"The resolution we passed today represents a step forward in our global efforts to end violence perpetrated against women and children in conflict zones," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who led the Security Council meeting.
"It is an important issue that goes to the core of our commitment to ensure the safety of the United Nations member-states and their citizens," Clinton said in her remarks before the Security Council.
She noted the council has responsibility for maintaining international peace and security.
"Now, satisfying that responsibility includes us to protect the lives and physical security of all people, including the women who comprise half the planet's population," she said.
U.S. President Barack Obama praised the unanimous vote, saying in a statement, "Today, the United States joins with the international community in sending a simple and unequivocal message: violence against women and children will not be tolerated and must be stopped."
He noted the resolution "focuses on one of the most abhorrent features of modern war: the use of rape as a weapon, and other forms of sexual violence against women and children."
The resolution establishes a system of technical experts to work with the new coordinator and support U.N. in-country teams and peacekeeping missions in addressing sexual violence.
It also asks the U.N. secretary-general to examine gaps in the organization's response to sexual violence so the Security Council can address them. Such problems could include lack of expertise on sexual violence and gender issues, or lack of support for incorporating women participating in procedures for peace talks.