On June 19, the U.S. used its presidency of the Security Council in June to host a thematic debate on “women, peace and security: sexual violence in situations of armed conflict.” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chaired the debate and read the following presidential statement. Secretary Rice was not the only woman seated around the table, seven others joined her representing their countries, including the Minister of Gender of Liberia, the Baroness of Scotland and the Ambassador of South Africa.

When I, along with the members of the women leaders working group, first began looking at this issue, we realized that in the 60 years of UN peacekeeping, only seven women had held the post of Special Representative to the Secretary General. You immediately took the lead in helping to address that, Mr. Secretary General. And today, Margrethe Loi of Denmark is now the Special Representative in Liberia. We applaud you for your commitment and we look forward to working with you on this critical issue.

I also want to commend all of you here today, my fellow Council members, and I want to thank a number who have traveled from very far to show their dedication to this important issue of ending the use of rape and other forms of sexual violence as instruments of warfare. Rape is a crime that can never be condoned, yet women and girls in conflict situations around the world have been subjected to widespread and deliberate acts of sexual violence. As many of you know, for years, there’s been a debate about whether or not sexual violence against women is a security issue for this forum to address.

The US is expected to introduce a new resolution that builds on the achievements of resolution 1325, focusing on sexual violence. Some speculate that this resolution was inspired by the new documentary, “The Greatest Silence” about rape in the Congo by HBO. The U.S. hosted a showing of the documentary at the UN earlier in the month.

Read an updated overview of the implementation of 1325 by the council, written by Security Council Report.

As a precursor to this debate, on May 15, 2008, the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight held a hearing, “U.N. Security Resolution 1325: Recognizing Women’s Vital Roles in Achieving Peace and Security.” The purpose of the hearing was to inform the House’s debate on House Resolution 146, which calls for US compliance to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and highlights women’s contributions to peace building and security. Read some of the hearing testimony.