Germany became a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for a two-year term in January 2019. The German government placed the protection and empowerment of women in conflict on top of their political agenda during the membership in the Council. On 23 April 2019, the Security Council has adopted Resolution 2467 on combating sexualised violence in conflicts and strengthening survivors, which was sponsored by Germany.
In order to discuss the success of Germany’s commitment for the Women, Peace and Security agenda, GPI together with the German Association of the United Nations hosted a high-level panel discussion with Christoph Heusgen, Germany’s Permanent Representative to the UN, and other experts on 28 August 2019. During the event, Ambassador Heusgen stressed that sexual violence in conflicts must be recognised as a central security challenge to which the international community has to react strongly.
While MP Franziska Brantner, Parliamentary Manager of the Green Party, criticised Resolution 2467 during the discussion for excluding sexual and reproductive rights, she applauded it for condemning sexual violence against women in conflict, as it happened to the Yezidi Women in Iraq. They were abducted, tortured and raped systematically by ISIS. Nadia Murad is arguably amongst the most prominent survivors of this atrocity. Now under special protection in Germany, she founded Nadia’s Initiative, an organisation advocating for survivors of genocide and sexual violence. For her outstanding human rights work, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.
Nadia Murad has long been known as the face and voice of the Yezidi. For three years, she has been advocating for Yezidi justice in international fora and through meetings with world leaders. She constantly calls for international action against ISIS and urged for the crimes against the Yazidi to be officially recognised as genocide.
Her Initiative is dedicated to rebuilding communities in crisis, advocating for victims of sexual violence and ultimately engaging for a world free from genocide and crimes against humanity. The Initiative encourages world leaders to act and stresses that “words without action inflict the same harm and suffering as the perpetrators of mass atrocities and sexual violence”.
Advancing reconstruction efforts – The Sinjar Action Fund (SAF)
In Sinjar, an Iraqi city, more than 90 percent of the 500,000 Yezidi population fled. Only 8,000 families have returned. The rebuilding of Sinjar is an important element of Nadia’s Initiative. Therefore, Nadia Murad founded the Sinjar Action Fund (SAF). It aims to advance reconstruction efforts and facilitate peacebuilding from a bottom-up perspective, as any reconstruction efforts must derive from locally-defined needs. Nadia herself seeded the fund and fully invested the Nobel Peace Prize money into her initiative, hoping to set an example for other supporters from the global community.
As part of the rebuilding efforts and with support from the French government and the European Union, the Initiative partners with Chaine de l’Espoir (CDE) to build a new hospital in Sinjar City over the next three years. De-mining in the region remains an important element, too. As one of the most landmine-affected countries in the world, the situation in Iraq puts the population at significant risk of injury and death. It also impedes current humanitarian and recovery efforts.
Nadia also decided to include the rehabilitation of farmers and landowners in her work, as ISIS destroyed the majority of farms and fields. Hence, farmers do not only receive seeds, but also the required technical and logistical infrastructure to revive the Southern region of Sinjar.
Survivor-Centred Responses – Strengthening Those Most Affected
Besides her work on the ground, Nadia continues to increase political awareness for survivors of conflict-induced sexual violence. She believes that the humanitarian needs of survivors are frequently overlooked or mischaracterised in international media. In addition, survivors suffer from the double burden of being raped and shunned by their communities. In order to meet these particular needs, Nadia’s Initiative and the Mukwege Foundation cooperate with the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict to launch the International Fund for Survivors of Conflict Related Sexual Violence. The fund provides financial support to women affected by rape, torture and related crimes.
At the core of Nadia’s advocacy work lies the desire for justice and accountability for ISIS’ crimes against the Yazidis. Jointly with human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, the Initiative brought the first prosecution of international crimes committed by ISIS militants against Yazidis to court. Securing accountability for crimes against humanity of any kind remains an important remit – not only for her Initiative, but for the global community as a whole.
Seeking Further International Support
Significantly, political initiatives like Nadia’s only unfold their full potential once being joined by other supporters, contributors, and voices. For individuals, the easiest way is donating to Nadia’s Initiative. Institutional supporters may reach out to the team anytime and seek support in the battle against humanitarian crimes, sexual violence and abduction and for justice, accountability and criminal prosecution.
“Women, Peace and Security” is one of Global Perspectives’ core topics. As a civil society partner to the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations and its Permanent Representative, Dr Christoph Heusgen, GPI joined the Open Arria Meeting in New York in April this year. The meeting focused on the inequalities between women and men in political processes, war, and conflict, which was also the core topic of Germany’s presidency of the UN Security Council in April 2019.
We dedicated a blogpost to the meeting and the topics discussed.