Zeinab Hawa Bangura new Special Representative on sexual violence in conflict

SoME Gavobevis 2023

26 June 2012

Since 2010, Swedish politician Margot Wallström has worked for the UN as the special representative in issues concerning sexual violence in conflict, a position which stems from UNSCR 1888. Her mandate has now come to an end and she is to be succeeded by Zeinab Hawa Bangura. For several years, Bangura have been the minister of health in Sierra Leone and have accumulated more than 20 years of practical experience concerning conflict resolution, governance and reconciliation in Africa.

Roots in activism

The UN’s motivation for offering Bangura the post as special representative is highly influated by her great achievements in activism for civil society and democracy movements. For example, she has co-founded the organisation Campaign for Good Governance which aims to strengthen the democratic commitments in the country. Through her activism, Bangura has also been an integral part in Liberia’s peace process, where she through the UN organ UNMIL has had responsibility for its cooperation with the Liberian civil society.

Engagement in women’s rights

The Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, expressed in his motivation in offering Bangura the position that Bangura has been a decisive component in developing national action plans within the health sector in Sierra Leone. He also points out how Bangura has been a driving force in stopping female genital mutilation in Western Africa. Apart from her commitments concerning female genital mutilation, Bangura has a strong interest in women’s rights to participate, which for example has been shown in 1996, when she became the first female presidential candidate in Sierra Leone.

Bangura’s future challenges

During Margot Wallström’s time as special representative, UNSCR 1960 about neutralising impunity för perpetrators in sexual violence was adopted. What events will play out during the mandate of Bangura is uncertain, but the fact that there is much to be done in the world within the matter is obvious. An example of this can be seen in the DRC, where it is estimated that 1500 women are raped every day, and reports from several conflicts around the world claim that sexual violence violence is used as a weapon in conflict. The UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict is therefore an important post, and how Zeinab Hawa Bangura works with this issue the upcoming two years can have a major impact on women’s security in conflict in the future.

Julle Bergenholtz

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