17 December 2010

Women ‘Watching and Waiting’, Special Representative Says as Security Council Concludes Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict

17 December 2010
Security Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6453rd Meeting (Resumed) (AM)

Women ‘Watching and Waiting’, Special Representative Says as Security Council

Concludes Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict


“Women now are watching and waiting,” Margot Wallström, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, told the Security Council today as it concluded its debate on that subject.

Pledging not to rest until sexual violence in conflict situations had been eliminated, she said that, with the Council’s unanimous adoption of resolution 1960 (2010) yesterday, the tools to end it were available and now they must be used.  However, implementation of the resolution’s provisions required sustained resolve and resources, she added.

Other speakers stressed the urgent need to put measures in place to end impunity for sexual violence during armed conflict, as mandated by resolution 1960 (2010), and called on the Council to use the instruments available to it, including sanctions and referrals to the International Criminal Court.

“Neither silence, tolerance, nor impunity are an option when facing the perpetrators,” Costa Rica’s representative said, speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network.  Sustainable peace was not possible without the participation of women, he added, calling for the systematic inclusion of women in peace-related activities and their meaningful participation at all levels.

Also speaking today were representatives of Portugal, Switzerland, Slovenia, Colombia, India, Kenya, Argentina, Chile, Spain and Georgia.

The representative of the European Union also delivered a statement.

Speaking in response to the statement by Georgia’s delegate was the representative of the Russian Federation.

Having been suspended yesterday evening, the meeting resumed today at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 11:25 a.m.


Meeting this morning to continue its debate on women, peace and security, the Security Council had before it the reports of the Secretary-General on the implementation of its resolutions 1820 (2008) and 1888 (2009) (document S/2010/604).  For further information on yesterday’s meeting, including on resolution 1960 (2010), see Press Release SC/10122.


PEDRO SERRANO, Acting Head of Delegation, European Union, said the daily occurrence of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict underscored the need for the international community to make a concerted effort to, among other things, strengthen both the rule of law and people’s access to functioning judicial systems in fragile countries.  There were alarming reports of sexual violence from a range of countries, including some not on the Council’s agenda, he said, adding that in light of the prevailing impunity for most such cases, the European Union welcomed the Secretary-General’s report.

Noting that combatants who had used sexual torture or sexual violence as a war tactic were often granted amnesty “in the name of peace”, he emphasized that there could be no sustainable peace unless perpetrators were prosecuted and justice for victims assured.  The European Union called for the imposition of targeted and graduated measures on all parties to instances of sexual violence.  Urging the Council to reaffirm its commitment to integrate the gender quality dimension and the protection of civilians from sexual and gender-based violence into all peacekeeping operation mandates, he also emphasized the need for a deeper understanding of the connection between violence against women and their ability to participate in conflict prevention, conflict management, peacebuilding and development.

Turning to the activities of the European Union he cited the 17 monitoring indicators that it had adopted as part of its “comprehensive approach” to implementing resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008).  He also pointed out that the European Union had allocated more than €300 million to programmes in 67 countries that addressed the needs and rights of women and girls in conflict-affected and post-conflict situations.  New funding would be provided under its Instrument for Stability for relevant civil society projects.

On the European Union’s crisis management missions, many of them carrying out specific actions in the area of sexual and gender-based violence, he highlighted the programme in Afghanistan, which included assistance and training of the family response units in the country’s Criminal Investigation Department, as well as the special Violence against Women Unit within the office of the Attorney-General.  All those and other efforts demonstrated the European Union’s strong support for the work of the United Nations in combating sexual violence in armed conflict, he said.

JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL ( Portugal) said the mass rapes in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo emphasized the need for further action by the international community.  Existing tools could be consolidated by ensuring adequate funding for the Office of the Special Representative and the team of experts on the rule of law.  Consolidation could also be achieved by assessing the need for women-protection advisers in relevant peacekeeping operations.

Emphasizing that the Council could also become more effective, he said it must have better access to timely, objective, accurate and reliable information on sexual violence in situations on its agenda.  Portugal, therefore, supported strongly the decision reflected in the resolution in that regard and hoped the proposed mechanism would have the same level of success as that on the situation of children in armed conflict.

A better informed Council was in a better position to take action, he continued, pointing out that it would be able to take timely further steps in influencing parties to comply with international law and to make specific commitments regarding the prevention of sexual violence and the investigation of alleged abuses.  If those measures did not restrain the perpetration of sexual violence, the Council should employ a more focused engagement with those credibly suspected of responsibility, sending a clear message that it was ready to apply sanctions against them.

PAUL SEGER ( Switzerland) said he supported the establishment of a monitoring and reporting mechanism that should take into consideration the experiences of the mechanism on the six grave violations against children in armed conflict.  It was also important to increase pressure on parties to conflict and on individuals to comply with international humanitarian and human rights law, and to reinforce efforts to end impunity.  The Council had a range of tools in that regard, including the use of sanctions and referral to the International Criminal Court.  He encouraged the Council to make full use of the available tools in order to “provide teeth” to the agenda item.

He expressed support for the idea of specific and time-bound commitments by all parties to conflict to cease acts of sexual violence in situations on the Council’s agenda.  The rapid deployment of response teams on the rule of law was an example of supporting that aim, he said, encouraging United Nations agencies to continue efforts to increase the capacity of their staff in matters of conflict-related sexual violence.  Inviting the Council to link thematic and geographical issues in a systematic manner, he noted that it was crucial to include thematic cross-cutting issues when considering a conflict situation.  After all, sexual violence had become a characteristic of many conflicts and, therefore, called for a consistent approach by the Council.

SANJA ŠTIGLIC ( Slovenia) associated her delegation with the European Union and with the statement to be delivered by Costa Rica on behalf of the Human Security Network.  She emphasized the utmost importance of combating impunity, stressing also the crucial role of international criminal justice, in particular the International Criminal Court.  Slovenia supported the recommendations for targeted measures in that regard, as well as those on monitoring and reporting.

Much work remained to be done in the field of victim’s assistance, particularly for disabled women, who faced heightened vulnerability to violence and exploitation, she said.  Welcoming the steps taken by the United Nations to better prepare peacekeepers, she said she looked forward to a strategic framework on civilian protection and new training modules.  A month ago Slovenia had adopted a national action plan for the implementation of Council resolutions on women and peace and security, she said, evoking the extreme harm done by sexual violence.  It created a vicious cycle that must end.

NESTOR OSORIO ( Colombia) expressed regret that armed groups continued to perpetrate sexual violence, saying that models and practices that could be adopted in the field were fundamental to enhancing national capacities.  Strengthening the rule of law was also an essential element, he added, agreeing that women’s participation in maintaining and consolidating peace helped create an atmosphere of trust that could benefit the exposure of sexual crimes.

He said his country had deployed two female police officers with a strong human rights background as part of its contribution to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).  He expressed hope that cooperation mechanisms, constructive dialogue and effective support for States could be promoted, in compliance with Security Council resolutions.  He also underlined the contribution that the General Assembly could make to strengthening cooperation with States in carrying out the complex tasks required.

HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) said sexual violence was not merely a consequence of conflict but a driver that perpetuated conflict and locked its victims into a vicious cycle of violence and oppression.  The international community had an obligation to do its utmost to ensure the security of women and children.  Recalling his involvement with the negotiations that had led to the creation of UN Women, he expressed high expectations for women’s empowerment under the new gender entity.  The resolution adopted yesterday would add a number of new dimensions to the ongoing work in that area, but its implementation would remain a work in progress for some time, he said, pledging to remain seriously engaged with both the evolution of the normative framework and its implementation.

The monitoring and reporting mechanism, in particular, required close supervision by Member States to ensure its veracity, credibility and transparency, he said.  Resources must be made available for all such mechanisms, and accountability must be established “for those who mandate but do not provide resources”.  As the largest troop-contributing country in the United Nations, Indian peacekeepers must convert the Council’s intent into deeds, he said, stressing that it could do much more in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere if more resources, capacities and enablers were made available.  In addition, national capacities to adjudicate and punish must be strengthened to ensure that justice was done.  The United Nations Secretariat, as well as its funds and programmes, could do more to ensure the protection and empowerment of women.

EDUARDO ULIBARRI (Costa Rica), speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network, stressed the need for the United Nations to provide coherent and strategic leadership, including by allocating appropriate resources for the implementation of the Special Representative’s mandate.  Progress towards the implementation of cross-cutting gender commitments, particularly in the area of curbing and punishing perpetrators and protecting against conflict-related sexual violence, had not been satisfactory.  The Network strongly supported the establishment of monitoring, reporting and analysis arrangements given the crucial need for timely, objective and reliable information so as to address the issue in a comprehensive and systematic manner.  The information should form the basis for further Council action, including the adoption of sanctions and other targeted measures, he said.

Emphasizing that sexual violence was unacceptable at any time, he called on parties to armed conflict to make concrete commitments to cease such actions.  All necessary steps, including targeted measures, must be taken to protect individuals, hold perpetrators accountable and provide remedy to victims.  Underlining the importance of ending impunity, he urged the Council to refer relevant cases to the International Criminal Court.  Women’s full enjoyment of all human rights was a high priority for the Human Security Network, he said.  While it was crucial to maintain the momentum in combating sexual violence, it was also important to empower women as part of the solution.  Their participation in peace-related activities remained unsatisfactory, he stressed, calling for their systematic inclusion and meaningful participation at all levels.  Sustainable peace was not possible without the participation of women, he said, adding:  “Neither silence, tolerance nor impunity are an option when facing the perpetrators.”  That message should emanate clearly from the Security Council and resonate with all Member States.

JOSEPHINE OJIAMBO ( Kenya) said there could be no peace without the peace of mind that enabled women to undertake their daily tasks, no justice without a national capacity to deliver peace, and no security without women’s security.  For those reasons, the topic at hand deserved the international community’s unrelenting support, she said, welcoming in that context the appointment of and country visits by Special Representative Margot Wallström and the establishment of a team of experts on the rule of law.  She urged Member States to ensure that the team had sustainable funding to facilitate its work.

Underscoring the important role of women-protection advisers, she called for caution in ensuring that the proposal to decide on their deployment on a case-by-case basis did not cause delays.  Partnerships between States and other international cooperation was critical, she said, commending in that context, the crucial work being carried out by the United Nations system and calling for the support needed to put in place the necessary infrastructure for ensuring that victims of sexual violence received quality judicial and medical assistance.  She concluded by calling for great participation by women in peace processes and reiterating her country’s commitment to full implementation of all relevant Council resolutions.

JORGE ARGÜELLO ( Argentina) described conflict-related sexual violence as “a constant” in all stages of conflict, saying it was frequently accompanied by other crimes, such as indiscriminate killing, torture, forced displacement and looting.  The international community must continue to urge armed groups to end those horrific practices and support efforts by States to end the impunity that surrounded them.  Argentina’s selection and training of peacekeepers took the relevant peacekeeping code of conduct into account, he said.

He said he supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations, in particular those on listing parties that had engaged in patterns of sexual violence, the application of targeted measures and the establishment of monitoring and reporting arrangements to ensure a coherent and coordinated approach at the field level.  Argentina also supported the recommendation to call on parties to conflict to make specific, time-bound commitments to cease all sexual violence and to ensure systematic consideration of sexual violence in authorizing and renewing the mandates of peacekeeping and special political missions.

OCTAVIO ERRAZURIZ ( Chile) said conflict-related sexual violence, which usually affected the most vulnerable groups, represented a threat to security and a persistent obstacle to peacebuilding.  The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court had defined six types of sexual violence as a crime against humanity.  Resolutions 1820 (2008) and 1888 (2009) had enabled the international community to focus on prevention and real-time responses, he said, welcoming the Secretary-General’s report and urging his Special Representative to avoid duplication with other mandates.

He welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendations, including those on sanctions and the listing of parties responsible for patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence.  He called on the Council to engage decisively in the implementation of the available instruments and urged the international community to commit itself to concerted action and accountability regarding prevention and protection.

JUAN PABLO DE LAIGLESIA ( Spain) said the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war could become a way of life that continued even after the end of a conflict.  While such violence was often considered a private aspect of interpersonal relationships, it was a war crime and a violation of human rights that exacerbated impunity, he stressed.  Combating impunity should, therefore, be the main priority, to be judged in the right forums, including the International Criminal Court.

Describing resolutions 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009) and 1960 (2010) as the principal instruments for combating conflict-related sexual violence, he emphasized that the resolutions were not enough if their provisions were not implemented.  Spain supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations, as well as the Special Representative’s agenda of priorities.  Underlining the importance of training peacekeepers to combat sexual violence, he called for the allocation of the necessary resources for that task.  Spain and the Netherlands had launched a joint civilian-military training programme on the protection of civilians, he said, adding that his country had amended its Criminal Code to address the issue.

SHALVA TSISKARASHVILI ( Georgia), associating himself with the European Union, welcomed the adoption of resolution 1960 (2010) and institutional efforts to fight sexual violence.  Unfortunately, despite such action over the past 10 years, the plight of women and girls in armed conflict remained tragic.  The recent war in Georgia was no exception, he said, noting that international organizations had recorded cruel abuse of women, including sexual violence and other humiliating treatment.  Monitoring groups had been banned under the occupation, he said, stressing that the international community should not tolerate the current state of affairs.

MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, thanked all those who had participated in the debate.  She said that, with the Council’s adoption of the new resolution, the tools were available and now they must be used.  Implementation required sustained resolve and resources, she said, adding that her Office would deploy experts on the rule of law to help fight impunity.  It would work for an effective response by the United Nations community and continue to amplify the voices of survivors.  “Women now are watching and waiting,” she said, pledging not to rest until sexual violence in conflict was ended.

STANISLAV TOLKACH ( Russian Federation), speaking in response to the statement by the representative of Georgia, said the conflict to which he had referred had resulted from that country’s aggression against two independent States — South Ossetia and Abkhazia — and, as such, there was no occupation.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.