3 February 2010The United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office has joined forces with a network of over a dozen other UN entities to prevent sexual violence in armed conflict and respond effectively to the needs of survivors. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in response to calls from women’s groups, rape survivors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), formed the inter-agency network known as UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict in 2008.The network brings together experts on various issues, including peacekeeping, HIV/AIDS and human rights, to help stop rape and other sexual crimes in conflict-ridden countries. Assistant-Secretary General for Peacebuilding Support Judy Cheng-Hopkins said joining the network will help the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) cross-reference with 12 other UN entities and close the gap on how to prevent the scourge of sexual violence in conflict and better help survivors. “Women are entitled to full and equal participation in all peacebuilding processes, and there is a need to address the impact of sexual violence on their capacity to participate,” she stated. Her office was set up to support the efforts of the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), which was established in 2005 to help struggling States avoid slipping back into war and chaos. There are currently four countries on its agenda – Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic (CAR).In addition to support from the PBC, countries can also avail themselves of financial assistance from the Peacebuilding Fund to jump-start rebuilding projects.Efforts to combat sexual and gender-based violence have been reflected in the work of both bodies. For example, the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in the CAR, adopted last May, includes important commitments for the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, including the provision of human rights training for security forces, as well as identification and support to victims of violence.In addition, the Peacebuilding Fund currently funds 12 projects to support women affected by conflict, including in Liberia, where it supports the improvement of prosecution services targeting crimes of sexual and gender-based violence, among other things. In a related development, Mr. Ban has announced the appointment of Margot Wallström of Sweden as his Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.This comes in response to a request made by the Security Council last September for the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Representative to provide coherent and strategic leadership to address sexual violence in armed conflict.