(CNSNews.com) - Secretary of State John Kerry, dashing from crisis to crisis, found time on Tuesday to condemn those who use rape and other violence against women as a "tool of war."
During a discussion at the State Department on preventing sexual violence in conflict situations, Kerry called for a "moral commitment" to hold accountable those who engage in such activities:
In an "embassy-wide message," Kerry announced "that no one -- and I mean no one -- at the highest level of military or governance, who has presided over or engaged in or knew of or conducted these kinds of attacks, is ever going to receive a visa to travel into the United States of America from this day forward. We’re not going to allow that."
Kerry directed every embassy and diplomatic post to "be alert to this and to report any of these kinds of incidences."
He compared the campaign against rape to the campaign against slavery, commending those "who broke the back of slavery and other oppressive acts that were being applied to the life of people in various times in history."
Appearing with Kerry, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said his strong feelings on the subject stem from his many visits to Darfur -- "and visiting camps of displaced people and hearing about how they were raped every time they went out for firewood."
Hague said warzone rape has been documented in Bosnia, Colombia, Guatemala, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and many other countries.
"And what would it say about our societies and our civilizations if we knew those things and chose to do nothing about it?" he asked. Aside from the "moral responsibility," it's also about "preventing conflict," Hague said.
He plans to host a global summit on this issue in June -- "which will be like no summit ever before," Hague said. "It is going to go on around the clock, around the world. It is going to be open to the public. It is going to communicate digitally with people in every continent of the world. We are going to involve militaries, judiciaries. We’re going to ask governments to take practical steps to end sexual violence, to do the sort of thing we’ve done now of deploying teams of experts to areas that help to gather the evidence and make sure prosecutions can take place.
"And we’re going to do even more than that. We are going to set about changing global attitudes on this subject so that the stigma that has always been attached to the victims of these crimes is attached to the perpetrator instead."
Hague said one of his objectives for the June summit is for nations to agree on an international protocol for documenting and investigating warzone rape. "It won't be a new body of international law, but it will be an agreed way of trying to implement the laws that exist against these crimes." He said he wants countries to warn against rape as part of their military training.
Kerry said a "massive education effort" is needed to inform people that rape as a tool of war will not go unpunished. "I'm not going to tell you you can wipe it out and prevent it altogether. But boy, can you create a different attitude in people about the accountability, the hierarchy, the consequences."
"We have to end the impunity," Kerry said later. "And that will come when all of you help us to create accountability."