Today is the 30th anniversary of the UN General Assembly Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace. In 1981, the UN General Assembly declared that this day would be known as the International Day of Peace, and it would be “devoted to the strengthening of the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and people.”
On September 8th, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report detailing rampant sexual abuse committed by African Union Peacekeepers and personnel from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). In the report HRW stated that, “African Union soldiers, relying on Somali intermediaries, have used a range of tactics, including humanitarian aid, to coerce vulnerable women and girls into sexual activity. They have also raped or otherwise sexually assaulted women who were seeking medical assistance or water at AMISOM bases.” Most disturbingly, the youngest victim interviewed was just 12 years old, who said she was raped by an African Union Peacekeeper from Uganda.
Though both the African Union and the Ugandan government have released statements rejecting the HRW’s conclusions, a report that reveals clear and flagrant violations of human rights should be fully investigated, and those responsible for sexual abuse should be held accountable.
We recognize the important role that peacekeepers play in creating and sustaining the culture of peace, but peace at the expense of women and girls is unacceptable. Sexual violence is not the price to be paid.
On this International Day of Peace, Youth to End Sexual Violence demands for decisive action to be taken by the African Union and AMISOM, on behalf of the women and girls who have been exploited by the very people sent to promote and strengthen the ideals of peace.
Executive Director & US Youth Ambassador on Sexual Violence in Conflict