Representatives of 16 countries across the region adopted the Dakar Declaration after a three-day forum in the Senegalese capital that considered how West Africa can better implement resolution 1325.That resolution, adopted by the Council 10 years ago this month, is considered historic for its recognition of the vital role that women can play in preventing, diminishing and ending conflicts.The Dakar Declaration stresses the need for the effective participation of women in peace processes, the protection of women and girls from conflict-related sexual violence and a reduction in conflicts through the greater involvement of women in preventive diplomacy.It also emphasizes the importance of adequate care and humanitarian services during the relief and recovery periods after conflicts, disasters or other crises.Gender ministers in West Africa have made commitments under the declaration to draw up national action plans outlining what steps they will take to implement resolution 1325 in their countries, while monitoring and evaluation mechanisms will also be set up to check what progress is being made.This process will be shepherded by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in collaboration with the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and United Nations Women (UN Women), the new UN entity dedicated to gender issues.Said Djinnit, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, attended the forum and told the UN News Centre that this week’s forum represented the first time that such issues were being discussed at the regional level.UNOWA, which Mr. Djinnit heads, organized the forum in cooperation with several other UN agencies, including the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Dakar. 17 September 2010West African countries today moved towards ensuring the equal participation and full involvement in all peace and security issues in compliance with a landmark Security Council resolution.
In a judgement issued today in The Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) also reduced the jail sentence given to Blagoje Simic, from 17 years to 15 years.The Tribunal’s appeals chamber reversed the 2003 finding by its trial chamber that Mr. Simic participated in a joint criminal enterprise with the aim of persecuting non-Serbs in the Bosanski Šamac municipality of northern Bosnia between April 1992 and December 1993.Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat civilians were detained and confined under inhumane conditions, without adequate food, water or space, and many were subject to torture, including sexual assaults, the extraction of teeth and the threat of execution.Mr. Simic, a physician by profession, served as President of the Serb Crisis Staff of Bosanski Šamac, the highest ranking civilian position in the municipality after Serbian police and paramilitary forces took over control there in April 1992.The ICTY ruled that the prosecution did not inform Mr. Simic he was being accused of participating in the joint criminal enterprise until after presenting its case, rendering the trial unfair. The conviction for persecution due to cruel and inhumane treatment in the form of torture and beating was also overturned.But a majority of the judges hearing the appeal upheld the conviction for aiding and abetting persecution in the form of unlawful arrests and detention, confinement of prisoners in inhumane conditions, forced labour and forced displacement.