Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chief of Australian Army on Protection of Women in Conflict

Greetings from the Australian National University where Lieutenant General David Morrison AO, the Chief of Army is speaking on "Protection of women in conflict: Chief of Army discusses the London Global Summit".  General  Morrison's "Chief of Army message regarding unacceptable behaviour" went viral on the Internet last year. Gender restrictions on combat roles were removed from the Australian Defence Force, 1 January 2013. There is also a "Defence Abuse Response Taskforce".

In person the General was a little milder than the video, but just as compelling. He made the point that the Army is authorised by the state to use violence, but should respect the diversity of the community. The Army has set targets for women's participation (I have noted this in the café at ADFA). The General was asked why all the Expert Panel members for the 2015 Defence White Paper are white males. The general responded that they had a point and would raise it with the Minister. The General was asked what practical steps were being implemented to involve local women when the ADF is on peacekeeping missions. He made the point that having female front-line troops would aid this and all receive relevant training.

There was a "Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict" in London on in June 2014. There is a Chair’s Summary, Statement of Action and Summit blog. Curiously, the UK Government have "archived" the website, as if the event is over and they can forget about it now.
Armed conflicts are currently occurring in various regions of the world and the need to protect innocent victims of these conflicts has never been greater. Women are particularly vulnerable in times of conflict and the recent Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, co-chaired by William Hague (United Kingdom Foreign Secretary) and Angelina Jolie (Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees) brought together 1,700 delegates and 129 country delegations to consider ways in which women could be better protected. The Summit agreed on practical steps to tackle impunity for the use of rape as a weapon of war, and to begin to change global attitudes to these crimes.

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