|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6722nd Meeting (AM & PM)
Security Council Presidential Statement Condemns Sexual Violence in Conflict,
Post-conflict Situations, Urges Complete, Immediate Cessation of Such Acts
Top UN Official, Briefing, Says Council Steps against Such Violence
Tells Rape Victims Their Lives Matter, Perpetrators ‘the World Is Watching’
Deeply concerned about incidents, trends and patterns of sexual violence in armed conflict and post conflict situations, the Security Council today condemned such violence, as well as all violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, and urged the complete and immediate cessation of such acts.
Adopting a statement at the conclusion of a day-long meeting convened to examine the Secretary-General’s report on conflict-related sexual violence — which, for the first time, explicitly names military forces, militia and other armed groups suspected of being among the worst offenders — the Council noted with concern that civilians were being deliberately targeted for sexual violence “for political motivations, and its use as a tactic of war”, among other ways.
The Council stressed the importance of prevention, early warning and effective response to sexual violence when it was used as a tactic of war or as part of widespread attack against civilian populations. The Council was concerned that sexual violence disproportionately affected women and girls, while also affecting men and boys. Such acts not only severely undermined the critical contribution of women to society, but also challenged inclusive and sustainable peace processes, the Council stated.
Following the Council’s action, Margot Wallström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, welcomed the statement, saying that “if any issue should unite us, it is this one.” During her briefing to the Council earlier in the day, she encouraged the 15-nation body to continue building on its already notable body of work in the area, as Council action tells rape victims their lives matter, and tells perpetrators — and potential perpetrators — that “the world is watching.”
As she presented the Secretary-General’s report, which listed the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), armed militia groups and former armed forces in Côte d’Ivoire, and the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo among those “credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence”, she praised the Council for leading the way in recognizing the “strategic twist” rape acquired as a tactic of war; the more brutal and shocking the crime, the more effectively it humiliated and terrorized communities into submission.
Indeed, modern warfare was altering commonplace activities in appalling ways: it was entering the marketplaces where women traded; following children home from school; haunting prison cells where political activists were detained. “It has become more dangerous to be a woman fetching water or collecting firewood than a fighter on the frontline,” she said, and explained that the report described “shocking” examples of sexual violence as a threat to security and an impediment to peacebuilding.
“No one can read this report and remain unmoved,” she continued, stressing that through “naming and shaming” it became an instrument which, in the hands of political leaders, could help track and address sexual violence that was linked with insecurity. She characterized the report as a vital “historical record”, because the history of rape had been a history of denial. That history had been suppressed chiefly because the victim rather than the attacker was most often shamed and stigmatized. Perhaps it was because rape was treated as a “lesser evil” in the context of war.
“Whatever the explanation, every speaker who adds their voice to this debate is helping to end centuries of silence that have made rape an effective ‘secret weapon’,” she said, stressing that from the Congo to Cambodia, and Bosnia to Liberia, such crimes had been neglected at the peace table and stricken from the public record. Indeed, as children borne of rape were coming of age in Rwanda and struggling to find their way in society, one thing was becoming clear; “rape is not over when it’s over,” she said, adding that the point of international efforts to thwart the crime was to “give rape a history, in order to deny its future”.
Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the conflict-related sexual violence mandate was among the most demanding in peacekeeping. Giving an overview of progress, he said the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) had worked with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to develop Terms of Reference for women’s protection advisers to be placed in missions.
Guidance had been developed on monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements, he said, which should improve the prevention and programming responses. In Timor-Leste, Liberia, Haiti and Darfur, United Nations police were supporting national police in the development of spaces to receive survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. Three such spaces were being launched this month in “at risk” camps in Haiti. Work was under way with police-contributing countries to develop “training of trainer” modules to standardize the investigation of sexual and gender-based violence.
But ultimately, the main responsibility for civilian protection lay with the host Government. “Missions cannot act as a surrogate for State authority,” he said, calling on States to fund women’s protection advisers with a view to enhancing implementation of monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements and the sexual violence mandate. He also called on police- and troop-contributors to increase the number of women in national security forces.
Also briefing the Council was Amina Megheirbi, of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, who said the Security Council’s leadership was essential to the global effort to prevent conflict-related sexual violence. She recalled that, in 2010, after mass rapes in Walikale, Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Council had urged that all steps be taken to prevent such outrages in the future. Yet, given the political, technical and financial resources required, she questioned whether any real action had been taken, and she urged all actors to address the root causes of such violence, such as gender inequality and political exclusion.
Further, when prevention efforts failed, survivors must be the priority of all service provision and protection, she said, through a “survivor-centric approach that encompassed medical, psycho-social and legal service provision, as well as effective avenues for reparations and redress. Service and protection strategies must be designed in full consultation with women, with attention focused on displaced women and girls. In addition, survivors deserved nothing less than justice and an end to impunity. Accountability must be included at every stage, from ceasefire agreements to post-conflict reconstruction.
More than 50 speakers took the floor during the Council’s debate, with most praising Ms. Wallström’s work and the Secretary-General’s report. The representative of the United States said the Council now had before it specific names, places and dates regarding patterns of systematic sexual violence, “making it clear that this is a security issue, not a women’s issue”, that must be tackled with the same early warning and preventive measures as other threats. Recognizing that “inaction could send a wrong message that sexual violence is tolerated,” Botswana’s representative said it was important to demonstrate commitment and political will by prosecuting those responsible.
Ireland’s representative said the challenge “is to ensure that our outrage translates into determined and purposeful action, yielding early and measureable results”. The crimes outlined in the report were surrounded by taboos and silence; consistently underreported, and even when they were, they were unlikely to be followed up. “If there is any chance of penetrating this darkness, we need a strong and unwavering searchlight,” she said, underscoring that the Special Representative’s independent voice helped shine the steady light that would allow the international community to combat the “poisonous legacy” of sexual violence.
Yet, the Russian Federation’s speaker was among those who expressed concern that Ms. Wallström was in danger of overstepping her mandate. Unilateral changes in the scope of the mandates of Special Representatives were inadmissible and could impact on the ability of the Council and other bodies to resolve the issues. Further in that regard, several delegations, including Egypt and Kenya, noted that the report included events that had taken place in their countries, but actually fell outside the scope her mandate. The representative of Sudan expressed the hope that the Council would take the necessary measures based on correct and accurate information, not untrue reports coming from some mass media and non-governmental organizations.
The Foreign Ministers of Togo and Belgium also addressed the Council.
Also speaking today were the representatives of the India, Morocco, United Kingdom, Azerbaijan, Germany, Portugal, France, Pakistan, Colombia, China, Guatemala, South Africa, Egypt, Australia, Viet Nam, Brazil, Switzerland (also on behalf of the Human Security Network), Liechtenstein, Israel, Indonesia, Italy, Nepal, Republic of Korea, Japan, Estonia, Canada, Bangladesh, Luxembourg, Peru, Syria, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Mexico, Sweden (also on behalf of the Nordic countries), Sri Lanka, Spain, Botswana, Armenia, Tunisia and Iran.
The head of the delegation of the European Union also spoke.
Before the meeting ended, the representatives of Iran, Azerbaijan, Israel and Armenia took the floor.
The meeting began at 10:35 a.m. and suspended at 1:15 p.m. It reopened at 3:06 p.m. and adjourned at 6:57 p.m.
The full text of statement S/PRST/2012/3 reads as follows:
“The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the full and effective implementation of resolutions 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009) and 1960 (2010) on Women and Peace and Security and all relevant statements of its Presidents.
“The Security Council thanks the Secretary-General for his report entitled "Conflict-Related Sexual Violence" (S/2012/33), and takes note of the analysis and recommendations contained therein.
“The Security Council is deeply concerned about incidents, trends, and patterns of sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict situations, including the deliberate targeting of civilians for sexual violence, inter alia, for political motivations, and its use as a tactic of war. The Council further notes with concern that sexual violence disproportionately affects women and girls, while also affecting men and boys. The Council stresses that acts of sexual violence not only severely undermine the critical contribution of women to society, but also challenge inclusive and sustainable peace processes.
“In the context of the full implementation of resolution 1960 (2010), the Security Council stresses the need for continued timely, verified, and accurate data collection through the Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Arrangements (MARA) on sexual violence in situations of armed conflict and post conflict and other situations relevant to the implementation of resolution 1888 (2009), which will contribute to better informed discussions and assist the Council's consideration of appropriate action, possibly including targeted and graduated measures. The Council stresses that approaches to data collection and reporting should adhere to safe and ethical practices and maintain the dignity of the victim at all times.
“The Security Council stresses the importance of prevention, early warning, and effective response to sexual violence when it is used as a tactic of war or as part of a widespread or systematic attack against civilian populations.
“The Security Council encourages United Nations peacekeeping missions to draw upon, where appropriate, the publication by UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, which compiles peacekeeping practices, as a reference tool to prevent sexual violence more effectively.
“The Security Council urges all parties to conflict to comply fully with their obligations under applicable international law, including the prohibition of all forms of sexual violence. The Council reiterates its strong condemnation of all violations of applicable international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, in armed conflict and post-conflict situations, in particular acts of sexual violence. The Council urges the complete cessation of such acts with immediate effect. The Council notes that impunity for perpetrators can undermine confidence in existing institutions and promote instability.
“The Security Council reiterates that the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes of international concern committed against women and girls has been strengthened through the work of the International Criminal Court, ad hoc and mixed tribunals, as well as specialized chambers in national tribunals. The Council further reiterates its intention to enhance its efforts to fight impunity and uphold accountability for serious crimes against women and girls with appropriate means and draws attention to the full range of justice and reconciliation mechanisms to be considered, including national, international, and mixed criminal courts and tribunals, truth and reconciliation commissions as well as national reparation programs for victims, institutional reforms and traditional dispute resolution mechanisms.
“The Security Council encourages Member States and the United Nations system to continue raising awareness of the impact that sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict situations has on victims, families, communities and societies. The Council stresses the importance of countering negative societal attitudes towards survivors of sexual violence that can lead to their exclusion from communities or other discriminatory practices. The Security Council calls on Member States with the support of the United Nations system and other relevant stakeholders to increase access to health care, psychosocial support, legal assistance and socio-economic reintegration services for victims of sexual violence, in particular in rural areas. The Council stresses the importance of ensuring that such incidents can be reported safely.
“The Security Council continues to encourage Member States to deploy greater numbers of female military and police personnel to United Nations peacekeeping operations and reiterates that all United Nations military, police personnel, and other personnel should be provided with adequate training, including on sexual and gender based violence, to carry out their responsibilities. The Council acknowledges the efforts of the Secretary-General to continue and strengthen efforts to implement the zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse by all United Nations personnel. The Council looks forward to the deployment of women protection advisors to United Nations missions, as called for in resolutions 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), and 1960 (2010).
“The Security Council reiterates the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflict and in peacebuilding. The Council notes with concern the continuing under-representation of women in formal peace processes and recognizes the Secretary-General's efforts to address this under-representation. In this regard, the Council reiterates the call made in General Assembly resolution 66/130 to increase the role of women in decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution in accordance with Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).
“The Security Council reiterates the importance of addressing sexual violence issues from the outset of peace processes, mediation efforts, ceasefires, and peace agreements, particularly in provisions for security arrangements, transitional justice, and reparations. The Council stresses the need for mediators and ceasefire monitors to be properly trained in how to address sexual violence.
“The Security Council stresses the importance of addressing sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict situations in the context of security sector reform initiatives and arrangements, including training, vetting, and capacity-building of national security actors.
“The Security Council commends the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict in carrying out her mandate in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions. The Council underlines the importance of her mandate and the mandate of the Team of Experts-Rule of Law/Sexual Violence in Conflict, which contribute to the women and peace and security agenda. The Council invites the Special Representative to continue to provide briefings and information consistent with her mandate and the Secretary-General to recommend appropriate actions.”
The Security Council met today to discuss conflict-related sexual violence, and had before it the Secretary-General’s latest report on the topic (document A/66/657-S/2012/33). That provides an update on progress made in implementing its resolution 1960 (2010), which, among other things, established a mechanism by which the Secretary-General would list parties “credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence in armed conflict”. The names of such parties — in this case, elements of armed groups and military forces operating in a number of African countries — are annexed to the report.
According to the Secretary-General, armed conflict and its aftermath provide a specific context for sexual violence. The robust series of resolutions adopted by the Security Council over the past three years casts a new spotlight on this phenomenon and its perpetrators — predominantly men in uniform, affiliated with both State and non-State armed groups. This focus has provided strategic entry points for reaching non-traditional actors in the realm of women’s security and must be sustained.
The Secretary-General stresses, in particular, that security forces are mandated to protect, not prey upon, the civilian population. “The uniform should symbolize security, discipline and public service, rather than rape, pillage and terror,” he says, adding that military personnel are responsive to training, unequivocal orders, disciplinary measures and the example set by their hierarchy, all of which should operate to prevent and deter sexual violence and other grave breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law.
He goes on to say that while sexual violence, and the long shadow of terror and trauma it casts, disproportionately affects women and girls, recent information underscores that the situation of male victims and the plight of children born as a result of wartime rape require deeper examination. The issue must be understood from all perspectives and addressed at all levels as part of a comprehensive approach to protecting civilians. “In particular, the searchlight cast by the Security Council should extend to the darkest corners of detention and interrogation facilities, to ensure that abuses of power, including sexual abuse, are prevented and punished,” he says
Calling on all parties to conflict to make specific and time-bound commitments to cease acts of sexual violence and bring perpetrators to justice, he underscores that such commitments should include clear orders through chains of command and in codes of conduct to prohibit sexual violence; timely investigation of alleged abuses in order to hold perpetrators accountable; and designation of a high-level interlocutor in the armed forces or armed group responsible for implementing these commitments.
Among his specific recommendations for the Council, he urges the 15 nation body to increase pressure on perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence, including the individuals and parties named in the report, through the adoption of “targeted and graduated measures” by relevant sanctions committees, and consider an appropriate mechanism or procedure to, among others, monitor the implementation of commitments by such parties.
The Council was also urged “to employ all means at its disposal” to address conflict-related sexual violence, including referrals to the International Criminal Court, mandating international commissions of inquiry, explicitly condemning violations in resolutions and presidential and public statements, and including this issue as a focus of its periodic field visits.
The report also includes key recommendations for Member States, donors and regional organizations. Among others, it encourages Member States to ensure medical, psychosocial, legal and other services for survivors, as well as reparations and redress. They were also encouraged to address conflict-related sexual violence in the context of security sector reform initiatives and arrangements, including training and capacity-building of national security actors.
MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said that on 30 September 2009, two dramatically different events had taken place. In the first, the Council had adopted resolution 1888, which had created the mandate for a Special Representative on Sexual Violence; in the second, a demonstration took place right outside the United Nations complex condemning mass rape by security forces in Guinea. As the Council reached consensus on a new measure to combat sexual violence, just outside its chamber, protestors were decrying yet more premeditated mass rape. As world public opinion applauded the Council’s commitments, international headlines reported that soldiers were raping in broad daylight. Many Council members had noted the connection between the two events; they had noted that when rape was a part of the repertoire of conflict or political coercion, it was a form of collective violence that could threaten collective peace and security.
She congratulated the Council for its work in the area over the past three years, and stressed that the meeting was a chance to consider whether its efforts had been effective, it was a chance to ask: Has the gap between what is said in this Chamber and what happens in the world beyond narrowed? She went on to say that she had gone to Guinea last November to visit survivors, and a young woman who had been gang raped while demonstrating in Conakry and left for dead had recalled the chilling words of one soldier: “You wanted power — this is what you get.” What had been striking was not how many women had been scarred by that atrocity, but how many had since gotten back up, organized and dared to tell their stories. She added that their demands for recognition, as well as for the removal of the perpetrators from positions of power, were now reflected in a Joint Communiqué the Guinean Government had signed with the United Nations.
She stressed that conflict-related sexual violence was, of course, not specific to one country; it was a global risk. The Security Council had led the way in recognizing that rape could acquire a “strategic twist” in times of conflict, as a tactic of war and terror. There was today broad recognition that the more brutal and shocking the crime, the more effectively it terrorized communities into submission, and lent notoriety to groups vying for power. “The terms of the debate have shifted from reacting to sexual violence like any other tragedy, to preventing it, like any other threat,” she said, adding that instead of talking about the wartime suffering of women year after year, protection measures had been established. “Instead of seeing the same few women in meeting after meeting, we are building a broad coalition.”
As the circle of stakeholders now extended to peacemakers, peacekeepers, war crimes prosecutors and others, it was clear that the Security Council had ushered in an ideological shift; and when the Council took notice, others did as well. The Council had kept pace with the changing dynamics of conflict, and indeed, “in contemporary wars, it has become more dangerous to be a woman fetching water or collecting firewood than a fighter on the front line.” She said that wars had entered the marketplaces where women traded; they followed children home from school; they haunted prison cells where political activists were detained. In response, the Security Council had embraced a view of security that included the physical integrity and perspectives of women. “During my visits to countries of concern, I have promised to bridge the voices of these women to the work of this [Council]. At the political level, these visits can initiate a dialogue for civilian protection commitments,” she said.
Ms. Wallström said that she aimed to remain relevant to the Security Council and to ensure that her mandate added value to its work. It was becoming clearer that the tools being employed, including expert teams on the rule of law, were making a difference. One such tool was the report being considered today. That survey detailed “shocking examples” of sexual violence as a threat to security and an impediment to peacebuilding. “No one can read this report and remain unmoved,” she continued, addressing head on the issue of “naming and shaming” parties and individuals connected with a pattern or conflict-related sexual violence. She said the report was first and foremost an instrument that, in the hands of political leaders, could help them track and address sexual violence that was linked with insecurity.
Moreover, the report did not just recount “horror stories”; it also highlighted stories and actions that had made a difference, such as enforcing command responsibility and vetting perpetrators from security forces. Indeed, it was in the interest of every Government “to ensure that its national military uniforms symbolized professionalism, discipline and service; not rape, pillage and horror”. The report also provided a baseline for systematic engagement with parties to armed conflict, with the consent and partnership of Governments. “These reports are vehicles for putting names to some of history’s complex horrors. The acts of sexual torture and terror recorded here are not inevitable by-products of war, but crimes committed by combatants and their commanders. The ‘fog of war’ does not absolve them of that responsibility,” she declared.
She characterized the reports as “historical records”, which she said was a critical point because the history of rape had been a history of denial. Indeed, that history had been suppressed chiefly because the victim rather than the attacker was most often shamed and stigmatized. Perhaps it was because rape was treated as a “lesser evil” in the context of war; often traded away by negotiating parties as one of the prices of peace. “Whatever the explanation, every speaker who adds their voice to this debate is helping to end centuries of silence that have made rape an effective ‘secret weapon’,” she said, stressing that from the Congo to Cambodia, and Bosnia to Liberia, such crimes had been neglected at the peace table and stricken from the public record. Indeed, as children borne of rape were coming of age in Rwanda and struggling to find their way in society, one thing was becoming clear: “rape is not over when it’s over,” she said, adding that the point of international efforts to thwart the crime was to “give rape a history, in order to deny its future.”
While not a panacea, she said that the list annexed to the reports was an important tool that reminded those who committed, commanded, or condoned sexual violence that they could no longer sleep at night under the cover of impunity and anonymity. The practice of listing showed that this was not just a war of words, because while preventive diplomacy was important and “zero tolerance” polices matter, ultimately, rape must carry consequences. The vision was to create conditions in which armed groups saw sexual violence as a liability that would invite national and international scrutiny and censure unless concrete measures were taken. Those measures were outlined in resolution 1960 (2010) as a basis for de-listing, she said, underscoring that those who tolerated “sexual terror” should also be on notice that they did so in defiance of the Security Council.
By example, she said that, in the case of Côte d’Ivoire, that meant that militiamen who had threatened to burn women alive if they resisted rape — “they know why they appear on this list.” The Council had signalled its intention to consider sexual violence when establishing or renewing sanctions regimes and exemplary action had already been taken by its Sanctions Committee on the Democratic Republic of the Congo in relation to Mayi-Mayi leader Ntaberi Ntabo Cheka. That also sent a powerful message to others. She said that rape was increasingly becoming a precursor to conflict and was often the last weapon to be relinquished in its wake. Nor could the international community ignore the use or threat of sexual violence as a tool of political repression and civil strife. Indeed, a disturbing trend, politically-motivated rape, had been witnessed in the aftermath of contested elections in Kenya, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. It had also been part of the political violence in Libya, Egypt and Syria. Specifically on Syria, she noted that the Secretary-General had raised concern about sexual abuse of men in detention as a method of extracting intelligence.
Ms. Wallström called passionately for the Organization to “deliver as one” —and more quickly — regarding its actions and obligations to counter conflict-related sexual violence. Such concerted action was urgently necessary when blame, shame and stigma often deterred victims from coming forward. Data collection was improving but “we cannot wait for hard data to be collected,” because, “for too long we have been too late.” The United Nations must continue its work to become better attuned to “red flags” and early warning signs. Indeed, the existence of illicit small arms or weak security sectors was often breeding grounds for sexual violence.
She said that the Council had understood that there could be no security without women’s security, and the goal was not only to protect them, but to enable them to participate in public and economic life. Rape had a chilling effect on women’s political participation, casting a long shadow of trauma and terror. “We must send a message that women’s lives and votes and voices count, and will be counted,” she said, emphasizing that women were not passive victims, because they fought wars every day, not for medals or monuments, but for bread to feed their children. “I am particularly concerned that at this historical juncture, unless women can shape their own political and personal destiny, the Arab Spring will turn into a winter for Arab women,” she added.
In closing, she said that in the wake of war, the aim was not just to build back, but to build back better. That meant addressing pre-existing injustice and inequality. What had already been achieved gave reason for hope. The Council’s relevant actions told survivors that their lives mattered. It also told perpetrators — and potential perpetrators — that war was not a license to rape; “that the world is watching”. The Council had changed the way the world thought about rape. From the 1907 Hague Convention that gave wartime rape a glancing reference as “a crime against family honour”, sexual violence was now seen as a self-standing threat to security. “This has validated the experience of survivors. And in the end, that kind of transformation is what this work is all about,” she said.
HERVÉ LADSOUS, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the conflict-related sexual violence mandate was among the most demanding in peacekeeping. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and Department of Field Support (DFS) remained deeply concerned that, despite universal and repeated condemnation, sexual violence continued to be used as a war tactic.
Since last year’s debate, his Office had worked with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to develop terms of reference for women’s protection advisers. Select missions had been requested to identify such advisers from within existing resources, but where conflict-related sexual violence was widespread, dedicated resources should be made available to execute the high volume of work.
Describing other progress, he said that during 2011, the Special Representative and UN Action had developed guidance on the monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements, which should improve prevention and programming responses. Challenges going forward included mobilising dedicated capacity to implement the arrangements, ensuring the presence of uniformed women in affected areas to reach out to women and girls, and addressing poor infrastructure.
Further, DPKO and DFS were ready to provide support to host Governments in institutionalizing the prohibition, prevention and accountability of conflict-related sexual violence, he said, through policy development and training of the national security sector. Political will was also critical to ensuring that perpetrators of sexual violence were tried and held accountable.
In that regard, he cited work by the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and civil society to ensure that the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur included provisions for the Sudanese Government to take steps to deliver justice for such abuse. Progress also had been made in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) had undertaken some 30 joint investigation team missions to investigate sexual violence cases. It also had supported trials to strengthen the military justice system. As a result, 217 judgements on sexual violence were delivered in 2011.
In the area of capacity-building, he cited United Nations police work in Timor-Leste, Liberia, Haiti and Darfur, to support national police in the development of dedicated spaces to receive survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. Three such spaces were being launched this month in “at risk” camps in Haiti. The Police Division was also working with police-contributing countries to develop “training of trainer” modules to standardize the prevention and investigation of sexual and gender-based violence.
Ultimately, protection from sexual violence was a key element of the civilian protection mandate of peacekeeping operations, he said, adding that different protection arrangements had emerged from diverse environments. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, Joint Protection Teams and Community Liaison Assistants had become essential to the Mission’s efforts to protect civilians. DPKO was surveying which good practices could be replicated in other contexts, but ultimately, the host Government was responsible for civilian protection. “Missions cannot act as a surrogate for State authority,” he emphasized. They must, however, where mandated, strengthen frail state institutions.
He went on to say that MONUSCO was implementing the Secretary-General’s Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, which made support to the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) and Police Nationale Congolaise (PNC) conditional on their respect for international law.
In closing, he called on States to fund women’s protection advisers with a view to enhancing implementation of the monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements and the sexual violence mandate. Time-bound commitments were part of security sector reform and a strong tool for preventing sexual violence. As such, United Nations missions were ready to support host Governments in that regard, address the integration of armed groups into national security forces and support national military and civilian justice systems.
He also called on police- and troop-contributors to increase the number of women represented in national security forces. Political, social and economic empowerment of women in fragile States was essential to eradicating discrimination, inequality and sexual violence. Women’s exclusion from sectors responsible for their disempowerment must be addressed through adopting the principles of resolution 1325 (2000) and mobilizing strong political will.
AMINA MEGHEIRBI, NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, said she was also here in her capacity as President of the Attawasul Association, a Libyan non-governmental organization (NGO) in Benghazi working on women’s empowerment. “I have lived through the violence imposed on the Libyan people by a brutal dictator for 42 years,” she said, including the intensified aggression after the 17 February revolution, in which sexual violence was used as a weapon.
Indeed, sexual violence was often used as a weapon to torture and terrorize, she said, and it was important to remember that each paragraph of the report represented human beings: women, men, children and communities affected by that threat to peace and security. That included people from her own community who, like most, had not received proper services, protection or acknowledgement. “This is a collective failure of the international community,” she asserted.
Leadership was essential, she said, first and foremost in the Security Council, where prevention of conflict-related sexual violence must be a priority. She recalled that, after mass rapes in Walikale, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 2010, the Council had urged that all steps be taken to prevent such outrages in the future. Given the political, technical and financial resources required, she questioned whether that had been done and urged all actors to address the root causes of sexual violence, including gender inequality and political exclusion. Women’s full and equal participation was fundamental to addressing those issues.
Further, when prevention efforts failed, survivors must be the priority of all service provision and protection, she said, through a “survivor-centric approach that encompassed medical, psycho-social and legal service provision, as well as effective avenues for reparations and redress. Service and protection strategies must be designed in full consultation with women in affected communities, with attention focused on displaced women and girls.
In addition, survivors deserved nothing less than justice and an end to impunity, she said. Accountability for sexual violence must be included at every stage, from ceasefire agreements to post-conflict reconstruction. At national and international levels, security sectors and judicial systems must address the “culture of impunity” by vetting reintegrated soldiers and bringing suspected perpetrators to justice in domestic courts or through referrals to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Maintaining the dignity of survivors must be at the core of such work.
In that context, she emphasized that all parties involved in sexual violence must be held accountable and prosecuted, including politicians and military commanders who ordered or permitted such acts as a weapon of war.
She went on to register concern at all situations where women’s rights were being violated, underlining that the Secretary-General’s report did not reference a number of relevant situations where sexual violence had been perpetrated, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories and Haiti. She also condemned acts of sexual exploitation and abuse, which were all too often committed with impunity. As a civil society member, “we are often at the forefront of combating sexual violence from the grassroots to the international level”, she said, urging the Council to ensure that it fulfilled the obligations of all relevant resolutions, including 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008).
ROSEMARY DICARLO (United States) said the Secretary-General’s report demonstrated the importance of having a Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the subject. In just over a year, she had been able to gather the information being debated today and list the horrors taking place. The United States had long supported the creation of that mandate, she said, adding “this was money well spent.” The Council now had before it names, places and dates about acts of sexual violence committed in a broad swath of countries. The report was also generating results. For example, she said Congolese military officers were now being trained on ways to effectively deal with victims of conflict-related sexual violence. Such training modules would some become a standard in many peacekeeping missions.
Yet, the problem remained vast and the Council’s work had only just begun. Indeed, in the Congo and in Guinea, military officials suspected of rapes and other atrocities had recently been fielded as candidates for high political offices. The report, she said, made it clear that “this is a security issue, not a women’s issue,” and it must be tackled with the same early warning and preventive measures as other threats. The United States specifically endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendation to consider conflict-related sexual violence as a part of security sector reform measures. The ultimate objective must be to integrate women and girls as agents of peace, growth and stability in all areas, including preventing conflict and building peace. The United States would continue to support that goal worldwide, she said, stressing that preventing and combating conflict related sexual violence was critical in post conflict stories. “For the sake of the vulnerable, and the honour of nations, we, as a Council, must continue to combat and prevent this scourge,” she declared.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India) said an estimated 90 per cent of war casualties were civilians, the majority of whom were women and children, which perhaps reflected the gender imbalance in societies. The absence of women at the peace negotiating table was unconscionable. Aspects of resolution 1325 (2000), including women’s greater participation in conflict prevention, were central to that issue. Practical and effective steps must be taken to mitigate the impact of conflict on women and enhance their ability to restore peace. Gender-based violence should not be tolerated. All such cases must be investigated and perpetrators prosecuted.
Women’s rights had received attention in the codification of international law, he said, but the challenge lay in its effective implementation and availability of resources for capacity-building. That alone would ensure the real impact of efforts on the ground. As the most egregious crimes against women were committed by non-State actors, the Council must consider how to tackle that issue. India was aware of the need to incorporate elements of the gender mainstreaming policy in the pre-deployment training of peacekeepers, and had taken note of United Nations development of progress indicators in the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000). The development of such benchmarks and guidelines should involve intergovernmental scrutiny and approval before their adoption.
LOTFI BOUCHAARA (Morocco) said today’s debate allowed the Council to focus on the psychological impact of conflict-related sexual violence on women and children, and the need to guarantee optimal victim protection. Resolution 1960 (2010) was one of several initiatives to bolster the toolkit for confronting such abuse. In addition, the monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements established under that text should allow for the collection of credible data on sexual violence, and provide the basis for global strategies by fortifying prevention measures, improving medical support and guaranteeing justice and support for victims.
He went on to say that while the parties to conflict were ultimately responsible for halting sexual violence, coordinated and robust action by the United Nations was crucial in enhancing current initiatives. The implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions required coordination among various international players, as well as more commitment, technical assistance and capacity-building.
SERGEY N. KAREV (Russian Federation) said sexual violence in armed conflict should be dealt with in all its manifestations and the issue of “women, peace and security” should be addressed through the Council’s resolution 1325 (2000). Sexual violence should be dealt with effectively and swiftly, especially since it was generally a symptom of widespread impunity. At the same time, it was necessary to remember that such violence should not always be considered a threat to international peace and security. Indeed, sexual violence and violence against women in particular were being considered by a host of other United Nations bodies, such as the General Assembly and the Commission on the Status of Women.
As for the Secretary-General’s report, which contained a wealth of detailed information, he was concerned that some of the sources were questionable. He also disagreed with the broad manner in which Ms. Wallström had undertaken her mandate. The issue at hand was conflict-related violence, and as such, unilateral changes in the scope of the mandates of Special Representatives were inadmissible and could impact the ability of the Council and other bodies to resolve the issues. The Russian Federation, therefore, called on Ms. Wallström to strictly adhere to her mandate. Yet, he said, that view in no way detracted from the successful nature of her work. He added that his delegation did note believe in creating more special mechanisms for monitoring implementation of relevant measures; that would be better addressed by improving coordination of existing mechanisms. The Russian Federation continued to believe that the Council should continue to deal with the issue under its agenda item on “women, peace and security”, which included links to the maintenance of international peace and security.
MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said his delegation welcomed the Secretary-General’s report and wholeheartedly supported the work and mandate of the Special Representative. He especially appreciated her work in the combat against impunity and the ways in which it had helped the United Nations react to it. He also welcomed the effort towards accountability, and the Council could now hold parties to account for the terrible acts they committed. It was important that the Council took sexual violence into account when it considered extending the mandates of peacekeeping missions. Yet, he stressed that such violence occurred in States that were not on the Council’s agenda and, as such, the Special Representative must be allowed to address patterns of sexual violence and bring them to the Council’s attention wherever they occurred.
He went on to welcome the good work of the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law, and stressed that all conflict parties must become aware that it was the perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence who would be targeted, not victims. Rape was increasingly being used as a tactic of war and the Security Council should be united in its condemnation of it. He firmly believed that the Council needed to sustain its work in the area and, to that end, he was seriously disappointed that the 15-nation body had been unable to agree on a presidential statement. “This sends a depressing message to the world at large,” that the Council could not agree on a public statement regarding impunity, prevention and early warning, and crucially, on Ms. Wallström’s excellent work. He hoped the Council would continue to work to make such a statement possible. Finally, he said that the United Kingdom had noticed a “disturbing trend” of certain Council Members arguing that they were not bound by resolutions negotiated and adopted when they were not on the body. Yet, all should know that Council decisions were legally binding on all States, whether they were seated around the table or not.
AGSHIN MEHDIYEV (Azerbaijan) strongly condemned all violence against women and girls in situations of armed conflict, stressing the imperative for all parties to strictly abide by their international humanitarian and human rights law obligations. In three days, his country would commemorate the twentieth anniversary of crimes committed against Azerbaijani civilians in the town of Khojaly, where hundreds of civilians had been killed. In its resolutions adopted in response to the occupation of Azerbaijani territories, the Council referred to violations of international humanitarian law and attacks on civilians. He was confident that measures taken at the national level, as well as in the international framework, would bring those responsible to justice.
He said the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000) was an important milestone which had raised the visibility of women’s plight in times of conflict. Subsequent texts had also contributed to a solid framework and raising awareness. In that context, he emphasized thatprotection efforts must be free of politically motivated approaches and noted the Special Representative’s role in that regard. Among the pressing issues was that of women taken hostage and reported missing in connection with armed conflict. He recalled that the fifty-fourth session of the Commission on the Status of Women had called for the immediate release of such women, including through strengthened international cooperation. More measures were needed, including for combating impunity.
MIGUEL BERGER ( Germany) called the issue on today’s agenda among the most abhorrent, yet still all-too-often concealed crimes. Widespread sexual violence ranked among the grave breaches of international law, as reflected in the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. He welcomed the establishment of the monitoring and reporting mechanism and hoped the women protection advisers would be deployed shortly. The key goal should be prevention, not mere reaction. Reliable data and early warning mechanisms were crucial in that regard, as were awareness-raising and peacekeeper training. On a related point, he said the availability of small arms increased the threat of their use against women and children.
The fight against impunity must be accelerated and perpetrators brought to justice, he said. He welcomed the inclusion in the Secretary-General’s report, for the first time, of an annex listing parties which were credibly suspected of rape and other sexual violence in situations on the Council’s agenda. Further, women’s participation at all stages of the peace process must be ensured. To close that gap, new mediation guidelines, developed by the Department of Political Affairs, took sexual violence into account. Reparation schemes and funding frameworks should be guided by a survivor-focused approach. “We cannot separate the challenge of sexual violence from the broader security issues on the agenda of this Council,” he stressed.
JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL (Portugal) said the large number of speakers on the list was clear evidence of the issue’s importance. He commended the Special Representative for her efforts to spread the message that there was no real security without women’s security. The Secretary-General’s report was a vital tool that could assist in addressing specific situations, as well as provide an opportunity to examine achievements and national-level anti-violence policies that had yielded success. The Council had been successful in using the tools at hand, but it must do more, including through pressing ahead with the deployment of monitors in United Nations peacekeeping missions.
If such monitors were deployed, the Special Representative could provide information that would allow the Council to act well before acts of sexual violence could become a threat to international peace and security. In the meantime, the Council would now have to take action regarding those parties listed in the annex to the report. It should be consistent and reinforce its message on the matter, especially as its decision to address such matters head on would help end impunity. Indeed, the Council and the wider United Nations must stress the message that no political leader was above censure. He said that his delegation was extremely disappointed that the Council had been unable to agree on a statement on the topic at hand.
MARTIN BRIENS (France) said his delegation fully supported the Special Representative’s work, as well as that of the expert group on the rule of law. France actively supported the range of Security Council resolutions on “women, peace and security”, and to that end, he welcomed Ms. Wallström’s positive assessment of institutional mechanisms to combat sexual violence at national levels. At the same time, she had reported that there remained alarming gaps in that effort. Women, particularly victims of rape, continued to face a raft of crimes and horrors, from Sudan to Syria, where women and children were being denied access to hospitals, often for treatment for rape and other crimes committed against them.
It was up to the Council to ensure that all its decisions were implemented, including the deployment of protection monitors at the mission level. He said that perpetrators of sexual violence must be brought to justice and prosecuted “with due severity”. The Council had before it a wealth of tools that could achieve that goal, including that it could refer such matters to the International Criminal Court. Finally, he said it was also necessary for the Security Council to reinforce the “zero tolerance” sexual abuse and exploitation policy throughout all peacekeeping missions.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR (Pakistan) encouraged the Special Representative to continue to focus on the core of her mandate: situations of armed conflict or occupation. Inclusion of elections, political strife or civil unrest under “other situations” transcended the Council’s mandate and contravened resolution 1960 (2010). He did not support the mention in the Special Representative’s report of situations that were neither armed conflict, nor post-conflict. The report had also changed the established notion of “sexual violence in situations of armed conflict” to “conflict-related sexual violence”, and he wondered how that terminology was in line with the mandate.
Indeed, the mandate of taking action against specific parties was restricted to situations on the Council’s agenda, he said. But the report recommended the Council take action, including targeted measures by sanctions committees, against all parties named in the report, rather than those mentioned in the annex. He requested clarification. He also asked about the origin of the framework for early warning indicators and steps taken to ensure it worked strictly within the Council’s mandate, to obviate politicization. Such questions notwithstanding, Pakistan supported the important mandate, and stressed the need to enhance the rule of law through a focus on national judicial systems, better training for peacekeepers and greater participation by women in all peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.
NÉSTOR OSORIO (Colombia) noted that the expression “conflict-related sexual violence” in the Special Representative’s report was different from the terminology used by the Council in its previous documents. When, in resolution 1960 (2010), the Council urged the Secretary-General to deal with post-conflict situations or other relevant situations for the implementation of resolution 1888 (2011), it did so exclusively to enable information gathering by the monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements. The report showed that the concept of sexual violence in armed conflict was being abandoned. That was not covered by resolution 1960.
As for the possible establishment of dialogue among conflict parties, he said such dialogue must observe national laws and policies. If a State had a policy requiring that dialogue between the United Nations and armed groups be carried out with Government permission, it must be respected. Colombia attached the greatest importance to the investigation and trial of sexual violence perpetrators and was determined to address that problem. National authorities were taking action to foster zero tolerance for violence against women and sexual violence, notably through legislation ensuring a life free of violence and an institutional structure to implement such measures. As for the monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements, he said the information collected must contribute to broad policies against sexual abuse. It also was imperative to help States with the development and implementation of early warning systems.
WANG MIN (China) condemned all violence against women in armed conflict, including sexual violence, and urged all conflict parties to abide by international humanitarian and human rights laws. A key goal for alleviating the suffering of women in conflict was to prevent wars altogether. He said that, as the guarantor of international peace and security, the Council must work to prevent wars and pursue a path of preventive diplomacy when tensions threatened to boil over. All Security Council resolutions must be implemented fully, in letter and spirit. China supported the integration of women into peacebuilding and peacemaking efforts.
He said that an overall goal for the United Nations was to bolster the development of women, especially in post-conflict countries. He urged stepped up efforts to ensure broad achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. He said that all United Nations bodies must carry out their efforts in line with their mandates. In that regard, he noted that the General Assembly and UN-Women had a role to play in that area. He also hoped the Special Representative of the Secretary-General would continue to carry out her mandate in line with the relevant Council resolution that had created it.
GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala) stated that the mandate of combating sexual violence in situations of conflict was a very complex one. The adoption of resolutions 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), and 1960 (2010) underscored the commitment of the Council to fight against the violence and terror that women had suffered as a result of sexual violence during armed conflicts. Some of the conceptual advances contained in the Secretary-General’s report, in proposing a more detailed characterization on the scope of conflict-related sexual violence, offered a greater basis for preventive measures, the possible use of early warning systems, as well as improvement in the access of services for victims. It was imperative, he added, to engage commanders of the armed forces and the whole chains of command, to prohibit sexual violence within the armed forces and armed groups.
Guatemala, he added, supported the notion that women should have a predominant role in the mediation of controversies and encouraged the Secretary-General to appoint more qualified women as Special Representatives and Special Envoys. His delegation was concerned about the delay in the deployment of women protection advisers, requested by the Secretary-General in resolution 1888 (2009). Even though there were also signs of progress, such as the creation of a platform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the operational coordination of resources dedicated to providing specific services to combat sexual violence in conflicts, there was “still a long way to go”.
DOCTOR MASHABANE ( South Africa) attached great significance to the issue on today’s agenda, expressing deep concern at the trends of violence against women and girls. The Secretary-General’s report was among most comprehensive prepared on the topic and represented progress. He was pleased that country teams had served as the primary sources of information, a crucial development. He also welcomed progress made in the Terms of Reference for the women protection advisers and looked forward to the early deployment of those experts. He voiced hope that the countries mentioned in the report would do their utmost to address the challenges, including through bringing perpetrators to justice and addressing reparations.
Noting that rape continued unabated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a matter of great concern, he supported enhancement of the Congolese justice system and the investigation of grave crimes, including sexual violence. He also welcomed country commitments to address impunity for sexual crimes, lauding other efforts by the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and work done in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and South Sudan. Equally important were the pre-deployment training modules, and all United Nations agencies should work in an integrated manner to carry out those activities. With that, he supported the recommendation for the Council to increase pressure on the perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence, and for referrals to be sent to the International Criminal Court. He agreed the Council should reflect conflict-related sexual violence in the renewals of peacekeeping mandates and in special political missions.
ELLIOTT OHIN, Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Togo, said women and girls’ suffering in conflict situations was a serious concern, as crimes such as rape, sexual slavery, and forced pregnancy or sterilization constituted serious human rights violations. Lauding resolution 1325 (2000), which defined women’s roles in conflict prevention and peacebuilding, he said national action plans were the most effective means to attaining the goals of that text. As such, Togo had developed an action plan to combat all forms of violence against women and had established support centres.
As a troop contributor, Togo also had created a pre-deployment training centre, he said, which made staff aware that sexual violence was prohibited. It was of crucial importance to halt impunity. The Secretary-General’s policy of zero tolerance of sexual abuse in peacekeeping operations must become a reality. Togo supported the creation of pre-training modules, as well as the evaluation of early warning indicators and their integration into prevention systems. A justice toolkit should be drawn up to guide efforts, such as hybrid tribunals. The principle of complementarity should govern referrals to the International Criminal Court. Extrajudicial mechanisms, like the truth, justice and reconciliation commissions, also helped to solidify the notion of individual responsibility and promote victims’ rights.
DIDIER REYNDERS, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs of Belgium, said the Secretary-General’s report could leave no member of the international community unmoved. Belgium was firmly committed to the combat against sexual violence and had long supported the Council’s work in the area of “women, peace and security”. As for the mandate of the Special Representative, he said it was clear that her work should be guided by the realm of traditional conflict, as defined by the Council. But, to restrict her so that it was solely guided by that traditional definition would be tantamount to restraining the role of the United Nations to address such sexual violence in all its complex manifestations.
He went on to say that it was the duty of the entire international community to prevent all officials who had committed acts of sexual violence from holding any political or military office. He said that prevention was often more effective than providing reparations, and his Government had long supported early-warning measures to head off incidents of sexual violence. Belgium had provided relevant advice, training and financial support to the Congolese military, in that regard. As Chair of the Central African Republic Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, Belgium monitored the issue of sexual violence in that country very closely and made sure that it was discussed at all meetings. Belgium was also concerned about sexual violence and torture, including against detainees, in Syria and other countries that had seen uprisings in the wake of the “Arab Spring”. He stressed the collective responsibility to combat sexual violence. The Council had a duty to transmit the list annexed to the Secretary-General’s report to the relevant sanctions committees. He praised Ms. Wallström’s work as an important first step and said that his delegation looked forward to others that were sure to come.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) stated that his delegation appreciated the efforts exerted by Mrs. Wallström and her team for the preparation of the report on conflict-related sexual violence. However, Egypt believed that adding subsection III (B) entitled “Sexual violence in the context of elections, political strife, and civil unrest” to the report fell far beyond the mandate given to the special representative to implement Security Council resolution 1960 (2010). The current situation in Egypt could not be characterized as armed conflict and, therefore, Egypt could not be dealt with on an equal footing with other States mentioned in innovative section III (B), where a conflict existed and widespread, systematic, documented sexual violence was committed against women.
What was more shocking, he added, was the major discrepancy in section III (B) in comparing the peaceful revolution in Egypt, where a single isolated incident was under court marshal consideration, with the grave situation in Syria, which was witnessing an armed conflict where military forces were involved in a conflict situation with opposition armed groups. The allegations of virginity tests in paragraph 81 had been extensively investigated by the Egyptian military authorities and the suspected doctor soldier was being tried before the supreme military court, thus reflecting Egypt’s strong belief in rule of law and zero tolerance towards any violations. That, in itself, should have provided justification for not mentioning Egypt at all in the report.
Egypt was cruising towards a smooth democratic transition, he stated, and most of the other incidents cited in paragraph 81, had occurred during the troubled last days of the former regime. Further, the influential role played by the Egyptian women in the January 25th Revolution was in itself a clear manifestation of their active participation in the transformation process within the Egyptian society.
PHILIPPA JANE KING (Australia) said it was critical for the Council to fully implement resolution 1960 (2010). Strongly supporting the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, notably the increased use of field visits, she encouraged the Council to receive regular briefings by that expert, which would help in undertaking its preventive role in situations of concern. Accountability for crimes of sexual violence was critical to changing behaviour and the Council’s increased engagement with parties listed in the Secretary-General’s report would be important in developing a culture of accountability.
Further, she urged the Council to remain seized of the need to deploy women protection advisers to peacekeeping and special political missions, and encouraged the inclusion of more women as uniformed personnel in peacekeeping operations. Welcoming the recent deployment of the Team of Experts on the rule of law and sexual violence in conflict, she noted a “renewed dedication” by the United Nations, as well as troop- and police contributors, to implementing tools for preventing sexual violence. In that vein, she encouraged troop- and police-contributors to integrate scenario-based training into pre-deployment training. Also, human rights training tools for security officials would help extend security sector reform efforts to detention and interrogation facilities.
LE HOAI TRUNG ( Viet Nam) said war had always impacted men and women differently, but probably never more so than in modern armed conflicts, when girls and women were disproportionately targeted and constituted the majority of victims. As a country that had experiences in dealing with the consequences of war, and as the main sponsor of resolution 1889 (2009), his country believed that challenges still remained, despite international efforts to promote related Security Council resolutions. The United Nations had an important role to play coordinating with Member States, relevant United Nations bodies, civil society and other stakeholders in promoting the recognition and integration of women in areas of peace and security and in intensifying global efforts to end sexual violence.
Stopping sexual violence against women in armed conflict situations was closely linked with empowerment and gender equality issues, he said. “Only when women can play a full and equal part in peace, conflict resolution and post-conflict processes then can we build the foundation for international peace and security,” he said. Measures to protect them from conflict-related sexual violence should be designed as part of a broader comprehensive framework covering social, economic and development issues, with gender equality incorporated into all levels of policy-making, reconciliation, negotiation, humanitarian aid management, and post-conflict planning. United Nations bodies and donors should work in a coordinated and coherent manner to assist national Governments in building gender-related capacity. The international community should also enhance its assistance to poor conflict-afflicted countries to accelerate economic and social development and improve people’s livelihoods, which could help to prevent conflicts at the source and lay the foundation for enduring peace and security.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, head of the European Union delegation, stated that the establishment of the monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements on conflict-related sexual violence had made an important contribution towards more systematic and detailed information flow to the Council. He welcomed the development of early warning indictors specific to conflict-related sexual violence and the scenario-based pre-deployment training modules by the United Nations system, which would hopefully enhance the capacity of the United Nations peacekeepers to respond. A holistic approach, which included women’s full participation in decision-making in peace and security, was key to effectively preventing and responding to sexual violence.
It was the duty of all States, he added, to investigate and prosecute crimes of sexual violence. The European Union encouraged the Council to use all means at its disposal to end impunity for sexual violence in conflict, including through referrals to the International Criminal Court, mandating commissions of inquiry, and by explicitly condemning those violations. The Council must also continue to use the monitoring, analysis, and reporting arrangements, including by using the list contained in the report as a basis for more focused engagement with the parties listed.
The European Union, he stated, was making use of diverse tools, such as development cooperation and political dialogue, to implement its dedicated policy on women, peace, and security, and provided 200 million euros to support related initiatives. The Union had gender advisors or focal points in each of its crisis management missions around the world. Further, the Union also continued to work closely with the United Nations, such as by supporting UN-Women in carrying out a project aimed at building accountability for the implementation of the Security Council resolutions on women, peace, and security.
REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) said “we have come a long way since the adoption of resolution 1820 (2008)”, but for monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements to be effective, they must be supported by broad United Nations membership. In that context, she encouraged the Special Representative to engage in dialogue with Member States and regional groups. While women’s protection advisers would allow the fight against sexual violence to become a mission-wide endeavour, prevention would only be effective if peacekeepers had the resources to implement their mandate. She commended improvements in pre-deployment training.
Countering sexual violence in armed conflict required more emphasis on prevention and capacity-building, she said, urging efforts to address States’ institution-building, training, victim support and rule of law needs. She lauded work done by the Team of Experts on Sexual Violence, calling it “somewhat surprising” that such critical work was financed exclusively through voluntary contributions. “Real change requires an integrated approach that combines prevention, the fight against impunity and support to victims,” she emphasized. The United Nations must support capacity-building and institutional strengthening as a system-wide priority.
THOMAS GUERBER (Switzerland), speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network, said he found it “deeply disturbing” that today the world continued to witness rapes of women, girls and children in general, in countries in armed conflict, but also in other situations, including post-conflict situations. Although he recognized the efforts made by some Governments to put an end to those crimes, to strengthen the judicial systems and to bring those responsible to justice, progress remained slow, and in practice perpetrators of crimes against women and girls often went unpunished.
In that regard, the Human Security Network urged Member States to increase their efforts to prevent conflict-related sexual violence by undertaking all necessary efforts to implement all applicable legal provisions in the matter. That was a challenge for the international community as a whole, especially for the regional and subregional organizations, he said. The message must be clear, he stressed, there was no impunity for the perpetrators of those crimes, and the countries affected and the international community would not rest until accountability and justice were served. Genuine support, protection and relative services to victims and their families were also crucial. He emphasized that support at the community level was vital, and adding projects that directly assisted victims and their families to help overcome the trauma inflicted upon them were of particularly great value.
In post-conflict situations, “security is not a men’s issue, it is a gender issue, and women must be involved in it, in its inception,” he stressed. The “gender perspective” must be part of the reform and the training of the security forces. Further, the Human Security Network emphasized the importance of the full and equal participation of women in the political processes, including in peacemaking and peacebuilding.
GEORG SPARBER (Liechtenstein) said that sexual violence was not only used as a method of warfare during armed conflict but was also used as a means to surreptitiously continue conflicts after the “guns have gone silent”. Sexual violence could serve as an important indicator in determining when conflicts might turn violent, or when a conflict relapsed into violence. Therefore, to fulfil its mandate towards conflict prevention, he emphasized that it was imperative the Council continued to receive information on sexual violence, including on situations of concern that may not even be on its agenda.
“Sexual violence not only attacks the dignity and the body of the victim, but it tears at the fundamental social fabric of the community,” he said. To build sustainable peace, it was necessary to address sexual violence throughout all stages of the resolution conflict, starting with ceasefire agreements, and the presence of adequate gender expertise at the “peace table”. Moreover, sexual violence should be addressed in the mediation efforts, or it was likely to be ignored throughout later efforts to create and maintain peace. Further, he pledged to continue his delegation’s financial support for the International Criminal Court Trust Fund for Victims, which adopted a gender-based perspective across all programming and specifically aimed to assist victims of all forms of sexual and gender-based violence.
RON PROSOR (Israel) said acts of sexual violence were often the most disturbing and most hidden elements of conflict, yet the number of victims was staggering, and continued to grow daily. The use of sexual violence was often the “calling card” of the most brutal regimes and militias around the world. State-sponsored rape had been a primary tool of oppression for dictators, from Muammar al-Qadhafi in Libya to Bashar al-Assad in Syria to the Ayatollahs of Iran. Armed groups in Africa were using sexual violence to instil fear and shatter lives. Quoting a former commander of United Nations peacekeeping forces in eastern Congo, he said: “Rape is an extremely cheap weapon, but it has vast and far-reaching effects”.
As sexual violence was on the rise, he urged acting with a common purpose and maintaining “zero tolerance” for its use as a weapon of war. It was time to breathe life into the words of resolutions, including 1960 (2010), with concrete action on the ground. Those listed in the annex of the Secretary-General’s reports should face additional measures from the Security Council Sanctions Committee. He also strongly supported the recommendation to include provisions for conflict-related sexual violence in ceasefire and peace agreements. Also, it was essential to have women in peacekeeping forces and negotiation teams.
YUSRA KHAN (Indonesia) strongly deplored all forms of violence, including sexual violence, committed against women. Implementation of resolution 1960 (2010) must be done in keeping with the spirit of resolution 1325 (2000), which addressed all aspects of women in conflict and post-conflict situations. In the last year, there had been several armed conflicts in which sexual violence was widespread, and even more disturbing, most perpetrators remained at large. That was unacceptable and all actions must be taken to eliminate the conditions that give rise to such behaviour.
He went on to insist that attitudes, values and traditions that sanctioned sexual violence must be consistently discouraged. At the international level, the emergence of a universal working definition to facilitate data collection should advocate timely and verified information on the occurrence of sexual violence in armed conflict. It should help stakeholders deliver survivor- and victim-focused responses. He also took note that the technical infrastructure to combat such abuse was under construction. As the duty to implement Council resolutions lay primarily with Governments, he fully agreed with the focus on national ownership of the peacebuilding process. It was important that women’s role not be minimized in any way in such work, as their inputs were integral to enhancing civilian capacity.
CESARE MARIA RAGAGLINI (Italy) said the Secretary-General’s report showed that over the past year, several conflicts had taken place where sexual violence was widespread, and in some instances, used by armed groups to punish and humiliate civilian populations. Against such a backdrop, he said the major task before the international community was to step up its fight against impunity. “We cannot expect to eradicate sexual violence if we do not ensure that those who are responsible are systematically brought to justice,” he said, adding that the message must be clear: sexual violence was not cost-free. Welcoming in that regard the list of parties suspected of being responsible for a pattern of sexual violence, he urged that it become a basis for the Council’s increased engagement, including through referring such perpetrators to the International Criminal Court.
He said that as much as the international community must be committed to targeting perpetrators, it must be equally cognizant of the health, safety and dignity of victims and survivors. National and international post-conflict reconstruction and development programmes must ensure that their voices were heard and their needs were met. He also called for the adoption of national and regional early-warning measures and including women more regularly in peace talks. Finally, he reminded delegations that the report before the Council was not about numbers, it was about individuals and their often tragic stories. Those were the issues at stake, and all Member States must keep that in mind as they pressed ahead with the global effort to end sexual violence in conflict.
GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA (Nepal) said it was unacceptable that the sexual exploitation and abuse of women and girls continued to be carried out as a tactic of war. The international community must employ a comprehensive, coordinated and sustained effort to protect and promote women’s human rights, during and after conflict. That endeavour should involve structural reforms in the judicial, security and law enforcement sectors, as well as broader efforts to create an environment that promoted the dignity of women and girls. Turning to his own country, he said that since the signature of the Comprehensive Peace Accords in 2006, Nepal had come a long way towards ensuring women’s participation in decision-making.
Indeed, he continued, ensuring that women comprised more than one third of parliament had sent a powerful message regarding gender equality and had set off “deep reverberations of change” throughout Nepalese society. He said that Nepal had accorded priority to implementing the relevant Security Council resolutions on “women, peace and security”, as the country moved from conflict towards lasting peace, stability and economic development. The Government had also introduced an affirmative action policy in various civil service fields, and had adopted a number of other measures to bolster the fight against sexual and gender-based violence. Further, Nepal was committed to increasing the number of women in its army and police force, as well as in United Nations peacekeeping missions.
SHIN DONG-IK (Republic of Korea) said the Council had made significant progress in highlighting the egregious phenomenon of conflict-related sexual violence, while the Secretary-General’s report provided useful information on such abuse in conflict areas. He underlined the significance of ensuring accountability by eliminating impunity for sexual violence, which was essential for combating such abuse. Welcoming that the United Nations Team of Experts had been fully operational since May 2011, he encouraged it to enhance its assistance to Government, civilian and military justice systems
Further, he urged that more attention be given to sexual violence in post-conflict settings, as it was regrettable that few ceasefire or peace agreements included related provisions. He encouraged United Nations envoys and mediators to ensure that conflict-related sexual violence was properly addressed in preventive diplomacy efforts. More attention also must be given to the prevention of conflict-related sexual violence. Member States, donors and regional organizations must strengthen national and regional prevention mechanisms. For its part, the Republic of Korea had bolstered pre-deployment gender training for military and police personnel deploying to United Nations peacekeeping operations.
KAZUO KODAMA (Japan) expected that the monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements would be made fully functional in all situations experiencing conflict-related sexual violence, and help provide more specific information on such violence. Japan strongly condemned parties listed as suspected perpetrators of sexual violence in the Secretary-General’s report and called on them to make time-bound commitments to bring perpetrators to justice. If they failed to do so, the Security Council must respond with measures, including targeted measures, to hold the parties responsible.
On that note, he commended the Security Council Committee on the Democratic Republic of the Congo for its decision to add Ntabo Ntaberi Cheka to the sanctions list, adding that he was encouraged that the Guinean court had filed charges against Lieutenant Colonel Moussa Tiegboro Camara earlier this month. Japan encouraged countries to continue cooperating with the Team of Experts in hopes of strengthening the rule of law, improving their justice systems and reforming their security sectors. As for prevention, he welcomed the framework of early warning signs and encouraged all stakeholders to apply it to in their immediate responses to conflict. In sum, he welcomed UN Action’s strategic 2011-2012 framework and expected it would enhance its activities on the ground.
TIINA INTELMANN ( Estonia) said sexual violence could be a crime of international concern, especially if it was part of a widespread or systematic campaign. It was important to ensure accountability for such acts, which could be considered crimes against humanity. Besides causing victims to suffer indescribable physical harm, emotional trauma, stigma and social ostracism, sexual violence could also severely imperil the stability of communities, or erode peacebuilding and national reconciliation efforts. All that highlighted the need to combat impunity and international tribunals had long been at the forefront of that fight.
The International Criminal Court, through its founding Rome Statute, had paved the way for tremendous strides in that regard, through its identification of rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and forced pregnancy among its punishable acts. She said that the links bringing the United Nations and the Court together in the fight against sexual violence were clear, especially as the tribunal currently had six United Nations-backed situations before it. Yet, the Rome Statute limited the Court’s reach to its States parties and to crimes committed after 1 July 2002. Crimes falling outside those two criteria were considered the special responsibility of the States concerned, and where necessary, the Security Council. As that was the case, it was incumbent on the Security Council to effectively react to sexual violence when it likely rose to “the most serious crimes under international law”. The body’s actions must be based on credible reports and all other tools available to it.
GUILLERMO E. RISHCHYNSKI (Canada) strongly supported the Security Council’s recognition of the need to take effective measures to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence, including rape as a weapon of war, and called on the Council to ensure the implementation of increased accountability measures for those crimes, including monitoring and reporting, and holding those responsible for sexual violence to account. Welcoming the inclusion of the list of perpetrators in the Annex of the Secretary-General’s report, he also called on the Council to increase pressure on States to hold perpetrators of such violence to account. The Security Council also needed to ensure that its Sanctions Committee included criteria pertaining to acts of sexual violence such as rape as a weapon of war, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or forms of sexual violence of comparable gravity.
He further urged the Council to consistently address conflict-related sexual violence in its work, including by ensuring that preventing and responding to sexual violence was part of the mandated tasks of United Nations peace operations. In the upcoming mandate renewals of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) next month, mandate elements addressing sexual violence needed to be strengthened. He added that Canada supported the efforts of the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law for Sexual Violence in Conflict and the use of the early warning indicators, which were being piloted for use in selected operations, such as South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
ABDULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh) said his country was proud to have been a main co-sponsor of resolution 1325 (2000). The first decade after its adoption had seen some “praiseworthy” initiatives, including the creation of UN-Women and the appointment of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for sexual violence and armed conflict. But he was disappointed that violence against women and girls persisted, and further, that their suffering was compounded by their marginalization in peace processes. He underscored the need to do more to ensure the safety and security of women and girls, stressing the importance of fulfilling women’s economic needs and seeing their engagement at all levels of decision-making.
Describing Bangladesh’s experience, he said women occupied many top leadership positions in the country, while the constitution guaranteed gender equality within a broad framework of non-discrimination on the grounds of religion, race or gender. He also cited the adoption of a national policy for women’s advancement. Bangladeshi troops and police were doing an excellent job in various United Nations peacekeeping missions. The country also had recruited women in its regular police and military forces.
SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg), associating with the European Union, said the Secretary-General’s report painted a “very worrying” picture of how impunity relating to past human rights abuses undermined early recovery and peace consolidation. It was especially disturbing that alleged perpetrators of sexual violence, instead of being prosecuted, were often promoted to senior Government positions in national institutions. “The impunity of these high-ranking officers is unacceptable,” she asserted, urging the Council to employ all means available to address conflict-related sexual violence and increase pressure on perpetrators by adopting targeted and graduated measures in relevant sanctions committees.
She noted as a positive development the indictment by the Guinean Justice authorities of Lieutenant Colonel Moussa Tiegboro Camara as a suspected perpetrator of mass rape. For its part, Luxembourg supported women in armed conflict through a voluntary financial contribution to the Team of Experts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a subregional workshop was organized in November 2011 with the support of her country, to promote an exchange of experiences between women’s organization in the Great Lakes region. A workshop also would be held in South Sudan with Luxembourg’s support. Indeed, the fight against conflict-related sexual violence was a moral obligation to be fulfilled together.
JOSEPHINE OJIAMBO (Kenya) said that sexual violence was the most dehumanizing crime known to man. The international community had before it a framework to undertake more action to address such heinous crimes carried out during times of war. Prevention was the cornerstone of any strategy to address global challenges, and Kenya believed it was necessary to address the root causes of conflict — which in turn could spark acts of sexual violence. “Preventive diplomacy must be employed swiftly to protect potential victims and ensure that impunity can be nipped in the bud,” she said, adding that countries must also systematically integrate women’s views and voices in all peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities.
Turning to the Secretary-General’s report, she said the main thrust of resolution 1960 (2010) was the creation of an accountability system listing those parties credibly suspected of committing or responsible for patterns of sexual violence. Needless to say, there were no such ongoing patterns in Kenya, and, moreover, none of the activities reported regarding her country had taken place during the current reporting period. Therefore, the post-election violence in 2008 was “way outside” that period. In addition, information on Kenya had been lumped together with another situation with which there was no correlation. None of that was to say that appropriate action had not been taken, she said, explaining that the Attorney General and the Chief Justice had been holding ongoing consultations to deal with cases that had arisen at that time.
ANNE ANDERSON (Ireland) said that building on the interventions of Member States thus far, it was clear that the challenge “is to ensure that our outrage translates into determined and purposeful action, yielding early and measureable results”. The crimes outlined in the report were surrounded by taboos and silence; consistently underreported, and even when they were, unlikely to be followed up. “If there is any chance of penetrating this darkness, we need a strong and unwavering searchlight,” she said, underscoring that the Special Representative’s independent voice helped shine that steady light that would allow the international community to combat the “poisonous legacy” of sexual violence.
She said that the Secretary-General’s report, with its clear recommendations for the Council to increase pressure on perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence, “makes for difficult reading”. Yet, it also laid down a challenge: no longer could anyone claim ignorance about what was happening, or the scale of the crimes. “Nor can we claim lack of credible evidence as a rationale for inaction,” she said, saying that it was up to everyone — in the Security Council, the General Assembly and across the United Nations system — to take up their share of the responsibility.
ENRIQUE ROMÁN-MOREY ( Peru) called resolution 1325 (2000) a milestone for international law. Together with international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and other resolutions, it provided a framework for supporting women in conflict and post-conflict situations. Women’s full participation must be facilitated in building and consolidating peace. In that context, he urged incorporating a gender perspective into mission mandates and conflict solving processes. Violence against women and sexual violence should never be seen as an inevitable part of armed conflict.
Welcoming the Secretary-General’s report recognizing the joint work by DPKO, UN-Women and other actors on the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategy to respond to such abuse, he also encouraged UN-Women to contribute decisively to the implementation of peace and security resolutions. Combating impunity was essential to peacebuilding and States must enhance justice systems, so that perpetrators could be tried in a timely fashion. In post-conflict situations, it was vital to strengthen the rule of law, as well as women’s social, economic and political empowerment. The high-level consideration of the application of resolution 1325 (2000), proposed for 2015, would be an appropriate time to consider United Nations’ progress in fostering participation, protection, assistance and recovery.
LOUAY FALLOUH ( Syria) condemned all forms of sexual violence, especially in armed conflict, and stressed the need to bring perpetrators to justice, while avoiding selectivity. Indeed, Syria supported all efforts to end sexual violence related to conflict, punish perpetrators and end impunity. He rejected allegations in the Secretary-General’s report, urging caution and objectivity in addressing important humanitarian issues. He would have hoped that the authors would have associated the contents of the report with proof and facts, rather than allegations that could be traced to “hostile” media reports. The Government was ready to address any allegation of any case, so that perpetrators could be punished.
He said the Special Representative mentioned Syria in the report in the context of sexual violence, political strife and unrest, exceeding the mandate provided under resolutions 1888 (2009) and 1960 (2010). She had the right to draw the Council’s attention only to sexual violence in conflict or post-conflict situations. Recent developments in Syria had shown that misleading information was being spread in an unprecedented campaign to undermine the country’s stability. That campaign sought to undermine coexistence among Syrians, as well as the State, in favour of promoting extremism and terror. Syria had the exclusive duty to protect its people, respect human rights and guarantee those rights for all people residing in its territory, free from foreign intervention.
Further, Syria had addressed several letters to the Special Representative, he said, including about the presence of armed groups engaging in rape and the killing of women and girls. A DVD also had been sent that included confessions by members of those groups, which proved their responsibility for those crimes. The Special Representative had ignored those attempts to inform her, and instead chose to depend on unprofessional reports, so she could hold the Government responsible without any evidence. The Secretary-General and Special Representative also had ignored responses by the Syrian Government and information proved by public confessions. Those positions should be recognized as indirect participation in misleading public opinion. It was incitement to violence in all its forms, which could give rise to terrorist acts. He would have hoped the Special Representative would have sought to be objective. Finally, he said it was strange that the representative of the Israeli occupation authority, which had committed violence against women and girls in the Occupied Syrian Golan, preached about others, while his country continued such violence.
ZAHIR TANIN (Afghanistan) stated that after the cold war, the international community had increasingly faced a new form of war with a decrease in the number of inter-State conflicts and an increase in the prevalence of intra-State tension and violent non-State actors. The resulting atrocities had fuelled the application of international laws and norms in response and led to the establishment of vital bodies, such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1994 and the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict in 2010. In order to truly stop atrocities such as sexual violence, it was necessary to end the violence, wars, and conflict that bred them. Speaking of Afghanistan’s experience, he stated that war broke down all social contracts, eroded solidarity and trust, and led to a “militant anti-culture”.
However, he added, in the last ten years, after the fall of the Taliban, the Government of Afghanistan, with the support of the international community, had worked to put an end to violence in the country. Afghanistan had adopted the Elimination of Violence against Women law, which provided the Government with stronger judicial means to combat sexual violence. After its adoption, 600 cases had been opened by prosecutors throughout the country. Further, the provisions made for female political power in the Constitution were helping to guide Afghanistan towards ensuring a real voice for women in the public discourse.
Those accomplishments, he stated, were only the first steps towards achieving gender equality and the Afghan Government would continue to dedicate itself to the eradication of sexual violence and to the advancement of women’s rights.
CARLOS ENRIQUE GARCÍA GONZÁLEZ (El Salvador) said existing Security Council resolutions had made it possible to consider the increasing complexities of conflict and post-conflict transition through a gender perspective. Progress had already been achieved with resolution 1325 (2000), he said. However, there was still a consistent lack of information on women in conflict-affected areas. He said the Secretary-General should include more systematic and broad information on acts of sexual and gender-based violence in all reports on conflict situations.
He recognized the progress also made in peacekeeping operations mandates, including in cases of Libya, Guinea Bissau, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Haiti and Afghanistan. He also stressed that El Salvador was committed to promoting and implementing resolution 1325 (2000) in all areas affecting the lives of women and girls.
YANERIT MORGAN ( Mexico) said one of the main obstacles facing the international community was bringing those responsible for crimes of sexual violence to justice and putting an end to impunity. The Security Council must take strong measures against perpetrators and make use of all the means at its disposal, including sanctions. Only a few cases had taken into account the Secretary-General’s recommendation to include sexual violence in cease-fire agreements and in peace and reconciliation processes. “If we do not address this issue in a comprehensive manner, there is a high risk that sexual violence will continue to be used as a tactic of war,” she said.
At national levels, effective frameworks of legislatures to end impunity were necessary, as were education programmes to prevent the stigmatization of victims, which was one of the root causes of impunity. She called for the Group of Experts to continue to generate synergies between existing United Nations agencies and mechanisms that had experience on the topic. However, to achieve tangible results, there should be no duplication of existing mechanisms and mandates. The fight against sexual violence during armed conflict was a long fight, she said, noting that now the international community could count on a comprehensive institutional framework, which should be continuously strengthened.
MÅRTEN GRUNDITZ (Sweden), also speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway, stated that the provision of United Nations-verified, safely and ethically collected information on conflict-related sexual violence was not a minor achievement, given that those crimes were hard to investigate and prosecute under the best circumstances. His delegation supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to the Council to increase pressure on perpetrators through measures by relevant sanctions committees. It was also necessary to ensure coordination with the monitoring and reporting mechanism on children and armed conflict and regular human rights monitoring. In that context, he commended the important work undertaken by the Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict and the Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict.
In order to combat sexual violence, he added, it was particularly important to bring about institutional reforms in two sectors: security and justice. Training and capacity-building of the national security actors should aim at a real shift in attitude from a conflict-management posture to the provision of citizen and community security. More women should be recruited and trained to serve in the security sector, including in leading positions, and the security sector should be placed under democratic control and accountability mechanisms, including accountability to local communities.
Further, he stated, while international inquiries and high-profile trials served an important function, national-level legal and justice sector reforms were also important to combat impunity and deter sexual violence in the long term. Commending the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law for developing a focused way to support Governments, he said that enhanced access to justice should be accompanied by enhanced reparations for victims.
PALITHA T. B. KOHONA (Sri Lanka) said given the dire realities faced by women in conflict situations, his country was making every effort to ensure that their lives returned to normalcy. That included setting up women’s protection units, with women police officers, as well as shelters in internally displaced persons camps, which provided counselling services in the formerly conflict-affected north and east. Sri Lanka had, after three decades, entered a post-conflict phase in 2009 and still faced many challenges, including resettlement, rebuilding livelihoods, rehabilitation and reconstruction, and bringing normalcy to conflict-affected areas. Women were at the centre of many economic rehabilitation activities, and the Government of Sri Lanka had developed a national action plan to promote and protect human rights.
A recent Commission of Inquiry on Lessons Learned and Reconciliation (LLRC) offered the public detailed observations and recommendations on international humanitarian law issues and grievances, in particular of women, relating to the final phase of the conflict. Courses of action will also need to be taken based on the report’s suggestions, he said. Considerable progress since 2009 included infrastructure and economic development programmes, as well as significant gains towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. However, resource limitations constrained those efforts, he said. His country had had a constructive engagement with the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict. In this area, reporting from the field must contain verifiable information and monitoring missions should not confuse common criminal activity with such gender-based violence, as such a distortion would smack of politically motivated targeting of Member States. Sri Lanka supported gender parity in United Nations peacekeeping activities, and as such had completed training to deploy an all-female battalion of 855 personnel and 28 officers.
JUAN PABLO DE LAIGLESIA (Spain) said in recent months his country’s national plan on resolution 1325 (2000) had been implemented in a number of ways. Part of the plan included training personnel in peacebuilding missions, which would be held every six months alternating between Spain and the Netherlands. In addition, awareness-raising courses targeting personnel slated for peacekeeping missions were also being held on topics covering sexual violence in armed conflict situations, as well as gender-related issues. Forthcoming meetings, including one in Kigali later this year, would also include courses on related topics, he said.
He said that Spain’s national plan was in the process of being reviewed and revisions would include current gender-related issues that were being discussed in the Council. He said his country hoped that the Council would continue to invite the Special Representative to update members on the critical issues concerning women in conflict situations.
CHARLES THEMBANI NTWAAGAE (Botswana) said his country was deeply concerned about the rising levels of sexual violence used as weapons of war in some countries. While recognizing that conflict and post-conflict situations could weaken national justice systems, he said “inaction could send a wrong message that sexual violence is tolerated”. He called upon all concerned parties to refrain from such human rights abuses and promote respect of international humanitarian law. The importance of demonstrating commitment and political will by prosecuting those responsible could not be overemphasized, he said, adding that States must, among other things, strengthen efforts to implement a zero-tolerance policy, and increase access to assistance to victims.
Commending the Secretary-General’s effort to address the under-representation of women in formal peace processes, he welcomed the inclusion of women in peacekeeping missions in civil, military and police functions. National and international efforts to address gender issues in the context of combating conflict-related sexual violence must be accelerated, he said, emphasizing that effective steps to prevent and respond to acts of sexual violence could significantly contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security. For its part, Botswana had accomplished considerable achievements in the protection of women from all forms of violence and in ensuring a safe and secure environment where their rights were protected. Given the current collective will, especially in the Security Council, he said it was possible to bring an end to those “despicable crimes”.
GAREN NAZARIAN ( Armenia) said he was concerned with a disturbing trend of using sexual violence as a military tool. Combating that scourge demanded a multilateral approach and those responsible must be brought to justice. Unless perpetrators were prosecuted, amnesty would be granted to future crimes, he said. Reporting and data collection of crimes of sexual violence were critical, as those cases were traditionally under-reported. Timely analysis of the data could provide the Council with a means to taking action.
However, more fundamental changes were needed on the societal level, as well. The Council’s effectiveness was based in its ability to focus on its agenda. However, it was unfortunate that one member had raised inappropriate issues. His country remained committed to working with the Council and related bodies to address the issues being discussed.
DAFFA-ALLA ELHAG ALI OSMAN ( Sudan) said Sudan’s respect of women’s rights dated back to 1954, when women participated in the election of the first Parliament. Equal work for equal pay was enshrined in 1967 and equal pension age was established by a 2003 law. Since 2008, women make up at least one quarter of Parliament, and men had become the minority in the civil services, with women comprising 60 per cent of personnel. There were also 80 female magistrates, including Supreme Court judges, he said.
He said his country stood firmly against crimes against women and, in 2007, Sudan adopted a national strategy to enhance and upgrade the position of women, including participation in decision-making, education, health, and dispute settlement. Specialized national programmes on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration had given special priority to women.
However, violence against women in Darfur was caused mainly by the armed groups, who camouflaged themselves in military-like uniforms to throw blame on the Sudanese armed forces. He said the Secretary-General’s report on sexual violence in armed conflict had included a paragraph on his country that indicated those perpetrating sexual violence against women in Darfur were wearing military uniforms, which did not reflect reality. The Security Council must send strong signals to those groups. For its part, Sudan recently established the Human Rights National Commission, with a women director, as well as a special court in Darfur to look into cases since 2003, including violence against women. All perpetrators of violence against women would be brought to justice.
He appealed to the Council to bring further pressure on armed movements in Darfur, the Blue Nile and South Kordofan to accept the principles of negotiations with a view to arriving at solutions through peaceful means, and hoped the Council would take the necessary measures that would rely on reports containing correct and accurate information, and not untrue reports coming from some mass media and non-governmental organizations.
OTHMAN JERANDI (Tunisia) reiterated his country’s long-standing commitment to promoting gender equality, recalling that it was a co-sponsor of resolution 1325 (2000). Indeed, the image of women in conflict should change from humiliated victims to active partners in prevention, mediation and conflict resolution processes. Awareness had increased about the many forms of violence against women, as well as threats such abuse created for their safety. It was important to give women a prime role in both keeping and building peace. Council debates had led to significant innovations, including the appointment of the Special Representative and creation of women protection advisers. For its part, Tunisia had implemented an action plan for implementing resolution 1325, which aimed to improve pre-deployment training, with stress on measures to protect women from all forms of violence.
Despite such progress, much work must be done to achieve all the objectives in resolution 1325. National ownership of such resolutions was the best way to ensure their implementation. States must take awareness raising measures, while civil society should strengthen women’s role, in that context, helping to amplify women’s voices. Tunisia, which acceded to the Rome Statute, believed it was essential to promote international assistance to help Governments develop early warning systems, and prosecute perpetrators. Women were the first to be displaced, inside and outside their countries, and live in refugee camps. Palestinian women endured pressure due to Israeli practices.
SEYED MOHAMMAD ALI MOTTAGHI NEJAD (Iran) said the Israeli regime’s representative had diverted attention from the main discussion and levelled allegations about his country. He had referred to women in Iran, comments which Iran strongly disputed. It would have been better for the Israeli representative to discuss the thousands of Palestinian women and girls who had fallen victim to the behaviour of his regime. He could cite several human rights violations committed by that regime. But “we should stick to the main issues at hand,” he said. The Council was not the proper platform for a member of a regime that had violated human rights to preach about such rights.
Making a further statement, the representative of Azerbaijan said that the comments made by Armenia’s representative were an attempt to mislead the Council. This member was the only one among the speakers that tried to justify acts of systematic and widespread violence committed against civilians, including women and girls, he said. He was confident a careful reading of international documents would convince Armenia’s representative not to take the floor with such issues. It was undisputable that, as an occupying power, Armenia bore responsibility for those actions.
Also speaking again, Israel’s representative said Iran’s delegate’s comments insulted the intelligence of everyone in the room. As could be seen in Georgia, India and Thailand, Iran was a prime sponsor of terrorism, she said. Iran also provided arms to Hizbullah and other groups and committed human rights violations, including religious persecution.
Armenia’s representative, again taking the floor, said he regretted the policy of repeated unchanged rhetoric of Azerbaijan’s delegate, whose comments were misleading. Reference to Security Council resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh were used in a selective and self-serving manner. Azerbaijan’s refusal to engage in negotiations with authorities in the area was the main obstacle to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict. The Security Council was a forum for serious exchanges, he said.
Speaking again, the representative of Azerbaijan said it was curious that Armenia’s representative tried to lecture a victim of aggression. The Government of Armenia had purged the areas of all non-Armenians, which showed that its representative here should be the last person to talk of human rights. Nagorno-Karabakh was part of Azerbaijan, he said. Armenia’s stance was an open challenge and a serious threat to international peace and security.
The representative of Armenia, making another statement, said Azerbaijan’s representative had brazenly tried to shift the responsibility, and put the blame on others to hide its own crimes and provocations. It was unethical to deliver inflammatory statements in the Council. Rather than delivering such appalling statements as a propaganda tool, Azerbaijan should do its part in conducting an investigation. Such cheap steps and statements were a shameful practice and should not be tolerated by this august body.
Speaking after the debate, Ms. Wallström thanked Council members for what was a serious, constructive and principled debate. “If any issue should unite us, this is the one,” she said.
Noting that a repeated word throughout the meeting was “prevention”, she said that to truly deliver on the promise of prevention, the Council could not afford to delay response.
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