Thank you very much, Madam President, for convening this important meeting on conflict-related sexual violence, an issue of grave importance to the innumerable civilians who have been affected, to all of us around this table, and to the entire United Nations system.
I welcome Rwanda’s initiative and your presence here today. I also thank the Security Council for its recognition of this matter as a serious concern for international peace and security.
War-time rape not only destroys individual lives, it lays waste to families and communities. It is also an impediment to reconciliation and sustainable development.
Thanks to this Council, the world now has a solid framework for preventing and addressing conflict-related sexual violence.
Security Council resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888 and 1960 help guide the work of UN agencies, Member States and other stakeholders.
My dynamic and persuasive Special Representative on this issue carries out global advocacy.
Other important actors and tools include the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law/Sexual Violence in Conflict, the Women Protection Advisors and the Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Arrangements.
The report now before you reflects the progressive improvement of analysis and data over the past few years, which is a direct result of greater awareness on the ground and strengthened capacities of missions to monitor, investigate and respond.
As we learn more about sexual violence being used as a tactic of war, certain patterns are becoming clear.
One is that the negative effects of war-time rape persist long after the guns fall silent. From the Balkans to Africa, UN entities and others continue to provide vital medical and psychosocial support to victims and survivors.
Another pattern we see is that, although this vicious crime disproportionately affects women and girls, men and boys are also targeted.
My Special Representative has also noted other emerging trends, including the link between conflict-related sexual violence and illegal exploitation of natural resources; the impact of sexual violence on displacement; and the importance of addressing sexual violence during cease-fire negotiations, wider peace processes and security sector reform efforts.
Building on the work of her predecessor, and of the 13-entity UN Action Against Sexual Violence network which she chairs, my Special Representative has continued to fight impunity for conflict-related sexual violence.
Ms. Bangura has stressed prosecution as a means of prevention. But she has also emphasized the importance of national ownership and leadership, which I fully support.
The Prosecution Support Cells in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, created by the Government with MONUSCO’s support, are a positive example of combining the two approaches. Other peacekeeping operations intend to carry out similar projects.
The Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement for the DRC and the region also represents an opportunity to address the root causes of conflict-related sexual violence.
Ultimately, however, we must strengthen our collective efforts to prevent sexual violence in the first place.
Our peacekeeping missions in Sudan, South Sudan and the DRC, together with UN Country Teams, are working to establish Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Arrangements. This is a priority which I hope we can accomplish before the end of the year.
Together with tools such as OHCHR’s updated human rights database, the UN High Commission for Refugee’s protection monitoring project, and other information systems, we will be better placed to systematically identify trends and patterns and thereby become better at preventing these crimes.
The sustainability of this work requires funding. We have now deployed eight Women Protection Advisors in South Sudan, where UNMISS is the first peace mission to budget for and appoint WPAs. We are also recruiting WPAs for our missions in the DRC, Côte d’Ivoire and the Central Africa Republic. I call on Member States to provide adequate resources for the deployment of additional WPAs in these and other situations of concern. We must make this a regular feature of planning and budgeting.
I would also like to call for sustained funding for the Team of Experts that works to strengthen the capacity of national rule of law and justice actors. The Team has worked with the authorities in Colombia, the DRC, Guinea, Liberia and South Sudan, and could do even more with the necessary backing.
Preventing sexual violence is, first and foremost, a responsibility of States, in particular the security forces which are often the perpetrators of this grave human rights violation.
But prevention is also a collective responsibility. To succeed, we must use all the tools at our disposal.
This includes our peacekeeping and political missions, our mediation efforts and our efforts to protect human rights and deliver humanitarian assistance.
It encompasses the work of all those involved in building peace in the aftermath of conflict, from restoring the rule of law and advancing gender equality to promoting early recovery and longer-term development,
As we deepen this effort, I look forward to your sustained leadership and support.