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FAAE Committee Report

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GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE FOURTH REPORT OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT ENTITLED “A WEAPON OF WAR: RAPE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO - CANADA’S ROLE IN TAKING ACTION AND ENDING IMPUNITY”

The Government of Canada has carefully considered the Fourth Report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (the report).

The Government would like to thank the members of the Committee for the opportunity to participate in the hearings, as well as the opportunity to respond to the recommendations contained in the report. The Government would also like to thank the Committee for its efforts in preparing the report and welcomes the continued interest of the Committee in the issues of sexual and gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

As indicated in the Standing Committee’s Fourth Report, sexual and gender-based violence is a particularly serious problem in the eastern DRC.  Conflict has been recurring in eastern DRC for the past twenty years. A large territory with divergent national and regional interests, a myriad of armed groups, a weak security sector and governance system, powerful political and economic figures, and ethnic tensions continue to fuel the fight for resources, territory, security and influence. These factors have created conditions that exacerbate the sexual and gender-based violence that is affecting women and girls in the DRC: lawlessness, absence of public services, significant movement of populations that leave many women and girls without protection and resources, and at the mercy of armed groups or rogue elements of the Congolese armed forces (FARDC). 

While successive peace agreements have temporarily improved the political and security situation, none has resolved the conflict. It remains to be seen whether the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region, signed on February 24, 2013, by the UN, the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and 11 countries from the Great Lakes Region and Southern Africa will succeed where other agreements have failed.

In November 2013, the military defeat of the M23 armed group contributed to a relative stabilization of the human rights situation in eastern DRC. Ongoing joint efforts against other armed groups, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the Forces démocratiques de liberation du Rwanda (FDLR), by the FARDC and the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), are reducing the scope of armed groups’ actions and have forced some of their members to lay down arms. However, armed groups and some elements of the FARDC still represent a serious threat to civilians and continue to commit human rights abuses, including sexual and gender-based violence.

On April 9, 2014, the United Nations (UN) joint Human Rights Office in the DRC reported that rape and sexual violence in eastern DRC remain a very serious concern and have resulted in thousands of victims over the past four years. It also indicated that, while some progress has been made in the fight again impunity for sexual violence, much more needs to be done to hold perpetrators accountable. A majority of human rights offenders are never brought to justice.  Several factors contribute to an environment where violence against women and girls can spread, in particular the absence of law enforcement, insufficient judicial infrastructure, easy access to weapons, a climate of impunity and general societal breakdown. With the support of the MONUSCO and the international community, the DRC government will have to deploy more efforts to better protect the population and assist the victims and ensure perpetrators are held accountable. This will also necessitate a change of attitude and culture, including in the FARDC and the judicial system, to ensure that perpetrators are convicted and that sentences are served. There are even more challenges ahead as there is a likelihood of further deterioration of the human rights situation in eastern DRC in the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections.

In October 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper participated in the XIVth Francophone Summit in Kinshasa, DRC. In his speech, the Prime Minister insisted that all governments without exception must guarantee their citizens good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights. The Prime Minister raised issues of human rights with members of the Congolese civil society and announced an $18.5M initiative to combat sexual violence in eastern DRC and assist the survivors in rebuilding their lives and livelihoods, and regaining their dignity.

Current and former Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Minister Baird and Minister Cannon as well as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, Deepak Obhrai and former Minister of State for La Francophonie, Bernard Valcourt, have all made public statements relating to the human rights situation in the DRC including widespread use of sexual violence as a weapon in the conflict. Some of these statements included:

•           On December 14, 2013, Parliamentary Secretary Deepak Obhrai underlined the important role that women will play in achieving justice and security needed to prevent women and girls from falling victim to these heinous crimes. He also called on all parties to ensure that women are included as key interlocutors in its resolution.

•           On November 20, 2012, Minister Baird called all parties in eastern DRC to respect human rights.

•           On September 14, 2012, Minister Baird condemned the actions of the M23 armed group, including rape and violence against women.

•           On June 28, 2012, former Minister of State for La Francophonie Bernard Valcourt encouraged reforms in the DRC. 

•           On May 4, 2012, Minister Baird condemned cases of rape and sexual violence in eastern DRC.

•           On February 25, 2011, former Minister Cannon welcomed the conviction of high ranking officers for mass rape in eastern DRC.

On April 29, 2014, Canada expressed its concern about the scale of sexual and gender-based violence to the DRC authorities during the 19th Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group. Canada also described its efforts to fight sexual violence and assist thousands of survivors. 

On December 15, 2011, as Co-Chair of the Group of Special Envoys and Friends of the ICGLR, Canada delivered a strong statement to the 4th ICGLR Summit in Kampala, Uganda. Canada reiterated its concerns about the use of sexual violence against women and girls as a tactic of war to humiliate and destroy communities. Canada also insisted on the importance of regional solutions in order to bring perpetrators to justice, restore the rule of law, promote security sector reforms and ensure services for the survivors.

The Government of Canada, through the Canadian Embassy in Kinshasa, DRC, has regular exchanges with the Government of the DRC on a range of human rights issues, including sexual and gender-based violence.  Canada also makes its positions and concerns known to the DRC through multilateral fora, including La Francophonie and the UN Human Rights Council.  Given the substantial UN presence in the DRC, Canada collaborates with donors and other members of the international community with a field presence on projects and initiatives that benefit the DRC and involve its government.

Recommendation 1

That the Government of Canada continue to make the promotion and protection of women’s human rights a foreign policy priority, and that it work to strengthen women’s participation in securing, maintaining and consolidating international peace and security.

The Government of Canada agrees to this recommendation. The Government of Canada is continuing to advocate for the empowerment of women in decision-making processes, including in peace processes. The Government will encourage the full and equal participation of women in international peace and security, and encourage new governments in fragile states and in countries in transition to democracy to increase the number of women in key leadership and decision-making positions. Furthermore, the Government of Canada will reiterate with partners the need to prevent violence against women and girls in conflict and fragile situations and to provide protection to women and girls, including from sexual violence. This is consistent with Canada’s 2013 endorsement of the G8 Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict and the 2013 Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The Government of Canada will examine how Canadian leadership can be enhanced to support women and girls through harmonization across our agendas on eliminating violence against women; women, peace and security; trafficking in women and girls; maternal, newborn and child health; and child, early and forced marriage. These priorities not only show an emphasis on the human rights of women and girls, they also share a common focus on building community resilience and support for survivors of violence.

Recommendation 2

That the Government of Canada continue to take a leadership role in international efforts to foster the effective implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security in the context of United Nations operations and in United Nations Member States .

The Government of Canada agrees to this recommendation. The Government of Canada will continue to take a leadership role in international efforts to effectively implement the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, including by continuing its leadership advocacy and coordination role as Chair of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security at the UN in New York. The Government of Canada will make every effort to achieve the UN Secretary-General’s target of 20% women for police deployments to UN peace operations, including actively encouraging women to apply for assignments to peace operations. Canada will continue to support the UN’s zero-tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse by deployed personnel. Additionally, the Government of Canada will continue to promote the importance of women’s participation among other UN Member States, through its advocacy in multilateral fora and bilateral promotion.

Recommendation 3

That the Government of Canada continue to speak out clearly and strongly, on a consistent basis, in support of survivors of sexual violence and against their stigmatization and marginalization in society.

The Government of Canada agrees to this recommendation. The Government has been clear in public statements in its support for survivors of sexual violence and has championed the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. The Government of Canada will continue to speak out in international fora, including at the UN Security Council and through the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, in support of survivors of sexual violence.

Furthermore, the Government of Canada supports survivors of sexual violence, through programming to ensure the safety, health and dignity of survivors, that their physical, psycho-social and legal needs are being met, their economic empowerment, and reconciliation of their communities.

In the past eight years, Canada’s Stabilization and Reconstruction Taskforce (START), contributed more than $19M for projects specifically related to sexual and gender-based violence in the DRC and other countries including Colombia, Afghanistan and South Sudan. In 2013, Minister Baird announced a further $5M for projects to prevent sexual violence in conflict, for example to support the documentation and prosecution of sexual violence crimes. Canadian development programming includes $18.5M (2013-2018) to help bring perpetrators to account and address the needs of survivors of sexual violence in the DRC.

Recommendation 4

That the Government of Canada continue its important efforts to combat forced and early marriage around the world, and that, in connection with this work, Canada consider ways to generate international action to improve the situation of conflict-affected girls forced into marriage or sexual slavery by armed groups.

The government of Canada agrees to this recommendation. Ending the practice of child, early and forced marriage is a foreign policy and development priority for Canada. Canada has played an important role in bringing global attention and action to ending this harmful practice worldwide. For example, Canada led the initiative to establish the International Day of the Girl Child in 2011, which in its first year focused on child, early and forced marriage. Additionally, Canada played a leadership role in the development of the first-ever stand-alone resolutions on child, early and forced marriage at the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly in the fall of 2013. Both resolutions were adopted by consensus with over 100 co-sponsors, putting this issue firmly on the international agenda for the first time. Canada has also intensified its programming efforts to address child, early and forced marriage. In October 2013 a $5 million commitment was made to support programming that addresses the causes and consequences of child, early and forced marriage in high-prevalence countries around the world, with initial programming undertaken in Ghana, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Somalia and Zimbabwe. Canada will work closely with like-minded partners toward meaningful inclusion of child, early and forced marriage in the post-2015 development agenda, which will establish a framework for international development cooperation until 2030.  

Canada continues to consider ways to generate international action to improve the situation of conflict-affected girls forced into marriage or sexual slavery by armed groups. Canada established and chairs the Group of Friends on Children and Armed Conflict, an informal New York-based network of over 38 member states. Members of the group have formed a united front to press for more robust action by the UN Security Council, including sanctions to hold perpetrators accountable for committing grave violations against girls and boys. Furthermore, Canada has provided funding for projects that aim to prevent sexual violence in conflict zones, and is committed to intensifying our efforts to help end this practice worldwide.

Recommendation 5

That the Government of Canada continue to express its expectation to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that the latter take concrete action to halt the systematic use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. In particular, Canada should press the Congolese government to make progress in the following areas:

reducing gender inequality by ensuring the full and equal participation of women in all aspects of society, including in peace and security-building activities and in economic activities;

• strengthening the justice system to hold perpetrators of sexual violence to account and to remove barriers to access to justice;

• improving disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs to ensure they address and respond to the needs of women and girls formerly associated with armed groups;

• continuing work to reform the security sector, while ensuring that the Congolese armed forces act in compliance with international humanitarian law and cooperate fully with United Nations forces in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo; and,

• bringing natural resource extraction under the transparent and accountable regulation of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a manner that respects the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and which ensures that the Congolese people are the primary beneficiaries of the country’s vast resource wealth.

Recommendation 6

That the Government of Canada convey to the parties to the armed conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, through appropriate channels, the important role that survivors of sexual violence play in ensuring long-term security and justice; and that the Government of Canada continue to call for all parties to the conflict to ensure the active and equal participation of women in the resolution of the conflict.

Recommendation 7

That the Government of Canada encourage the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to undertake a review of national law with a view to repealing or abolishing any legislation, regulation or other law that continues to discriminate against women or girls.

Recommendation 11

That the Government of Canada continue to take appropriate steps to protect and support those who work with survivors of sexual violence in particular, and human rights defenders more generally, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in other situations of conflict and crisis.

The Government of Canada takes note of these recommendations. Canada will continue to press the Government of the DRC to make progress on the elements suggested.  This will be done through specific diplomatic démarches as well as through ongoing regular political dialogue with all levels of government. Canada follows a strategic approach based on equality between men and women in its interventions in the DRC. Canada is actively engaged in policy dialogue around this issue through its membership in the Gender Thematic Group, a coordination body between the Government of the DRC and stakeholders, and its co-leadership with the DRC Ministry of Gender of the sub-group on sexual violence.

At the Francophonie Summit in Kinshasa in October 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated Canada’s commitment to the fight against sexual violence by announcing the project Fight against Impunity and Support to Survivors of Sexual Violence . The initiative builds upon results of Canada’s engagement in this area since 2006 and helps fight impunity by increasing access to justice in underserved areas, establishing appropriate mechanisms to investigate sexual crimes and prosecute offenders, and building the capacity and independence of judicial personnel. It builds the capacity of government and civil society organizations to continue to meet the medical, legal, psychological and training needs of survivors and increases the involvement of communities in preventing sexual and gender-based violence. The $18.5M initiative, which runs from 2013 to 2018, is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Canada is encouraging the Government of the DRC to review its national legislation in order to eliminate discrimination against women and to respect women’s human rights. As part of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the DRC in 2009 and in 2014, Canada recommended that the Government of the DRC arrest and bring to justice those who perpetrate sexual violence. Canada also recommended expediting the reform of the judiciary and the security system to improve access to justice and the protection of the population as part of a national strategy to fight violence against women or girls. Furthermore, Canada recommended that women’s rights be specifically taken into account in a broader national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration program. Finally, through the same process, Canada asked the Congolese delegation, to explain how the country intends to respond to the MONUSCO report of April 2014 on progress and obstacles in the fight against sexual violence.

Through the Centre d’étude et de Coopération internationale (CECI), Canada supports the work of the Concertation des Collectifs des Associations Féminines de la Région des Grands Lacs (COCAFEM/GL) which brings together eleven experienced women’s organizations from Burundi, the DRC and Rwanda to address women's rights and to promote peace. The project supports local ownership in the planning and implementation of concerted action to change behaviour, improve protection of rights related to violence, and improve the quality of services to victims.

Canada also actively participates in the dialogue around the implementation of the Peace and Security Framework alongside the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General Mary Robinson. The Special Envoy, has set up a platform involving several women’s groups to ensure that women participate in regional stabilisation efforts. 

Through the Learning on Gender and Conflict in Africa (LOGiCA) Program, Canada contributed to the delivery of technical assistance to national programs for disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of ex-combatants to help them carry out new initiatives and incorporate gender-sensitive activities in their ongoing initiatives in a number of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including the DRC. This program supported a feasibility study to evaluate how to establish a regional training facility for the prevention of sexual violence. Canada also supported advocacy efforts of the COCAFEM/GL during the Special Session on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) held as part of the ICGLR Heads of State Summit in December 2011 resulting in 70% of their concerns being integrated into the Summit’s Declaration. Canada continues to support the COCAFEM/GL through the Project to Combat Violence Against Girls and Young Women in the Great Lakes Region . The $13.5M initiative, in existence since 2010, ends in 2017.

Canada recognizes that resource-rich developing countries seek to harness their resources to achieve economic growth and poverty reduction. However, extractive operations often take place in complex operating environments, including in countries with weak governance capacity and where corruption and conflict are prevalent. The Government of Canada, alongside Canadian companies and civil society organizations, has shown significant leadership in developing and advancing responsible resource development and transparent governance in the extractive sector globally, with a view to ensuring that citizens benefit from generated resource wealth. Through Canada’s participation in multi-stakeholder initiatives and the advocacy of our diplomatic missions abroad, the government also promotes the operationalization of relevant normative frameworks and standards, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which has helped better define the roles and responsibilities of states and corporate actors in this area.

Canada helped establish the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF), the only global forum focussed on addressing mineral and mining governance challenges and opportunities. The IGF brings together mining officials in developing countries, trading partners and donors, in addition to civil society organisations and mining companies, to advance issues of mutual concern, such as international standards and leading practices in extractive sector management and governance. Canada exercises global leadership through the IGF as the primary donor and Secretariat, and as a bridge builder among developing country, industry and civil society representatives. The Mining Policy Framework developed by the IGF Member countries provides specific guidance to countries on structuring a comprehensive resource governance regime that advances sustainable development.

Canada is a supporting country in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which seeks to increase transparency in oil, gas, and mining sectors through the implementation of standards related to the publication and verification of company tax, royalty payments, and other government revenues. Canada is a leading donor to the World Bank-administered Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF), which seeks to advance EITI implementation in developing countries. While the DRC is currently seeking to revalidate its candidacy to the EITI, it has received two grants from the EITI-MDTF in support of technical advice, capacity building, mentoring, and regional workshops. Canada also contributes to the World Bank’s Extractive Industries Technical Advisory Facility, a multi-donor trust fund that assists countries to correctly structure extractive industry transactions and related sector policies. The DRC has not received any support from the EI-TAF.

With DFATD funding (2010-2013), the Canadian NGO Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) has been largely responsible for the design of the ICGLR Mineral Certification Scheme which aims at certifying the origin of mineral, obliging actors to extract, transport and export “conflict-free” minerals, and encouraging international buyers to resume trade. At the end of 2013, DRC and Rwanda issued their first ICGLR certificates.

Recommendation 8

That, in its international assistance programming in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Government of Canada consider continuing to support initiatives aimed at providing medical and other forms of assistance to survivors of sexual violence; that the apportionment of Canadian assistance be reviewed with a view to considering the possibility of funding smaller, grass-roots programs ─ potentially in partnership with larger non-governmental organizations; and that the Government of Canada also consider continuing its support for security and justice sector reform initiatives, prosecutions of alleged perpetrators of sexual violence, and extractive resources governance and tracing regimes.

The Government of Canada takes note of this recommendation. Canada has been involved in the fight against sexual violence in the DRC since 2006, having provided over 60,000 survivors of sexual violence medical and psychological assistance and trained over 15,000 survivors to acquire new skills and sustain income generating activities. Canada’s support also helped lead to over 800 convictions of perpetrators of such heinous acts. These results were achieved through Canada’s support to the project Fight against Sexual Violence , an $18M initiative implemented by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) from 2006 to 2013.

Through its ongoing, needs-based humanitarian assistance funding, Canada is supporting efforts to provide medical assistance, psycho-social support, and protection to survivors of sexual violence in the DRC. In 2014, Canada has provided support to organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) ($4M), Médecins Sans Frontières ($1.5M), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees ($1M), and UNICEF ($3M), each of which is addressing the issues of rape and sexual violence as part of its response to the crisis. For example, UNICEF provides a comprehensive package of medical, psycho-social, and legal support to survivors of sexual violence in the DRC, having reached 8,270 people in 2013. In the same period, the ICRC provided psychological support to 4,544 victims of sexual violence at 40 ICRC-supported counselling centres in North and South Kivu and referred 2,205 people for treatment at ICRC-supported health facilities. An additional $5M was provided to the ICRC in 2014 to specifically improve its capacity to prevent and reduce sexual violence in five countries, including the DRC.


This assistance to the DRC is complemented by funding to improve the humanitarian system's overall response to sexual and gender-based violence. Canada has provided support to International Organization for Migration ($1M) to strengthen field-level collaboration between the Camp Coordination and Camp Management and the Global Protection clusters, with a focus on incorporating protection  - especially as related to gender-based violence - into Camp Coordination and Camp Management tools. Support provided to UNFPA ($3M) is aimed at building the capacity of the system to prevent sexual and gender-based violence, and improve the quality and accessibility of gender-based violence-related services during humanitarian crises.

Canadian assistance to the DRC through Partnerships for Innovation and Development includes support to Canadian organizations that partner with local organizations to implement grassroots projects. These projects respond to local development needs, particularly those of marginalized populations. A key role Canadian organizations have is to build the local partners’ staff capacity to self-manage their organizations to ensure project results’ sustainability. In 2013, the Government of Canada disbursed $4.5M in support of six Canadian organizations implementing seven projects with their local partners. Examples of supported activities include one project that works with victims of sexual violence and another one working to build communities’ confidence in local democratic institutions in areas affected by the recent conflicts.
 
Canada also supported two projects on security and justice sector reform in the DRC. One such project addressed the issue of women peace and security by improving multi-sectoral responses to sexual and gender-based violence and the protection of children through the reform and increased capacity of security sector forces and judicial institutions, including the military, police and civilian branches. It also enhanced national and provincial capacities to address the causes, manifestations and impacts of sexual and gender-based violence and ensure the protection of children. The Child Protection and Prevention of Sexual Gender-Based Violence project was funded through World Vision in partnership with the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre and the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies. The Congolese National Police was funded through Search for Common Ground, a conflict prevention and conflict resolution NGO that seeks to transform conflict into cooperative action, to implement multimedia training tools that enabled them to promote respect for human rights and to combat sexual and gender based violence. The project focused on the role of military justice and the police, in the fight against sexual violence and the protection and security of people.

In addition, Canada also funded other projects with sexual and gender-based violence as a cross cutting theme. Through the Cellules d'appui à la poursuite judiciaire et militaire project, nearly $3M over two years was provided for the creation of support cells for judicial and military prosecutions in order to reinforce and strengthen the capacities of Congolese authorities to bring those responsible for sexual violence to justice. The cells aimed to mentor and provide expertise in military and civilian judicial authorities during the conduct of their investigations and in prosecutions. The project Appui aux institutions judiciaires et pénitentiaires des provinces de l'Est de la RDC was implemented with the UNDP and MONUSCO to strengthen the organizational and functional judicial and penal institutions to enable the legal repression of crime in conflict zones.

Canada will explore ways to support extractive resources governance and tracing regimes in the DRC and the wider region. Canada strongly supports international efforts to sever the link between natural resources and conflict, and to advance initiatives that help extractive sector companies respect human rights. As a founding member of the Kimberley Process, Canada remains fully supportive of its objectives to increase accountability, transparency and effective governance of the trade in rough diamonds. Given the relevance of our diamond sector, as well as the susceptibility of the industry as a whole to reputational risks, Canada is a strong advocate for improved collaboration on enforcement of the certification scheme among member countries, including the DRC, as well as broader reform efforts to ensure the continued relevance and credibility of the Kimberley Process as a whole.

By leveraging Canadian leadership and expertise, the Government of Canada is seeking to promote and advance our engagement on the broader issue of conflict minerals, including through our ongoing support for the due diligence guidance on responsible mineral supply chains developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). These activities build on our work related to extractive sector governance and responsible business conduct, and link with Canada’s commercial and development interests abroad related to the extractive sector. Activities include targeted outreach efforts to Canadian companies to promote the importance of due diligence with all actors along the supply chain and to assist them in the implementation thereof. This approach aligns with the government’s dual objectives of addressing conflict minerals, and encouraging responsible investment activity by corporations operating in developing countries, including in conflict-affected and fragile areas, like the DRC.

Recommendation 9

That, in its international assistance programming in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Government of Canada consider the possibility of supporting initiatives that provide training in fundraising, governance and accounting techniques to local non-governmental organizations in order to properly equip them to effectively lead local advocacy efforts.

The Government of Canada agrees with this recommendation. Canada strengthens the capacity and the leadership of the women’s organizations members of the COCAFEM/GL and helps to increase the impact of their advocacy work to combat sexual violence and end impunity. The $13.5M project implemented by the CECI also provides training on funds mobilization to the member organizations and support to COCAFEM/GL’s governance structure. Through the Project to Fight Sexual Violence implemented by the UNFPA from 2006 to 2013, Canada has built the capacity of Congolese NGOs by providing training in accounting techniques and governance. Canada will continue to provide such training through the project Fight against Impunity and Support to Survivors of Sexual Violence (2013-2018).

Canadian assistance to the DRC includes support to Canadian organizations that partner with local organizations to implement grassroots projects. These projects respond to local development needs, particularly those of marginalized populations. A key role Canadian organizations have is to build the local partners’ staff capacity to self-manage their organizations to ensure project results sustainability. In 2013, the Government of Canada disbursed $4.5M in support of six Canadian organizations implementing seven projects with their local partners. Examples of supported activities include one project that works with victims of sexual violence and another one working to build communities’ confidence in local democratic institutions in areas affected by the recent conflicts.

Recommendation 10

That, in its international assistance programming, the Government of Canada consider ways to work with United Nations agencies and likeminded donor countries to strengthen partnerships with local organizations involved in addressing the problem of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in other situations of conflict and crisis

The Government of Canada agrees with this recommendation. Canada was instrumental in the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security and in ensuring that sexual and gender-based crimes were included in the draft Statute for the International Criminal Court. Canada was a strong proponent of the 2013 G8 Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict. At the UN General Assembly that followed in September 2013, Minister Baird championed the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict which was subsequently endorsed by more than 140 countries. Canada will also be an active participant at the June 2014 Global Summit on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict in London, UK.

Canada is actively engaged with other donors and with the UN, including the Gender Unit of MONUSCO, within existing coordination mechanisms in the DRC both in the justice sector and on matters pertaining to sexual and gender-based violence. In 2014, Canada and the DRC’s Ministry of Gender will co-lead the Sexual and gender-based violence sub-group of the Gender Thematic Group. Co-leadership presents an opportunity for Canada to further work with other donors, representatives of UN organizations, civil society organizations and the private sector to coordinate plans and programs for stronger partnerships and better resource allocation in the sector, in support of the implementation of DRC’s National Strategy to combat sexual and gender-based violence.

The Canada-funded Project to Fight Sexual Violence implemented by the UNFPA from 2006 to 2013, and the project Fight against Impunity and Support to Survivors of Sexual Violence being implemented by UNDP (2013-2018) worked and will continue to work closely with local organizations involved in addressing the problem of sexual violence. Canada is also helping to combat and prevent violence against girls and young women in the Great Lakes region. Canada’s implementing partner, the CECI, works with the COCAFEM/GL.  

Through these projects, Canada contributes to strengthening coordination and partnerships among all stakeholders involved in preventing and fighting sexual violence, notably provincial authorities, local administrations, the judicial system, police forces, civil society organizations and communities. Initiatives funded by Canada aim to strengthen local capacity for the responsibility to fight such crimes to be fully owned by Congolese authorities and the society in general.

Canada is also involved in fighting gender-based violence in other situations of conflict and crisis, including Afghanistan. In partnership with the UNFPA, Canada is addressing violence against women and girls through the Addressing Violence against Women and Girls for Internally Displaced Persons in Nangarhar Project ($416,520, 2013-2014). The project trains experts and practitioners and raises awareness of gender-based violence among displaced and returnee communities in Nangarhar. The project will also develop and improve information management systems for improved data collection about cases of gender-based violence. In doing so, it will improve the provision of services for 9,900 survivors (5,300 women and 4,600 girls) of gender-based violence.

Canada strongly supports the implementation of the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) Law in Afghanistan. The EVAW law, which was passed by presidential decree in 2009 criminalizes, for the first time, child marriage, forced marriage, selling and buying women and girls, giving away women or girls to settle disputes, forced self-immolation, and 17 other acts including rape and beating. Canada’s long-term support to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) contributed to the AIHRC’s ability to investigate approximately 28,000 complaints of cases of violence against women from 2002 to 2013.

Recommendation 12

That the Government of Canada continue working to ensure that Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security is implemented in all relevant policies and programming; that, in order to provide timely and robust public progress reports, the Government of Canada continue to make efforts to address challenges associated with collecting data and reporting across government departments, which undertake their activities under diverse mandates, policies and processes; and that the Government of Canada consult with civil society organizations during evaluations and reviews of the National Action Plan.

The Government of Canada agrees with this recommendation. The Government announced Canada’s Action Plan for the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security in 2010 for 2011-2016. The Government is implementing the Action Plan and has tabled two annual public progress reports on the Action Plan in Parliament. The Government of Canada has started a mid-term review of the Action Plan to consider opportunities to improve implementation and progress measurement under the Action Plan. The Government is committed to improving data collection and reporting across government departments, including by examining opportunities presented by the 2013 amalgamation of DFAIT and CIDA into the new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. The Government of Canada will continue to consult civil society organizations, such as the Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada, including on the implementation of the Action Plan.