UNITED NATIONS, June 19 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called for an end to violence against women and girls in armed conflicts.
Ban made the appeal while addressing a Security Council debate chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose country holds the 15-member body's presidency for this month.
"An increasing and alarming number of women and girls are falling victim to sexual violence in conflict," Ban said. "But we can and must push back."
He said he will soon appoint a Messenger of Peace tasked entirely with advocacy for ending violence against women.
Ban urged the council to adopt resolutions with "strong language on sexual and gender-based violence," so that "the UN can respond more forcefully."
"Let us ensure that all future mandates have clear provisions on protecting women and children in conflicts," he said.
Referring to the all-female Indian civil police unit in Liberia as a possible model, Ban said when member states send the UN qualified personnel, it can demonstrate the central role of women in restoring stability to war-ravaged countries.
He added that he needs member states to come forward with more women candidates.
"Let me be clear: the United Nations, and I personally, are profoundly committed to a zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation or abuse by our own personnel," he asserted.
"We must do far more to involve women in conflict prevention, peace negotiations and recovery after the guns fall silent," he said.
"By creating a culture that punishes violence and elevates women to their rightful role, we can lay the foundation for lasting stability, where women are not victims of violence, but agents of peace," the UN chief added.