of sexual and gender-based violence.

7. Recognise the right and ensure access to material and symbolic reparation, including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition for all survivors.

8. Develop national action plans to address sexual and gender-based violence that identify comprehensive programmes and opportunities for action across sectors, including sexual and reproductive health and the prevention, treatment and care for HIV/AIDS; education and life skills; human rights; justice; security sector reform; and socio-economic recovery and livelihood support.

9. Ensure the full and active participation of youth, women and other vulnerable populations, including refugees and internally displaced persons, in the development of comprehensive national action plans to address sexual and gender-based violence.

10. Include in national plans the prevention of gender-based violence as an indicator of good governance to be used as an element in determining access to funding, including incentive tranches.

11. Build and strengthen ownership of all national frameworks and develop the capacity of country partners, governmental and non-governmental organisations, particularly women’s organisations, and the UN system to ensure the centrality of sexual and gender-based violence in poverty reduction strategy papers, sector-wide approaches, country and regional strategy papers, consolidated appeals processes, post-conflict needs assessments and national transitional strategies, and common country assessments/UN Development Assistance Frameworks.

12. Ensure specific protection mechanisms for especially vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied and separated children and persons with disabilities.

13. Strengthen behaviour change communication and other measures to preserve and restore positive social values and change harmful beliefs and practices to protect against sexual and gender-based violence and strengthen the protective capacities of families and communities.

14. Incorporate strategies to prevent and respond to sexual violence in disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration and in security sector reform processes, and ensure the full engagement of the security sector, including police and army, to prevent and respond to sexual violence in a sensitive and effective manner.

15. Urge all nations providing troops to UN peacekeeping operations to ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC.

16. Develop awareness of humanitarian laws, human rights and gender equality for humanitarian workers and peacekeepers and enforce the UN code of conduct on zero tolerance for sexual abuse and exploitation.

17. Develop comprehensive awareness-raising strategies on the nature, scope and seriousness of sexual and gender-based violence at all levels to ensure the protection of survivors from discrimination and stigmatisation, and engage men and boys, as well as government officials, community and religious leaders, the media, women’s groups and other opinion makers in promoting and protecting the rights and welfare of women and children.

18. Develop a comprehensive methodology and tools to assess the scope and nature of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict-affected countries and specify budgetary and cost implications.

19. Undertake comprehensive, ethically and methodologically sound, qualitative and quantitative research on the nature, scope, impact, root causes and contributing factors of sexual and gender-based violence, and develop ongoing data collection, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting systems, including gender budgeting.

20. Invest in the capacity building of all stakeholders involved in the prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence in conflict and beyond.

21. Empower the media to educate and advocate against sexual and gender-based violence.

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