Press Releases

12 November 2002


NEW YORK, 11 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 25 November 2002:

Women continue to be victims of all forms of violence -- in every region, country and culture, regardless of income, class, race or ethnicity. But in the past year, the issue has gained much-needed attention in the international community. Violence against women was on the agenda of the Second World Assembly on Ageing, which recognized that older women face a greater risk of physical and psychological abuse, and at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which acknowledged the importance of eliminating all forms of violence and discrimination against women. The General Assembly’s special session on children indicated the determination of all nations to promote all human rights of girls, including the right to live free from coercion, harmful practices and sexual exploitation.

This year also saw the entry into force of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, which establishes jurisdiction to try crimes of sexual violence as crimes against humanity when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed at any civilian population. An expert group meeting was convened on the issue of trafficking in women and girls -- the fastest-growing form of transnational organized crime -- in preparation for consideration of women’s human rights and elimination of all forms of violence against women by the Commission on the Status of Women next year. And last month, I presented a report on women, peace and security to the Security Council, coinciding with the second anniversary of the Council’s adoption of resolution 1325.

Clearly, the world is achieving greater awareness and understanding of gender-based violence, and more effective measures are being developed to confront it. But much more remains to be done to create and sustain an environment where women can go about their lives free from this scourge. On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, let us rededicate ourselves to that mission.

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