A Broken U.N. Promise in Congo (June 2009)

BUKAVU, Democratic Republic of Congo — Just over a year ago, in answering whether sexual violence in conflict was an issue that the U.N. Security Council should take on, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice proclaimed, “I am proud that, today, we respond to that lingering question with a resounding ‘yes!’ ” With this statement, and with the cooperation of other power brokers at the table, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1820, which finally recognized sexual violence as a widely used strategy of warfare and cleared the path for the council to respond to it worldwide.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is to report to the Security Council today on implementation of Resolution 1820. What will we learn? A year after adopting the resolution, Congo remains the worst place on the planet to be a woman. Over 12 years, in a regional economic war for resources, hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been raped and tortured, their bodies destroyed by unimaginable acts. The Security Council’s implementation of Resolution 1820 in Congo — the very place that inspired it — has been an utter failure.