(New York) - The appointment of a senior official to coordinate United Nations efforts to end rape in war is an important step, Human Rights Watch said today.

"The UN has long needed a high-level focal point to address this horrific crime that so often goes unpunished during wartime chaos," said Marianne Mollmann, women's rights advocate at Human Rights Watch. "The appointment of a senior position on women in armed conflict is an important step in that direction."

The UN Security Council created the senior post on women in armed conflict in September, 2009, with a specific mandate to address sexual violence. On January 30, 2010, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced his choice of Margot Wallstrom, a Swedish politician who is currently vice-president of the European Commission. Wallstrom served three years as minister for women and youth in Sweden, and has pushed for stronger representation of women on the European Commission.

"Margot Wallstrom has a track record of commitment to the advancement of women," Mollmann said. "But even the most committed individual needs adequate resources to get the job done. UN member states should step up their support now."