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International Women's Tribune Centre




UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently appointed Sweden's Margot Wallström as SRSG as requested in Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1888. Ms Wallström will head the UN's work to combat sexual violence against women and children in conflicts zones. 'Violence against women is the most common but least punished crime in the world', she said upon her appointment, and stated that she will lobby for the recognition of sexual violence in war as a war crime. She also added that that increasing the role of women in decision-making processes will be a priority for her. 'In far too many parts of the world women are excluded from the decision-making process and from conflict resolution and peacemaking. This absolutely has to change and I am determined to play my part in making that change happen.' (Statement by Ban Ki-moon, Statement by Margot Wallström)

A Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) is appointed by the UN Secretary-General to represent him on a certain issue or in a region of particular importance to the work of the UN. The role of an SRSG is not specifically defined in the UN Charter, and has evolved throughout the history of the UN. For example, SRSGs have been appointed for fact-finding missions on matters that may threaten international peace and security, they have been mediators in peace accords, and often serve as the representative of the Secretary-General on the ground in a conflict situation. For gender justice advocates, this SRSG appointment opens a vital channel of communication to the UN Secretary-General as SRSGs often conduct widespread consultations with various stakeholders and hold meetings where interested parties, such as local groups and NGOs, can raise concerns or bring a pressing issue to their attention.

Ms Wallström brings to this position considerable expertise and experience. She is the outgoing Vice-President of the European Commission, and a former Swedish Member of Parliament and Minister, who has shown a commitment to the challenges faced by women around the world. (Margot Wallstöm's Bio)

FYI: There are currently around 90 Special Representatives and Special Envoys to the Secretary-General in the UN system. See the full list here.

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