UNITED NATIONS — The United States will not support a peace in Afghanistan or any conflict zone that sacrifices women's rights, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday.
Clinton also said the mass rape of hundreds of women in Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this year was a "tragic rebuke" of international efforts to help women caught in conflict zones.
Women's involvement in peacemaking efforts is now a "necessary global security imperative," the US secretary of state told a special UN Security Council debate on women and security.
Clinton -- to many observers the world's most powerful woman -- highlighted US efforts to reinforce women's representation in Afghanistan, where US-led international forces are battling the Taliban militia which repressed women when in power.
"We believe the potential for sustainable peace will be subverted if women are silenced or marginalized," Clinton said. "No peace that sacrifices women's rights is a peace that we can afford to support."
The debate was held on the 10th anniversary of a landmark UN Security Council resolution 1325 which called for the greater involvement of women in ending conflict and greater protection for women and girls in wars.
"There is no starker reminder of the work still ahead of us than the horrific mass rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo last summer," Clinton said.
Hundreds of women were raped by militia and rebels in late July and early August. UN peacekeepers were criticized for not doing more to help them.
"Those rapes and our failure as an international community to bring that conflict to an end and protect women and children in the process stands as a tragic rebuke to our efforts thus far."
She called on the international community to take stronger action to bring to justice those who carry out "these horrible violations of human rights" and "those who permit them to do so."
Despite international action to give special training to DR Congo soldiers to counter sexual violence, Clinton said: "Unfortunately there is not the will either in the DRC itself or in the UN or the international community to help bring about an end to impunity."
A Security Council presidential statement vowed "enhanced" efforts to bring to justice those who attack women and girls and appealed for greater numbers of women peacekeepers in international forces.
It also called a new review meeting in five years time, which brought a new rebuke from Clinton.
"Well we had better have more to report and we had better have accomplished more between now and then, otherwise there will be those who lose faith in our international capacity to respond to such an overwhelming need," she said.
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