King, Grand Duchess and wartime sexual violence survivors at high-level symposium on reparations

At our high-level symposium in The Hague, survivors and policy makers discussed ways how the international community can give recognition and support to victims of wartime sexual violence.

Photo on top: His Majesty King Willem-Alexander speaks to survivors of sexual violence in conflict. Photos: Mukwege Foundation/Jeppe Schilder

Survivors were at the centre of our high-level symposium on 28 November in The Hague. Together with policy makers they discussed opportunities for the international community to address the consequences of conflict-related sexual violence through reparations.

In the first panel, survivors described the obstacles to receive reparations. Semka Agic, survivor from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sylvia Acan from Uganda, as well as Feride Rushiti, Founder and Executive Director of Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for victims of Torture from Kosovo, Pilar Rueda, Founder of Red de Mujeres Víctimas y Profesionales, Colombia, and Karine Bonneau, Director of International Justice Desk at the International Federation of Human Rights explained the challenges to get acknowledgement and compensation – such as a lack of political will of governments to recognise rape survivors as victims of war, lack of evidence for a court case, or dysfunctional institutions.

Panel at the symposium: survivors and experts are explaining the obstacles in receiving reparations for wartime rape.

The International Reparations Initiative was presented by Esther Dingemans, Director of the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation, as a solution to address these issues. Together with the survivors, partners and international institutions, we are creating an innovative mechanism which responds specifically to the needs of sexual violence violence and lays the foundations for a renewed commitment of the international community to end rape as a weapon of war.

High-level policy makers at Mukwege Foundation symposium

In the second panel, Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, Martin Sørby, Ambassador of Norway to the Netherlands, and Mara Marinaki, Principal Adviser on Gender and on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security of the European External Action Service spoke about the role of states and international institutions in providing reparations.

Representatives of the International Community affirmed their willingness to support the International Reparations Initiative.

The event was enhanced by the presence of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and His Royal Highness Prince Carlos de Bourbon de Parme. In her remarks, Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg expressed her strong personal commitment to collaborate to end conflict-related sexual violence and support survivors.

Esther Dingemans, Director of the Mukwege Foundation, Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Dr Denis Mukwege, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands at a symposium on reparations organised by the Mukwege Foundation.