William Hague and the other G8 Foreign Ministers ought to be commended on their agenda setting for the G8 Summit in June 2013. The Foreign Ministers met on the 10th and 11th April to discuss the issues to be addressed at the Summit highlighting challenges faced and actions to be taken. The priorities range over a number of issues including: Africa particularly North and West Africa, Mali, Somalia, the DRC, Sudan and South Sudan; the Middle East including Syria, the Peace Process, the Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition and Yemen; Nuclear Proliferation and Disarmament, Iran, DPRK, Burma/Myanmar, Afghanistan, Cyber Security, Climate Change, Maritime Security, Human Rights, Counter Terrorism, Illicit Drugs and finally, Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.
It is very much worth noting the extensiveness of these priorities outlined in comparison to Mr. Cameron’s solely economics based focus on Tax, Trade and Transparency (A nice use of alliteration I must add). There is no doubt that economy is a vital issues but let’s leave that to the G20 shall we? Mr Cameron ought to take a leaf out of Mr Hague’s priority book.
Now the priorities mentioned above are certainly exhaustive and positive frameworks and actions on challenges facing each issue are vital.
However, as much as North Korea and Iran have been an issue that the media have been up in arms over, it was Mr Hague and the other foreign minister’s actions on the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative that is worth applauding. Yet it was not only the work of the Ministers. Joining the G8 Ministers in London this week was Angelina Jolie (Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees) and Zainab Bangura (Special Representative for the UN on sexual violence in conflict), joining as the Foreign Ministers signed in the historic G8 Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict- a true achievement. (Of course, this must now be met with decisive government action to follow the recommendations made.)
Last year, on the 29th May 2012 the Foreign Secretary launched the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative as a Government initiative proving to be a very active step in work towards preventing rape and sexual violence in conflict; a horrific but often forgotten part of war. We continue to hear tragic stories from the DRC and Syria, among other places, yet these atrocities continue to be committed on a mass scale with little sign of ending.
The UK government’s step forward to tackle this issue is essential and builds upon UN actions from Security Council Resolution 1325 and the work of various bodies within the UN.
What strikes me most about the prioritisation of this issue is the work that as opposed to the all-words-no-action approach to Syria, Iran and DPRK, Mr Hague’s work for the PVSI are genuine action beyond mere words. But he hasn’t done it alone. Angelina Jolie has been working with Mr Hague on this initiative and the Hague-Jolie pairing symbolises real determination on both their parts to stop sexual violence in conflict. Last month, Ms Jolie and Mr Hague travlled to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda where they’ll to meet victims of sexual violence, and discussing with doctors and lawyers how to work towards healing the victims and achieving justice for them.