27 November 2012 - Representatives of security forces from 34 African countries are reunited in Bujumbura in a 2-day international conference sponsored by the United Nations to discuss their role in ending violence against women and girls within the framework of the Secretary-General's "Unite to end violence against women campaign".
Addressing participants, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza called for a partnership between his government and all human rights actors to draw attention to and combat gender based violence as it represents a problem worldwide.
President Nkurunziza also emphasized his country's commitment to address violence against women and girls through the adoption of several conventions and resolutions related to women's rights. These include the Security Council Resolution 1325 as well as various national policies, such as the national Action Plan on 1325, the strategy to combat gender based violence and the establishment of a Women's National Forum. Finally, the Burundian Head of State praised the UN Secretary-General for his worldwide campaign and support to Burundi in combating violence against women and girls.
Speaking on behalf of the UN, Ms. Rosine Sori Coulibaly, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Resident Coordinator, stressed the important role of security forces in helping address violence against women and girls, a phenomenon that affects Africa particularly during armed conflicts, while also being due to inherent cultural practices. "We wish that police in Africa be a 'friend' to all women, for the women to be reassured and gain trust (in the institution). (...) We call you to stand as one and fight this scourge".
Ms. Sori Coulibaly also commended African security organs for the endorsement of the SG's campaign as she reassured UN's support to help them implement their plan. "The United Nations will support all security organs' initiatives aimed at combating this villainous and shameful crime".
This international conference on the role of security organs in ending violence against women and girls is the second held in Africa after Kigali, in October 2010, where some countries adopted a declaration calling for the formulation of a "realistic roadmap with clear targets, indicators and budget to accelerate the achievement of the Africa Unite Campaign outcomes".
Participants at Bujumbura's international conference are expected to evaluate the Kigali Declaration's implementation; share best practices and challenges in the prevention of violence against women and girls; and develop a common action plan.
Aside the host country, 33 African states attend the conference: Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Congo, DR Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The conference is sponsored by UN Women, UN Development Program (UNDP), UNICEF and the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB) as well as Germany, and part of the 16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls.