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Updated On: Monday, 22 July 2019

Security Council Adopts Resolution Calling upon Belligerents Worldwide to Adopt Concrete Commitments on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict

Content by: UN General Assembly
Members Pass Resolution 2467 (2019) by 13 Votes in Favour, None against, as China, Russian Federation Abstain

The Security Council called today upon warring parties around the globe to implement concrete commitments to fight what many speakers described as the heinous, barbaric and all-too-often silent phenomenon of sexual violence during conflict.

Adopting resolution 2467 (2019) by a vote of 13 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation), during a wide-ranging debate on the prevention and implications of sexual violence, the Council reiterated its demand for the complete cessation of all acts of sexual violence by all parties to armed conflict.

Calling upon the latter to implement specific, time-bound commitments to combat the crime, the Council welcomed efforts by the Secretary-General, his Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and other relevant officials in seeking such commitments and implementation plans, aimed at preventing and addressing all acts and forms of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations.

The Council reiterated its deep concern that — despite its repeated condemnation of violence against women and children in situations of armed conflict, including sexual violence — the phenomenon continues to occur, often with impunity, and in some situations has become systematic and widespread, or reached appalling levels of brutality.

Encouraging Member States to adopt a survivor-cantered approach to ensure that survivors receive the care required by their specific needs without discrimination, the Council also called upon parties to conflict to include stipulations prohibiting such crimes in all ceasefire and peace agreements.  It further urged States to recognize the equal rights of all affected individuals — including women, girls and children born of sexual violence — in national legislation and recognized the need to integrate prevention, response and elimination of the crime into all relevant Council resolutions, including authorizations and renewals of the mandates of peace missions.

Further by the terms of the resolution, the Council urged existing sanctions committees — where within the scope of the relevant designation criteria and consistent with the present and other relevant resolutions — to apply targeted sanctions against those who perpetrate and direct sexual violence during conflict.  It reiterated its intention to consider including designation criteria pertaining to acts of rape and other forms of sexual violence when adopting or renewing targeted sanctions in situations of armed conflict.

Several experts, high-profile activists and survivors briefed the Council at the outset.  Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad from Iraq recalled that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) enslaved thousands of Yazidi girls and women before the eyes of the world in a genocide that continues today.  The social fabric of an entire society has been torn and the hopes of entire generations wasted, she said, recalling that her repeated calls for the creation of a working group to rescue those still missing or held in captivity have fallen upon deaf ears.  While Yazidi girls and women broke the barriers of silence, stigma and fear by telling their stories, not a single person has been tried for sexual enslavement crimes, she pointed out.

Denis Mukwege, another Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, contrasted today’s international landscape to that of 10 years ago, when many doubted the link between sexual violence and peace and security.  Today, no political or military official can continue to overlook the fact that the use of rape and sexual violence as tools of terror is a violation of international law, he emphasized.  Expressing support for all initiatives seeking to draw a red line against such barbaric actions, he pressed the United Nations and Governments to adopt sanctions against perpetrators.  “Healing is complete only when justice has been served,” he stressed, welcoming the adopted resolution’s focus on children born of rape, the need for a survivor-centred approach, the imposition of sanctions, ensuring justice and accountability, and providing reparations.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict declared:  “Wars are still being fought on and over the bodies of women and girls.”  She added that in the 10 years of her mandate, “a crime that has often been called ‘history’s greatest silence’ has seized the consciousness of the international community and global action has escalated in an unprecedented way”.  However, the pace of implementation remains slow and criminal accountability largely elusive, she said, adding that sexual violence casts a long shadow over humanity, undermining the prospect of peace and development.  Calling for tailor-made responses to the unique circumstances of each situation, she stressed the urgent need to ensure comprehensive health services for survivors.  “Yet, if we are ever to prevent these crimes from occurring in the first place, we must confront the unacceptable reality that it is still largely ‘cost-free’ to rape a woman, a child or a man in armed conflicts around the world,” she noted.

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the decade since the establishment and mandating of the Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict has seen a paradigm shift in the world’s understanding of the crime of sexual violence in conflict.  While an increasing number of Governments are demonstrating their willingness to pursue justice and provide services for survivors, “sexual violence continues to fuel conflict and severely impacts the prospects for lasting peace”.  Indeed, the reality on the ground remains unchanged, with sexual violence continuing to constitute a horrific feature of conflicts around the globe, he added.

Barrister Amal Clooney shared her experience providing legal counsel to women previously kidnapped, bought, sold, enslaved and raped by ISIL.  She recalled that as the group’s territorial presence declined, Nadia Murad and other survivors called upon the Council to send investigators to gather evidence in Iraq, and just weeks ago the exhumation of mass graves and the identification of victims remains began.  However, the trials brought against suspects do not include charges of sexual violence and do not stand as a measure of justice for Yazidis, she emphasized.  Laying out several legal options — including referral to the International Criminal Court — she recalled that similar discussions about the value of justice emerged after the Second World War.  “If this august body cannot prevent sexual violence in war, then it must at least punish it,” she stressed, adding:  “This is your Nuremburg moment.”

Inas Miloud, Chairperson of the Tamazight Women’s Movement, said her group has been working with indigenous women affected by sexual and gender-based violence in Libya since that country’s 2011 revolution.  Hundreds of testimonies outline a common pattern of physical violence, rape, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, abduction and domestic violence, all underpinned by patriarchal norms, she added.  Citing the unchecked flow of weapons into Libya and decades-old discrimination against indigenous minorities, she said the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement fails to reflect such crucial issues as gender equality, sexual and gender-based violence and fear of reprisals for activism.

More than 90 delegates also took the floor, with many expressing outrage over the continued prevalence of a crime as abominable to humanity as sexual violence in conflict.  While some hailed the adoption of the resolution and welcomed the concrete recommendations laid out in the Secretary-General’s most recent report (document S/2019/280), others emphasized that not enough is being done to tackle the crime’s root causes.

Germany’s Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs underlined the need to strengthen accountability for sexual violence in conflict and to improve the channels through which information on non-compliance reaches the Council.  Emphasizing the importance of targeted sanctions and criminal prosecution at the national level, he pointed out that a deadly culture of impunity already exists in many places around the world.  “Those who suffer sexual violence often remain victims long after the crimes are committed,” he said, underscoring the importance of addressing the persistent stigma suffered by survivors.

Lebanon’s representative said conflict is synonymous with women who suffer indelible traumas when their bodies are turned into assault weapons.  Cautioning against reducing terrorism to a simple ideology, she spotlighted the moral and ethical imperative to prevent both State and non-State actors from brandishing women’s bodies as weapons against them.  Urging strict respect for international humanitarian law in times of war, she said the involvement of women in negotiations ensures a path towards sustainable peace.  She added that the Council must move from the silence of humiliation to the courage of truth, from indifference to compassion and from injustice to redress.

Several speakers recounted national experiences in seeking to heal the rifts and wounds of war.  Sri Lanka’s delegate said her country is emerging from a 30-year conflict that left deep-seated scars.  Women were major victims due to their heightened vulnerabilities, he said, emphasizing that as Sri Lanka works to rebuild society and heal communities through reconciliation and justice mechanisms, it is committed to addressing the immediate concerns of women and girls.

Iraq’s representative, meanwhile, reported that his country has turned the page on a sombre history since recovering all its territory from the grasp of Da’esh — which carried out atrocious crimes unprecedented in the history of humanity.  Outlining practical measures to return all displaced persons to their homes and provide them with redress for their suffering, he said a draft bill aimed at providing compensation, rehabilitation and reintegration into society for Yazidi survivors was up for debate this month, and a list of persons accused of human trafficking has been submitted to the national prosecutor’s office.

Serbia’s representative outlined national measures aimed at establishing an effective prevention system and punishing perpetrators of sexual violence.  As a signatory party to the Rome Statute, Serbia supports the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of sexual violence during conflict, and cooperated fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, she said.  Expressing support for a victim-centred approach, she nevertheless warned against speculating about numbers of victims or insisting upon a “hierarchy of victims” either by ethnic or religious affiliation or by gender, saying that often leads to politicization.

The Russian Federation’s representative, decrying sexual violence in conflict as an “odious military crime” emphasized that the Special Representative must continue to abide by her mandate, saying the Council’s efforts to end sexual violence depend on overcoming differences and ending politicization of the issue.

Iran’s representative said efforts to eradicate sexual violence in conflict cannot succeed without addressing the phenomenon’s root causes — the occurrence of conflict itself.  “As long as terrorism, violent extremism, foreign occupation and foreign intervention exist, such a solution remains regrettably out of reach,” he said, adding that destructive advocates of hatred, racism, discrimination and unilateralism are currently uniting against multilateral solutions.

Many speakers conveyed their condolences to the Government and people of Sri Lanka following the series of terrorist attacks that claimed more than 300 lives on Easter Sunday, 21 April.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, Equatorial Guinea, United States, China, Belgium, Indonesia, Peru, Côte d’Ivoire, Kuwait, France, South Africa, Poland, Dominican Republic, Hungary, Finland, Republic of Korea, Ghana, Spain, Albania, Romania, Uruguay, Canada, Argentina, Namibia, Italy, Switzerland, Ukraine, Norway (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Fiji, Greece, Portugal, Turkey, Japan, Netherlands, Estonia (also for Latvia and Lithuania), Ireland, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Slovenia, Mexico, Jordan, Djibouti, Australia, Afghanistan, Luxembourg, Malta, Qatar, Viet Nam, Botswana, Brazil, Bangladesh, Kenya, Sudan, Pakistan, Morocco, Georgia, Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Myanmar, India, United Arab Emirates, Libera, Ecuador, Chile and Paraguay, as well as the Permanent Observer of the Holy See.

Delegates representing the European Union, African Union, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also participated delivered statements.

The meeting began at 10:19 a.m. and ended at 8:17 p.m.

Briefings

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that in the decade since the establishment and mandating of the Office of Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, there has been a paradigm shift in the world’s understanding of the crime of sexual violence in conflict, its impact on peace and security, the responses required to prevent and end it, and the range of services that survivors need.  Commending the work of the many actors involved, he said their efforts have resulted in a robust normative framework, with an increasing number of Governments having demonstrated their willingness to pursue justice and provide services for survivors.  “Advocacy groups have demonstrated beyond a doubt that sexual violence is deliberately used as a tactic of war, to terrorize people, dehumanize communities and destabilize societies, so that they struggle to recover for years or even decades,” he noted.

The United Nations system has also stepped up its own efforts to address those crimes, he continued, citing the consistent training now provided to peacekeepers on how to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict.  “Despite all these efforts, the reality on the ground has not changed,” he said.  Sexual violence continues to be a horrific feature of conflicts around the globe, largely impacting women and girls, he affirmed, adding that it is linked to broader issues, including gender inequality and discrimination.  As such, prevention must be based on promoting women’s rights and gender equality in all areas, before, during and after conflict, he emphasized.  Spotlighting the links between those issues and violent extremism and terrorism, he said perpetrators of the latter often build their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls while using sexual violence in ways ranging from forced marriage to virtual enslavement.

“Sexual violence continues to fuel conflict and severely impacts the prospects for lasting peace,” he said, noting that his most recent report on the issue presents recommendations on a comprehensive approach to the issue.  Encouraging the Council to include the prevention of such crimes in all its country-specific resolutions and in the mandates of its peace operations — while including conflict-related sexual violence in the work of its sanctions committees — he said that including women in peacekeeping missions boosts reporting and involving them in peace negotiations increases the likelihood of accountability.  He went on to point out that despite a handful of high-profile convictions, impunity for sexual violence in conflict remains widespread, with many crimes never reported, investigated or prosecuted.  He added that his recommendations therefore include increasing support to national authorities as they reform laws, improve prosecution capabilities and protect survivors.

PRAMILA PATTEN, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said that in the 10 years since she received her mandate, “a crime that has often been called ‘history’s greatest silence’ has seized the consciousness of the international community and global action has escalated in an unprecedented way”.  The Council has played a critical role by recognizing that the use of sexual violence as a tactic of war and terrorism constitutes a fundamental threat to international peace and security and that it requires a focused and strategic security and justice response — as well as comprehensive services for survivors.  While stigma and other social barriers contribute to chronic underreporting of the crime, she said, there is now greater understanding of its many forms, drivers and impacts, and prevention has been incorporated into many peace agreements and ceasefire-verification frameworks around the globe.

However, the reality is that the pace of implementation remains slow and criminal accountability for sexual violence in conflict largely elusive, she continued.  “We have not yet improved the situation on the ground in a sustained, meaningful way,” she emphasized, pointing out:  “Wars are still being fought on and over the bodies of women and girls.”  Sexual violence casts a long shadow over humanity, undermining the prospect of peace and development and often targeting victims on the basis of their actual or perceived ethnic, religious, political or clan affiliation, she noted.  Recalling her visits with victims in South Sudan — where sexual violence has been perpetrated against girls as young as four years of age — and with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, she said that in Libya, too, the world has seen new or existing vulnerabilities develop in the course of migration, giving rise to rape and trafficking as well as sexual exploitation and abuse.  “Imagine a desperation so raw that parents would marry their daughter off to one stranger to spare her rape by many.”

Describing her visits to Iraq, she said that she met with Yazidi, Christian and other women abducted by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh).  Calling attention to the plight of children born as a result of sexual-violence crimes, she said their marginalization and lack of legal status in many places represents a global peace and security concern.  It is essential that the victims of sexual violence by such terrorist groups as Boko Haram, Da’esh or Al-Shabaab are able to return to their homes in dignity and that they are provided with services, rather than allowing them to be treated as affiliates or intelligence assets, she stressed.  Indeed, terrorist groups use sexual slavery and forced marriage as part of a system of punishments and rewards by which they consolidate power and build a world cast in their own image and beliefs, she added.

Calling for tailor-made responses to the unique circumstances of each situation, she said there is also urgent need to ensure comprehensive health services — including sexual and reproductive health — for survivors.  “Yet, if we are ever to prevent these crimes from occurring in the first place, we must confront the unacceptable reality that it is still largely ‘cost-free’ to rape a woman, a child or a man in armed conflicts around the world,” she noted.  Emphasizing the need to convert a centuries-old culture of impunity into one of accountability, she also underlined the importance of prioritizing deterrence, prevention and justice.  It is vital to ensure compliance with international law and to exert pressure on all warring parties, she said, also calling for an approach that places survivors at the centre and supports their efforts to rebuild their lives.  Underlining the Secretary-General’s recommendation that Member States consider creating a survivor’s fund, she said the draft resolution tabled by Germany would represent significant steps forward in that regard.

DENIS MUKWEGE, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, recalled his last appearance in the chamber more than 10 years ago, when a diplomat asked him why the Council was addressing this subject.  He noted that the adoption of resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008) established the link between sexual violence and international peace and security, and recognized sexual violence as a war crime, a crime against humanity and a constituent act of the crime of genocide.  Today, no political or military official can continue to overlook the fact that the use of rape and sexual violence as a tool of terror is a violation of international law, he emphasized, expressing support for all initiatives seeking to draw a red line against such barbaric acts.  He pressed the United Nations and Governments to adopt sanctions against perpetrators of sexual violence in armed conflict, and to involve civil society fully in both early-warning and rapid-response mechanisms, and in collecting data on such crimes.

Noting that his Panzi Foundation has developed a holistic care model involving medical, psychological, socioeconomic and legal assistance, he said care for victims must be considered a human right to rehabilitation, in accordance with resolution 2106 (2013).  “Healing is complete only when justice has been served”, he added, welcoming the Secretary-General’s recommendations and Germany’s draft resolution, which focus on recognition of children born of rape, a survivor-centred approach, the imposition of sanctions, ensuring justice and accountability, and providing reparations.  He encouraged all efforts to fight impunity, notably by making use of special tribunals, expressing hope of seeing them used in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He added that he also favours transitional justice in countries seeking to escape dictatorship, stressing that reparations complete the healing process and allow society to recognize the evil committed.

Expressing hope that the international community will establish a global fund to respond to the needs of survivors and bridge gaps in national and international justice, he said that such an entity would also provide support for reparations programmes in countries that either fail to shoulder their responsibilities or require assistance to do so.  He said that, wherever he works around the world, the testimonies of survivors offer living proof of the crimes committed.  “We cannot remain indifferent to their cries,” he said, pointing out that the normative framework for combating sexual violence has only become richer.  “What is the international community — the human community — waiting for?” he demanded, urging the Council to adopt today’s draft resolution and demonstrate both the courage and political will to bridge the gap between law and practice in efforts to build a world free from sexual violence in conflict.

NADIA MURAD, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, said sexual violence in conflict has become “a dangerous phenomenon that requires action from us all”.  The discussion of such systematic abuse requires discussion of ISIL, which enslaved thousands of Yazidi girls and women before the eyes of the world, she said, noting that genocide against Yazidis continues today.  The social fabric of an entire society has been torn and the hopes of entire generations have been wasted, she said, noting that survivors live in camps lacking basic services.  Yazidi women were captured and sold as slaves, she recalled.  “We have failed to protect women and girls from enslavement,” she said, adding:  “We as people must shoulder the responsibility to rescue those still missing and in captivity since 2014.”  She recalled that she has repeatedly demanded that the international community create a working group for that purpose, but her calls have fallen on deaf ears.  “The result was our collective failure,” she said, pointing out that thousands of survivors remain in camps, enduring deplorable conditions.

She went on to point out that, whereas Yazidi girls and women broke the barrier of silence, stigma and fear by telling their stories to the world in hopes of seeing justice, not a single person has been tried for sexual enslavement crimes.  More than 350,000 of them — 80 per cent of Iraq’s Yazidi population — are still displaced in camps.  “We come to the UN, we deliver statements, but no practical steps are taken,” she said, underlining, among other things, the need of the displaced to return to their homes.  “We need serious steps on the ground, not just slogans.”  She said that she had hoped the stories of victims would help to bring ISIL/Da’esh to justice, yet thousands of its members are still free.  The perpetrators of genocide must be brought to justice, she added, stressing that by doing so, an international tribunal would send a message to others and prevent such crimes.  She went on to note that although the creation of the United Nations Investigative Team to promote accountability for crimes committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD) came too late, the Council should nonetheless support the mechanism’ continuing efforts to collect evidence and pass a resolution guaranteeing full support for victims.

AMAL CLOONEY, Barrister, recalled an early conversation in which Ms. Murad recounted her suffering at the hands of 12 ISIL men, as well as the murder of her mother and brothers and the threatening messages on her phone.  Emphasizing that Ms. Murad never expressed fear for her life, since that day, however, she has spoken of only one fear: that ISIL men will shave their beards and return to their normal lives; “that there will be no justice”.  Noting that she provides legal counsel to women kidnapped, bought, sold, enslaved and raped by ISIL, she said it was clear from the start that the task would be a challenge given that world Powers were focused on a military solution and the fact that no one was speaking about justice.  “We could not allow the evidence to disappear,” she said, explaining that she and Ms. Murad came to request that the Council send investigators to Iraq to gather evidence of ISIL’s crimes so that one day, trials would be possible and justice within reach.  After months of advocacy, the Council adopted resolution 2379 (2017), and just four weeks ago, she recalled, investigators began to exhume mass graves and identify the remains of victims.  “This first step was a cathartic moment,” she said.

She went on to describe a case in which she represents a Yazidi victim in Germany, saying the Supreme Court confirmed that charges against an ISIL commander responsible for sexual slavery amount to genocide — the first judicial recognition of this fact anywhere in the world.  While important, “this does not come close to the level of justice that the survivors wish for, or the scale of the international response that they deserve”, she stressed.  ISIL’s crimes against women and girls are unlike anything witnessed in modern times.  Pointing out that the group once controlled territory the size of the United Kingdom and ruled over 8 million people, she said more than 40,000 foreign fighters from 110 countries are estimated to have joined ISIL’s ranks in Iraq and Syria alone, yet, the question of bringing them to justice has barely raised a whisper.  Thousands of perpetrators are held by the coalition-backed Syrian Democratic Force in Syria, with thousands more detained in Iraq, she noted.  However, trials lack due process, according to the United Nations, and proceed on a single terrorism charge — without witnesses.

None of those trials stands as a measure of justice for Yazidis nor provides victims with the chance to recount what ISIL did, she continued, pointing out that the charges do not include sexual violence, while stressing that this must change.  Laying out four options for the Council, she said it can refer the situation to the International Criminal Court, as many Yazidi survivors have urged — unlikely since the United States considers the Court “dead to us” and those supporting its investigations can be denied entry into the country.  The Russian Federation delivered a similarly devastating blow, she noted, recalling that a senior official of that country told the Council last month that it will never refer another situation to the Court.  Survivors can only hope the Council will find a way through this impasse, she said.  A second option is for like-minded States to establish a court by treaty, which could be done by members of the global coalition, she said.  “If 79 States can gather to fight ISIL on the battlefield, why can they not establish a court”, either in The Hague or in another region?

She went on to state that if the Council does not act, a third option is for the European Union to do so, recalling the bloc’s recent help in establishing a court in The Hague to deal with crimes committed in Kosovo.  With Iraq’s support, the European Union and like-minded States can do the same for ISIL crimes, or the bloc could expand the mandate of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to cover international crimes, she said.  A fourth option is that Iraq could enter into a treaty with the United Nations to establish a hybrid court, as was done for Sierra Leone and Cambodia, she continued.  In the resolution under consideration today, States express deep concern over the slow progress in eliminating sexual violence, she noted, agreeing that the world is facing an epidemic of sexual violence and that justice is the antidote.  She pressed the Council to go further than adopting a resolution, emphasizing that “if this august body cannot prevent sexual violence in war, then it must at least punish it”.  She went on to recall that after the Second World War, the victorious nations asked the same questions about the Nazis that are being asked today as to whether to care about justice.  “This is your Nuremburg moment” to stand on the right side of history, she declared, stressing Ms. Murad’s readiness to trade her Nobel Peace Prize for the chance to face those who murdered her family and repeatedly raped her in a court of law.

INAS MILOUD, Chairperson, Tamazight Women’s Movement, said that her Amazigh, or Berber, people are the indigenous inhabitants of Libya, adding that since the 2011 revolution, she has been working with indigenous women and girls affected by sexual and gender-based violence, as well as displaced and migrant communities in that country.  Last week, the United Nations-supported National Peace Conference — intended to put Libya on the road to democracy — had to be postponed, she recalled, noting that the country remains embroiled in crisis years after the United Nations brokered the Libyan Political Agreement.

She went on to recall that in 2018, hundreds of stories were collected from Libyans relating experiences of sexual and gender-based violence, which primarily affects women and girls, she continued.  Their testimonies outline a common pattern of physical violence, rape, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, abduction and domestic violence, she emphasized, noting that patriarchal norms, amplified by the presence of armed groups and the widespread availability of weapons, are the central cause of gender-based violence and the lack of security for women.  Despite the United Nations arms embargo, weapons continue to flow into the country unchecked, she said, pointing out that violence often escalates due to their widespread availability.

Patriarchal notions of family honour, coupled with fear of retaliation, ensure that domestic violence as well as sexual and gender-based violence are rarely reported, she continued, underlining that indigenous women are even further marginalized due to entrenched decades-old discrimination against minority communities.  Critically, the peace process led by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) largely excludes Libyan women and indigenous groups, she pointed out.  As a result, the Libyan Political Agreement does not reflect many crucial issues, such as gender equality, sexual and gender-based violence and fear of reprisals for activism on women’s rights.

She went on to recount that her cousin’s entire family was killed last week, when their house was destroyed during the shelling of Tripoli.  As bombs rain down on the capital and clashes continue in Azizia and Zuwaya, ordinary Libyans look to the Security Council for swift action to resolve the current crisis.  She called upon the Council to demand a ceasefire; stop the sale of weapons; investigate all allegations of sexual violence; and ensure that peace agreements are gender-sensitive and meaningfully include women, indigenous peoples and youth, and that they are able to influence all phases of the National Conference and elections.

Statements

HEIKO MAAS, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany and Council President for April, spoke in his national capacity, noting that Nadia Murad’s story reflects not only her own experience but also those of countless others — most never told — that are hauntingly similar, from Syria to Myanmar.  Pointing out that implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000) is lagging behind two decades after its adoption, he stressed the need to strengthen accountability and to improve the channels through which information on non-compliance reaches the Council.  Emphasizing the need for targeted sanctions and criminal prosecution at the national level, he pointed out that a deadly culture of impunity already exists in many places around the world.  In response, Germany supports United Nations efforts to hold ISIL/Da’esh accountable for its crimes, he said, stressing the importance of placing victims at the centre of all efforts.  The text proposed by Germany calls for enhanced access to justice, medical and psychological services, he said, adding that it also calls for support for the reintegration of victims.  He emphasized the need to focus on the needs of victims who often do not receive enough attention — including boys and men — noting that “those who suffer sexual violence often remain victims long after the crimes are committed”.  In that regard, he stressed the importance of addressing the persistent stigma suffered by survivors.

TARIQ AHMAD, Minister for State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations of the United Kingdom, expressed regret today’s draft resolution does not include proposed language on providing victims with health services — including sexual and reproductive health care and the safe termination of pregnancy — emphasizing that progress made in that area must be preserved.  He said the United Kingdom has spent more than 46 million pounds since 2012 in responding to conflict-related sexual violence around the world.  It is also helping to develop a new ethical code of conduct — named for Nadia Murad and aimed at supporting the voices of victims and witnesses — which it intends to launch in November, he added.

PEDRO NGUEMA NDONG, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Equatorial Guinea, associated himself with the African Union, saying his delegation energetically condemns the use of sexual violence as a war tactic.  He urged support for State strategies against such abuse, pressing the international community to work with Governments on approaches that support women, displaced persons and those seeking refuge beyond the outbreak of conflict.  Security and justice institutions must be receptive and the cooperation between the Council and the African Union enhanced, he said.  Stressing the need to end impunity and to make sexual violence a criterion for sanctions designation, he urged support for countries seeking help to bolster their legal institutions and social protections.  He went on to point out that Africa is where most cases of rape are committed during conflict, emphasizing that implementation of resolution 2457 (2019) will foster an end to such violence on the continent.  “What is necessary is international cooperation,” he added.

JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States) said it is for survivors that his country invests in early-warning efforts and has committed to justice and accountability.  The United States supports accountability for ISIL/Da’esh and is working with Iraq to ensure it, providing $2 million for UNITAD.  It is also for survivors that the United States disburses rapid-response funds, notably the “Voices against Violence” fund for Yazidi women and girls, he said.  The best protection against sexual violence results from building societies in which women and girls are valued and respected, notably through access to education and opportunity, and by addressing such root causes as gender discrimination.  He urged the United Nations to update its early-warning indicators, as well as its monitoring of sexual violence.

MA ZHAOXU (China) urged the Council to support the settlement of disputes through political dialogue and engagement and play a greater role in preventing conflict and combating terrorism.  He also encouraged respect for national sovereignty, emphasizing that Governments bear primary responsibility for preventing sexual and gender-based violence.  The international community should support the building of security and social governance capacity with a view to safeguarding women’s rights, he said, advocating the scaling up of women’s rights in post-conflict reconstruction by providing development assistance and technical support for their empowerment.  In addition, synergies should be created among relevant United Nations entities, he said, urging the Security Council to strengthen its cooperation with the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, while carrying out such collaboration in a manner consistent with its expertise.

AXEL KEHES (Belgium) recalled that the Council first recognized that the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war is a threat to international peace and security 10 years ago.  Today, the collective responsibility to protect civilians from that threat remains unchanged, he said, emphasizing that the bodies of women, men and children continue to serve as a battleground.  Hailing efforts to place victims at the centre of today’s draft resolution, he welcomed its inclusion, for the first time, of language promoting the rights of children born of rape.  Restoring the sexual health of victims is crucial, he stressed, adding that fighting impunity and preventing the recurrence of crimes is also essential.  When States are not capable of holding perpetrators accountable, Belgium supports the creation of international mechanisms for that purpose, such as the fact-finding mission created in Myanmar, UNITAD in Iraq or the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism in Syria, he said.  Belgium also supports the inclusion of separate sanctions-listing criteria for sexual violence crimes, he added, expressing regret that no consensus could be reached on several other critical elements of the draft.

MUHSIN SYIHAB (Indonesia), noting that his country hosted a regional training on women, peace and security on 8 and 9 April, emphasized that national authorities bear primary responsibility to eliminate conflict-related sexual violence and to prioritize the needs of survivors without discrimination.  “Treating them as survivors, not simply victim-blaming, will help national authorities to develop long-term and practical policies”, taking sociocultural aspects into account, he said.  There is no one-size-fits-all approach, he added, stressing that accountability must be viewed on a case-by-case basis, with a tailor-made approach to each conflict.  To address the causes of conflict, efforts should aim to bolster law enforcement capacity, strengthen national legislation and ensure its implementation, he said, underlining the ultimate need to focus on strengthening national ownership, leadership and capacity to combat abuse.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said his delegation co-chairs the Informal Group of Experts on Women, Peace and Security alongside Germany.  “Today, we find ourselves confronted with new modalities of sexual violence in conflict,” he said, deploring the magnitude and gravity of the situation.  Action to combat such heinous crimes must include efforts to bring perpetrators to justice — an area in which the Council has an important role to play, he said, stressing that amnesty must never be extended to the perpetrators.  Echoing calls for policies to reduce broader gender inequality and discrimination, he expressed support for the development of national commitments and plans relating to the prevention of sexual violence in conflict as a regular part of the Council’s agenda.

GBOLIÉ DÉSIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire), associating himself with the African Union, echoed expressions of concern over the growing and evolving threat posed by rape, forced prostitution and other forms of sexual violence, saying they often fuel terrorism and conflict.  It is crucial to strengthen national institutional capacity as well as international efforts to hold perpetrators accountable, he emphasized.  Moreover, measures providing psychosocial, medical and legal support — including for children born of sexual violence — are also critical.  Recalling that his country remains the only one ever to be withdrawn from the Secretary-General’s annex on sexual violence in conflict, he described various national efforts that have reduced the number of reported cases from 478 in 2012 to zero in 2017.  Stressing the correlation between peace and the empowerment of women, he also outlined policies intended to extend microcredit to women and to establish a minimum parliamentary quota of 30 per cent for women candidates.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), citing the displacement of the Rohingya from Myanmar, said that such conditions make women and girls more vulnerable to sexual violence in conflict.  Emphasizing the importance of holding perpetrators to account and ending impunity, he said the normative framework considers the use of sexual violence as amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The Council can integrate accountability criteria or other measures into peacekeeping mandates, or it can strengthen the mandates of special political missions to include women’s empowerment and accountability for sexual violence crimes, he said.  Since ensuring justice for victims is a prerequisite for lasting peace, there are multiple ways to address sexual violence, notably by adopting a victim-focused approach that considers cultural and social specificities, he said.  Governments must also allow survivors to receive compensation and access justice in a manner that respects their culture, he added.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) decried sexual violence in conflict, declaring: “This is an odious military crime.”  Ending all forms of violence against civilians would only be possible through the resolution of conflicts through peaceful means and the eradication of root causes.  Emphasizing that the Special Representative must continue to abide by her mandate, he urged her to maintain her focus on armed conflicts in which sexual violence has occurred on a wide scale.  Stressing that he cannot understate the importance of a comprehensive approach to Council mandates and combating attempts to broaden its interpretation of sexual violence during conflict, he said it is also important to delineate sexual violence as a war crime — and as a crime, more broadly.  The Council’s efforts to end sexual violence in conflict depends on overcoming differences and ending politicization of the issue, he emphasized.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) called for greater efforts to end the practice of equating rape with adultery.  To combat impunity, international justice — including the International Criminal Court, as well as national, regional and mixed courts — must be able to prosecute perpetrators, he said, emphasizing that it is inconceivable that no perpetrator of sexual violence associated with ISIL or Boko Haram has been convicted.  Stressing that full light must be shed on the situations in Myanmar’s Kachin and Shan states, he said investigative mechanisms must allow the immediate collection of evidence to ensure justice is done.  Expressing concern that some Council members objected to the draft resolution’s affirmation of the need for access to sexual and reproductive health for survivors, he stressed that victims must have access.  “This is an essential point,” he said.  The Council must sanction those responsible for sexual violence in conflict, he said, welcoming the explicit sanctions-listing criteria added for that purpose.  Peacekeeping operations should have the means to protect women in conflict, notably through the deployment of gender advisers, he said.  Noting that France partners with civil society organizations in Yemen, Cameroon, Lebanon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said only a holistic approach can foster implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.

MXOLISI NKOSI, Deputy Director-General for Global Governance and Continental Agenda of South Africa, stressing that sexual violence is often inflicted to achieve psychological, military and political objectives, said it is also used to displace and terrorize communities in areas rich in natural resources.  Many women and girls live through the prolonged trauma of raising children born of rape, he said, pointing out that access to sexual and reproductive health services is an important component not only of the right to health, but also of women’s empowerment.  Expressing concern that the resolution cannot sustain the consensus reached over the years on ensuring access to health services to survivors of sexual violence, he called upon the Council to strengthen accountability for perpetrators.

PAWEŁ RADOMSKI (Poland), commending the resolution adopted today, acknowledged the challenge of securing accountability for conflict-related sexual violence, committed both by non-State and State actors.  Noting the significant progress achieved by the International Criminal Court and the international criminal tribunals, he stressed that the primary responsibility to act resides within the States.  Highlighting the plight of children born of sexual violence, who are often denied nationality, excluded from school, deprived of medical treatment and subjected to physical and psychological violence, he said: “These children are as much victims of sexual violence as their mothers.”

JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic), recalling how the Swedish Nobel Prize Committee had commended Nadia Mourad for refusing to remain silent, stressed the need to ensure that victims participate in post-conflict decision-making processes. Impunity creates a new space for more violence to occur, he noted, adding that survivors and witnesses must be protected in order to create conditions in which victims would be heard without being stigmatized.  Gender experts in the Council sanctions committees and the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict must report on a regular basis to those committees, he said, also emphasizing that victims of sexual violence must have access to sexual and reproductive health services, as women and girls in conflict are at greater risk of unwanted pregnancies and contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Action on Draft Resolution

The Council then adopted the draft as resolution 2467 (2019) by a vote of 13 in favour to none against with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation).

The representative of the Russian Federation took the floor a second time, strongly condemning sexual violence in armed conflict while expressing disappointment that the resolution’s coordinators hastened to submit a non-consensual text.  “At the last moment”, he said, there was agreement on eliminating provisions that were absolutely unacceptable, enabling his delegation to abstain.  Recalling that the previous version of the resolution broadened the Special Representative’s functions, he said there is no basis for requesting numerous reports.  He went on to express concern about the desire to increase bureaucratic entities.  “Please do not even try to paint us as opponents of the fight against conflict-related sexual violence,” he said, underlining that the international community cannot afford manipulation of this important issue .  The Council must pass balanced resolutions, he added.

The representative of China also took the floor a second time, emphasizing that the Council should address conflict-related sexual violence in accordance with its mandate.  It should also carry out extensive discussions well in advance before establishing additional mechanisms, he said, also pointing out that the resolution does not fully reflect the importance of national sovereignty.

The representative of France, also taking the floor a second time, spoke in explanation of position, saying that the resolution allows for the strengthening of the Special Representative’s mandate and contains a request that the Secretary-General produce a report on children born out of rape by 2021.  He noted that concessions on the text were made because of pressure by several permanent Council members.  Expressing surprise that States called for withdrawing mention of sexual and reproductive health, despite the fact that it is mentioned in other resolutions, he said several members used the threat of veto to call into question 25 years of advances in this area.  It would be inexplicable to avoid mention of sexual violence in relation to victims of sexual violence, he noted, emphasizing that such an omission is unacceptable in the context of sexual violence in conflict.

The representative of Belgium, also spoke in explanation of position, expressing regret that it is not possible to meet the needs of victims in terms of sexual and reproductive health.  Moreover, the text does not sufficiently reflect the essential role of civil society.  The resolution is an important step, but given the needs of victims, the Council will need to shift to a higher gear in future, he said.

The representative of South Africa, also speaking in explanation of position, said that his delegation’s vote in support of the text is a strong indication of its unwavering commitment to zero tolerance for sexual violence in conflict settings.  However, it is regrettable that the text does not take the gains made over the years into account, he added, noting that current draft has departed from the original objective — providing maximum protection for the victims of sexual violence and ensuring accountability for the perpetrators.  Pointing out that the Council could not uphold its own consensus in previous resolutions relating to sexual and reproductive health, he said it is telling survivors that consensus is more important than their needs.

The representative of the United Kingdom said that while there are many achievements behind this resolution, more steps are necessary to achieve true justice and accountability.  The text does note the disproportionate impact of sexual violence on women and girls, he pointed out, while expressing deep regret regarding its language on services for victims.

Ms. MURAD said that, as a victim herself, the resolution is a step in the right direction.  Calling for practical steps to help make the text a tangible reality, she emphasized that survivors around the world are depending on the Council.

Ms. MILOUD, speaking on behalf of her fellow Libyan women and indigenous people, said that a survivor-centred approach calls for the availability of sexual and reproductive services.  “This is a crucial moment in my country,” she said, underlining that she took a risk in speaking out today and is relying on the Council to stand behind human rights defenders.

The Special Representative, emphasizing her perspective as the mandate holder, said that despite its limitations, the text is operationally oriented.  She highlighted the significant value of new elements in the preambular and operational paragraphs, noting that the text recognizes that women and girls are especially targeted.  It also gives new recognition to the plight of children born of sexual violence and to the importance of treating survivors as victims rather than affiliates of terrorist groups.

Statements

PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Hungary, said that his country is committed to gender equality as well as the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.  Sexual violence against women in conflict is an important issue in Hungary, he said, noting that his grandparents’ generation had experience in this regard during the Second World War.  He underscored that the Council’s resolution is a milestone that sees sexual violence as an obstacle to international peace and security.  He asked the Council to consider the establishment of a solid legal framework to address the issue of sexual violence committed in conflict situations.  The fight against impunity is a common responsibility of Member States and the United Nations, he said, stressing that impunity can serve as an encouragement for further terrible crimes.

TIMO SOINI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, noted that although most victims are women and girls, men and boys are also targeted.  Calling for survivor-centred responses and for building the capacity of national authorities, he highlighted his country’s support for the Justice Rapid Response and for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women).

LEE TAE-HO, Vice Minister for Foreign of Affairs of the Republic of Korea, associating himself with the Group of Friends on Women, Peace and Security and the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, said that responding to conflict-related violence is important.  It is even more important to make efforts to stop it from happening in the first place.  Enhancing women’s roles and leadership across the entire continuum of conflict should be one of the most critical ways to prevent sexual violence.  It is through women’s participation and empowerment that this could be achieved.  Sexual violence should never be a tactic of war.  He underscored that focusing on survivors’ needs and demands is a prerequisite for a more holistic approach to protecting individuals and preventing survivors from being further victimized and stigmatized.

JOVANKA ATANACKOVIĆ (Serbia), citing her country’s national action plan to implement resolution 1325 (2000), said national measures are aimed at establishing an effective prevention system and punishing perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict.  As a party to the Rome Statute, Serbia supports the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of sexual violence in conflict, and fully cooperated with The Hague tribunal in prosecuting such crimes in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.  As stigma and profound psychological impacts are felt long after such crimes are committed, Serbia supports a victim-centred approach to providing comprehensive medical, psychological, legal and socioeconomic assistance.  Encouraging victims to report the crime is a first step towards investigating and punishing those responsible, she said, stressing that speculating about numbers of victims or insisting upon a “hierarchy of victims” by ethnic or religious affiliation, or by gender, often leads to politicization.

MARTHA A.A. POBEE (Ghana), speaking for the Friends of the African Women Leaders Network, said structural gender inequalities and discrimination are at the heart of conflict-related sexual violence and must be given due primacy in both collective and national preventive efforts.  The nexus among sexual violence, human trafficking, terrorism and violent extremism must be understood in order to inform strategies to address the scourge and each conflict’s specific vulnerabilities.  “Victims are not a homogenous group,” she said.  A better appreciation of the scope, patterns and emerging trends in the use of sexual violence as a war tactic will enhance responses.  Stressing the need for international support for a survivor-centred, community-led approach to prevention, she called for engaging religious and traditional leaders within affected communities.  Women’s groups, especially in Africa, have demonstrated real potential to impact these interventions, and with adequate funding and capacity-building, they can provide a reliable vehicle to enhance informal protection and response mechanisms.  Protection, relief and rehabilitation must be complemented by the urgent creation of an enabling environment for women’s leadership in prevention, peace, security and governance processes, she said, stressing the importance of zero tolerance for sexual violence in conflict.

AGUSTÍN SANTOS MARAVER (Spain), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends on Women, Peace and Security, said a lasting solution to a conflict is only possible with the full participation of women.  His country wishes to see reparations for all survivors and the combating of impunity.  He underscored that violence impacts a woman’s access to basic social services and her sexual and reproductive rights.  Accountability should be pursued to ensure effective prevention and a strong, survivor-centred response.  He supported the work of the German presidency of the Council to arrive at a resolution that includes accountability and care in relation to sexual violence, including for men and boys.  However, the resolution does not provide for non-discriminatory access to health-care services, including sexual and reproductive health care.

BESIANA KADARE (Albania), aligning herself with the European Union, said that in addition to sending the message of zero tolerance by adopting today’s resolution, Member States must implement policies that redirect the stigma from victims to perpetrators.  Noting that in September 2018, her Government approved its first national actions plan for implementing Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), she added: “I come from a region that, in the recent past, has witnessed first-hand the devastating legacy of sexual violence used as a tactic of war.”  More than 20,000 survivors of rape in Kosovo remain isolated by stigma and discrimination, she said, expressing regret that the current report of the Secretary-General continues to not mention Kosovo among the post-conflict countries that suffer the consequences of sexual crimes.

GHEORGHE NECULA (Romania), associating himself with the European Union, said the abominable use of sexual violence as a tactic of war takes a toll not only on women and girls but also on entire communities.  Enslavement and trafficking provide a source of financing to terrorist cells, enabling the continuation of those crimes, while the stigmatized and marginalized children born out of war rape become particularly vulnerable to recruitment — thereby locking in a circle of perpetual violence and insecurity.  Spotlighting the need for all States to identify perpetrators and hold them accountable, he said the International Criminal Court plays an important role as a “court of last resort” for that purpose.  Expressing concern about the shrinking space for civil society and its negative impact on the resolution of conflicts, he said intimidation and reprisals against peace activists, humanitarian and relief workers and women human rights defenders are truly worrisome.  Stressing that Romania will focus on support for vulnerable groups and victims as part of its agenda as a candidate for non-permanent Council membership in 2020-2021, he said the country is working toward the adoption of a national plan of action on women, peace and security, including by equipping peacekeeping personnel with gender-related knowledge and skills.

LUIS HOMERO BERMÚDEZ ÁLVAREZ (Uruguay), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security and the Group of Friends on the Responsibility to Protect, said that the briefers today had painted a tragic picture.  Sexual violence continues to reign in conflicts and, in many cases, it is used systematically as a tactic of war and terrorism.  It has not been possible to eradicate this crime, he said, noting that it violates the very principles of human dignity.  The resolution adopted today contains a wide range of provisions that will enable progress in combating sexual violence.  There is fertile ground for sexual violence in areas where discrimination exists.  Uruguay recently adopted laws on trafficking in persons and sexual violence, as well as on support and reparations for victims.  These themes will be included in the country’s national plan of action on women, peace and security, he said.

RICHARD ARBEITER (Canada), speaking on behalf of 55 Member States, representing all five regional groups of the Organization, expressed concern that despite the systematic use of sexual violence by groups such as ISIL/Da'esh and Boko Haram, no individuals from these groups have been convicted for sexual violence crimes.  The United Nations must ensure that robust legal and institutional arrangements are in place to address this crime, he stressed, expressing support for survivor-centred efforts to systematically document and report sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict situations.  The Council must incorporate and apply sexual violence as a designation criterion in the United Nations sanctions regimes, he said, also calling on Member States to work to listen to the diverse voices of survivors as well as collaborate with civil society organizations.

Speaking in his national capacity, he added that his country’s feminist foreign policy places gender considerations at the core of its global engagement. The evidence is conclusive: supporting gender equality is the best way to build a more peaceful and prosperous world.  Canada is not immune from this menace, he pointed out, noting that intersecting forms of discrimination have resulted in elevated levels of violence against indigenous women and girls.  “Just as we seek to prevent sexual and gender-based violence at home, we support efforts around the world,” he said, highlighting efforts in Myanmar where Canada is working with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to address systematic barriers to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

ALEJANDRO GUILLERMO VERDIER (Argentina), welcoming recent positive efforts in fighting sexual violence, regretted that some important concepts are not reflected in the text of the just adopted resolution 2467 (2019).  Echoing the Secretary-General’s call to all State and non-State parties to enter into specific agreements to prevent sexual violence in armed conflict, he added that sexual violence must be included as a specific criterion for imposing sanctions.  It is also vital to tackle the root causes that put women and specific groups in vulnerable positions, he said, adding that the partnership with UN-Women guarantees the participation of gender specialists in the investigation of sexual violence crimes.  He also highlighted the Safe Schools Declaration, an initiative headed by Norway and Argentina, a non-binding instrument that recognizes obstacles to education during armed conflict.

NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the African Union, and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, stressed that accountability for such crimes must be guaranteed.  A survivor-centred approach should be at the heart of all programmes, interventions and investments.  He outlined various initiatives undertaken by the African Union as well as the region, noting also that his own country has strengthened its laws on gender-based violence.  A new handbook on survivors of domestic and sexual violence was recently approved by the  Ministry of Health and will be issued for distribution shortly.  Survivors of conflict-related sexual violence are men as well as women.  “They represent the future of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Mali and many other countries,” he said.  They must be protected from such violence so that they can successfully contribute to rebuilding their respective countries.

STEFANO STEFANILE (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, said that the picture emerging from the Secretary-General’s 2019 report is still gloomy.  Much needs to be done to ensure accountability as well as compliance with Security Council resolutions on a wider scale.  His country supports the inclusion of sexual violence as an automatic and independent designation criterion in all relevant sanctions’ regimes.  He also underscored that the work of the Council would benefit from a more systematic involvement of the International Criminal Court, with the Office of the Court’s Prosecutor receiving the necessary resources to conduct swift investigations.  When national or international courts are unable to act, the Council should create international fact-finding mechanisms in order to conduct gender-sensitive investigations and ensure the collection and preservation of evidence.

MATTEO FACHINOTTI (Switzerland) underscored the primary responsibility of Member States to protect men, women and children against acts of violence and rape.  Any response must focus on addressing the needs and rights of survivors, preventing further violations and abuses and holding perpetrators accountable.  It is important to acknowledge that while women and girls are the main targets of sexual violence in conflict, men and boys are equally victims of such horrific acts.  And yet this topic remains a taboo.  Cases of violence against men and boys remain underreported because of fear of stigmatization and exclusion.  He called for a holistic approach to treating survivors of sexual violence, including those born of rape.  He further expressed concern about the climate of impunity which surrounds sexual violence in conflict at the national and international levels and underscored the important role of the International Criminal Court.

VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said that with the tragic reality of sexual violence continuing around the world, the Council must continue to look for solutions.  Greater engagement of women at all levels of decision-making is crucial, he said, adding that survivors of sexual violence must be empowered to lead lives free of stigma and discrimination.  Highlighting his country’s efforts to prevent this crime, he noted the active integration of gender equality into the armed forces of Ukraine.  Regretting the omission of any reference to the Ukraine-Russian Federation armed conflict and its victims in the latest report of the Secretary-General, he called for a special mission to investigate crimes in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

MONA JUUL (Norway), also speaking on behalf of Denmark, Iceland and Sweden, said that sexual violence destroys lives, tears apart the social fabric of communities and creates rifts between neighbours.  “Those who are targeted are often discriminated against due to their religious, ethnic, sexual, political and other minority status,” she said.  Stressing the need to monitor and document violations of international law, she called for the systematic use of gender expertise in United Nations operations.  “We rely on survivors and witnesses, civil society and human rights defenders as we strive to build a relevant and effective response without causing survivors further pain,” she said.  Reparation and justice go hand-in-hand.  The Nordic countries will do their part, through their embassies, multilateral efforts and many partnerships.  Meanwhile, the Nordic Network of Women Mediators calls for more a gender-transformative peace and reconciliation process.  The Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations equips peacekeepers, she noted, also adding: “We deploy many women and men who champion this issue.”

SATYENDRA PRASAD (Fiji), noting that despite a robust normative framework there has been an epidemic of targeted sexual violence in conflicts, said that the large number of victims “remind us how far we need to travel”.  Drawing on his country’s experience as a troop contributor to United Nations peacekeeping, he stressed that women peacekeepers bring empathy with them and are better at identifying signs of sexual violence early.  During conflict, law and order is the first to suffer, he said, preventing women from getting recourse from their governance institutions.  Peacekeeping missions must be able to record and document sexual violence, he said, adding that the Council needs to add systematic sexual violence as a criterion into its sanctions regime.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) said that efforts should focus on engaging men and boys as agents of gender-sensitive, peaceful change.  She underscored the importance of a holistic approach to justice and accountability and a survivor-centred approach to fight against conflict-related sexual violence.  The international community and Member States should encourage voices from civil society and women’s organizations.  A survivor-centred approach should incorporate a robust gender perspective, mainstreamed across the spectrum of activities at national, regional and international levels.  Greece stands ready to cooperate constructively with the United Nations and Member States to fight conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence and work towards the enhancement of substantial gender equality so that “no one is left behind”.

NUNO VAULTIER MATHIAS (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union, commended the adoption of the resolution today, with its survivor-centred approach that helps shift the stigma of sexual violence from the victims to the perpetrators.  The victims of violence, including sexual violence, have the right to protection and reparation, while the perpetrators should be held accountable.  Portugal’s third national action plan for 2019-2022 includes a strategic goal to protect the human rights of women and girls and to punish all forms of violence against them.  Preventing sexual violence in conflict is only possible if all stakeholders are involved in finding durable solutions, he said.

FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said that the Council deserves credit for connecting the concepts of sexual violence and impunity to international peace and security, passing numerous resolutions and addressing the issue in various meetings.  Nevertheless, the Secretary-General’s latest report to the Council reveals the fact that sexual violence continues to be a tactic of war and is widespread, particularly in armed conflicts, including its early stages and aftermath.  The report also confirms the nexus among sexual violence, human trafficking, terrorism and forced displacement.  The Secretary-General rightfully identifies accountability for crimes of conflict-related sexual violence as a key element of his prevention strategy.  Unfortunately, in conflicts, national judicial and security systems are often characterized by incapacity, resulting in impunity, he said.

KORO BESSHO (Japan) stressing the importance of accountability, said that if perpetrators are not prosecuted, or if they still hold power, sexual violence cannot be put to rest, leading to distrust in the Government.  Taking a survivor-centred approach is important, he added, also emphasizing that in order to address the root causes of the problem, it is vital to boost the economic empowerment of women.  The international community must acknowledge women not just as victims of conflict but also as active peacebuilders.  Noting his country’s support for UN-Women’s projects in Kenya, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan, he said that cash-for-work programmes encourage women to be confident, active players in their communities.

LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands), associating herself with the European Union and 55 Member States, said that enhanced accountability would send a strong signal to perpetrators and protect lives in conflict areas.  The primary responsibility for accountability rests with the State.  When States are unwilling or unable to prosecute, the International Criminal Court has a role to play.  In that regard, she called upon States that had not yet done so to become a party to the Rome Statute of the Court.  Sanctions can be a form of prevention, she said.  They can help change a culture of impunity to a culture of deterrence.  The Council should also incorporate sexual violence as a standalone sanction criterion in sanction regimes, she said.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), also speaking on behalf of Latvia and Lithuania, said that despite increased attention by the international community, impunity remains widespread and even common practice.  Sexual violence perpetrated in wartime is among the least reported crimes and survivors of violence are often further punished with rejection and stigma.  For its part, Latvia will start preparing its first national action plan on women, peace and security, which will include domestic policy measures as well as multilateral and bilateral cooperation.  Lithuania is finalizing a second national action plan on the matter for 2020-2024 while Estonia is working on its third plan for the same period.  Estonia also is focused on empowering women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations.  He further stressed the crucial role of civil society, particularly women’s organizations, in fighting sexual and gender-based crimes.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said that just as war is fundamentally about power and the abuse of power, so too is sexual violence.  Welcoming today’s resolution as a step on the road towards ending sexual violence, she expressed regret that the text did not include sexual and reproductive health-care services for victims and survivors.  Gender equality is at the heart of Ireland’s foreign, development and humanitarian policy, she stressed, noting that the country’s determination comes not just from conviction but also from experience.  In Northern Ireland, the decommissioning of weapons, demobilization of paramilitary groups and growing confidence in the police service has reduced the threat of firearms in domestic violence situations.  Ireland’s work to address conflict-related sexual violence seeks to support civil society while also recognizing that female human rights defenders face additional risk, she pointed out.

ROBERT MARDINI, Permanent Observer for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said that in that entity’s work with conflict-affected communities, young women in particular often mention sexual violence as main concern.  The needs of survivors range from medical care to mental health, shelter to economic security and social inclusion, he said, adding that “one concrete task we have is to provide safe and confidential access to health care to prevent further risks to survivors who come forward”.  The inadequate criminalization of sexual violence and the lack of State and local capacity to respond resulted in weak chains of command and poor judicial systems, he said, adding that the ICRC will continue to engage with all parties to armed conflict so as to ensure respect for international humanitarian law.

MARA MARINAKI, Principal Adviser on Gender and on Women, Peace and Security of the European Union, underlined the need to strengthen proper accountability for conflict-related sexual violence, reiterating calls for the Council to systematically and explicitly include and apply sexual violence as a designation criterion in United Nations sanctions regimes, particularly in cases where they overlap with perpetrators listed in the Secretary-General’s report.  Prevention, protection and prosecution should be the driving forces behind all national and international efforts to pursue zero tolerance for sexual violence in conflict, she stressed.  The International Criminal Court and other international tribunals complement the jurisdiction of States, she added.  Expressing concern about the risks and harm faced by mothers and their children born as a result of sexual violence, as well as targeted lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals, she outlined concrete actions taken by the European Union, including the bloc’s monitoring of violence and gender-based crimes, not only as early warning signs of instability and insecurity, but also as structural risk indicators of potential atrocity crimes, as identified in the European Union’s 2018 “Responsibility to Protect — Atrocity Prevention Toolkit”.

CLARE HUTCHINSON Special Representative of the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for Women, Peace and Security, said the alliance endorsed a new policy and action plan, adding that its guiding principles — integration, inclusiveness and integrity — provide the “connective tissue” linking security, stability and protective environments.  “Sexual violence stems from fundamental gender inequalities,” she said, urging the dismantling of all obstacles to women’s participation in peace and security.  Detailing NATO’s efforts to address sexual violence in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq, she said the alliance is developing a new handbook for commanders and operational planners as a reference for critical thinking and decision-making in military crisis situations.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), emphasizing the need to ensure that sexual violence is not used as a war tactic or aggravated by human trafficking, called for well-coordinated, cross-national interventions through a “one UN” approach.  The United Nations Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict requires improved coordination with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) as well as regional and subregional organizations, he said, emphasizing also the need for prevention efforts, sharing information, and providing help and legal support for victims.  Sanctions committees, meanwhile, should use sexual violence as a designated criterion for imposing sanctions.  He went on to stress the importance of greater access to health care, psychosocial support and legal assistance; and cooperation with religious leaders, civil society and local communities in order to change extremist narratives while shifting the stigma of sexual violence to perpetrators.  Kazakhstan also supports greater recruitment of well-qualified women military and police officers, as well as deployment of women’s protection advisers to peacekeeping missions, he said.

CYNTHIA CHIDIAC (Lebanon) said the Council must ensure the rights of all sexual violence survivors, including the right to sexual and reproductive health.  She urged strict respect for international humanitarian law during war as well as implementation of all resolutions relevant to the women, peace and security agenda, stressing that resolution 1325 (2000), in particular, underscores that women are essential partners in the quest for peace and security.  Their involvement in negotiations ensures a path towards sustainable peace, she said, underlining the importance of creating a gender-sensitive inquiry mechanism and introducing legislation to bring perpetrators to justice.  Funds must also be mobilized to strengthen monitoring and investigation of such reprehensible actions, she said, pointing to the role of civil society in such efforts.  She pressed the Council to move from denial to admission; from the silence of humiliation to the courage of truth; from indifference to compassion; and from injustice to redress.

MOHAMED FATHI AHMED EDREES (Egypt) said the issue of sexual violence is connected to the general status of women and girls, as well as patterns of social behaviour.  It is also connected to accountability and the fight against impunity, he added.  Despite the Council’s adoption of several resolutions, sexual violence against women and girls persists, perpetrated notably by non-State groups and terrorist organizations.  “We must change certain social and behavioural patterns,” he said, expressing support for a survivor-centred approach in post-conflict situations, with comprehensive care provided to women.  Women play a vital role in society and more specifically in fighting sexual exploitation and abuse, he said.  “We must enhance this role,” he stressed.

ONDINA BLOKAR DROBIČ (Slovenia) said that sexual violence in contemporary conflicts is not a side effect, but rather a horrifying tactic of war and a means of repression, terror and control.  It is used to humiliate and injure survivors, their families and entire communities, she said, pointing out that entire generations and communities are affected for decades into the future.  The legacy of the conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda and elsewhere are reminders of this, she said, emphasizing the paramount importance of ensuring accountability and ending impunity.

JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMIREZ (Mexico) said that sexual violence takes place in a situation of conflict, it also becomes a war crime and its prosecution becomes a matter of interest for the global community.  Member States must strengthen their national capacities to ensure that they have legal and institutional frameworks able to guarantee accountability for such crimes, he said, underlining the importance of basing those systems on such fundamental rights as equality and non‑discrimination.   Pointing out that a definition of sexual violence was not included in many foundational international agreements, including the General Assembly’s 1974 Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergencies and Armed Conflict, he suggested that further elaboration of the term might be useful.  Among other things, he called on the Council to support the recommendations laid out in the Secretary-General’s report and to include sexual violence as a sanctions criterion, as well as in the mandates of peace operations.

SIMA SAMI I. BAHOUS (Jordan) said the world is experiencing an unprecedented wave of violence, with extremist groups using pretexts to sow further discord.  Sexual violence in conflicts around the globe has led to severe trauma, torn social fabric and threatened international peace and security.  Underlining Jordan’s commitment to end such violence and to support marginalized people — including the massive flows of refugees and migrants spreading around the region — she said the latter have put pressure on host communities and impacted the situation of women and girls.  Jordan has established mechanisms to promote the education, livelihoods, health and eventual safe and dignified return of displaced women and girls.  Its national plans reflect the country’s commitment to human rights and justice, she said, noting that Jordan has been a pioneer in tackling violent extremism and promoting a culture of peace in the region.

MOHAMED SIAD DOUALEH (Djibouti), recalling that the world recently marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, said the prohibition of rape is one of the oldest rules of today’s modern code of war.  Building on that jurisprudence, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was viewed by many as an important advancement in the prosecution of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence.  Despite such progress, those crimes continue to mar conflicts today.  “What is keeping rape in our society is silence,” he emphasized.  The United Nations and its Member States must work to support survivors in reporting their experiences and seek to reduce stigma, he said, proposing the creative use of community radio, theatre programmes, billboards and information provided by religious leaders as possible avenues of action.  Meanwhile, the United Nations should help community-based first responders to better document sexual and gender-based violence and connect providers with adequate training.

GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) said sexual violence, rooted in gender inequality is not an inevitable occurrence in the course of conflict and should never be accepted.  Expressing outrage over the persistent and widespread use of sexual violence in conflict, she said a climate of impunity discouraged reporting, undermines assistance and abets further violations.  Access for survivors to the full range of quality reproductive and sexual health care, services and information is critical for their recovery and the restoration of their dignity and bodily autonomy.  “Sexual and reproductive health and rights are vital human rights,” she emphasized, adding that upholding them can mean the difference between life and death.  Additionally, States must adopt survivor-centred approaches and ensure that military, police and service providers develop positive internal cultures that are gender-sensitive and do not tolerate violence.

ADELA RAZ (Afghanistan), outlining her country’s plan to implement resolution 1325 (2000) and to safeguard women from all types of violence and discrimination, added that its expanded Penal Code of 2018 criminalized all forms of conflict-related sexual violence as war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide.  National measures to prohibit those crimes have had a notable deterrent effect, leading to reduced crimes against women.  Noting that a mechanism for the registration of all alleged and reported crimes has also been established, she said the country has also seen an increased number of female prosecutors and judges.  More women are now able to speak up.  Meanwhile, legal advice, health and psychosocial services are made available in all parts of the country and women’s empowerment is actively pursued through efforts to increase women’s role in civil service, the security sector, elections and national peace efforts, she said.

CHRISTIAN BRAUN (Luxembourg), highlighting his country’s “Stand, Speak, Rise Up” initiative — which focuses on survivors — pointed to the tenth anniversary of the Special Representative’s mandate and affirmed his Government’s continued support for her work.  He advocated for greater accountability for perpetrators, calling financial innovations a powerful ally in striving for equality.  Stressing that challenges on the ground are of a social, security and institutional nature, he called for exploring new opportunities to support survivors.  He also touched on the role of the Rome Statute in combating sexual and gender-based violence, recalling that the International Criminal Court is a jurisdiction of last resort. First and foremost, Governments are charged with such responsibilities.  Noting that Luxemburg is a partner of UN-Women, he said it provides expertise that can be quickly deployed in investigations and to help survivors who deserve justice.

GIOVANNI BATTISTA BUTTIGIEG (Malta) said it is the responsibility of all States to support and help survivors hold perpetrators to account.  It is unacceptable that perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence, belonging to both States and non-State armed groups, should be allowed to continue to live in impunity, he stressed.  The fight against impunity for conflict-related sexual violence and the role of accountability as an effective prevention tool is crucial to the women, peace and security agenda, he said, warning that failure to address sexual violence undermines reconciliation efforts and the transition to more stable, secure and peaceful societies, often leading to long-lasting effects on survivors, their families and their communities.  In this regard, the importance of civil society — including women’s rights groups — in peacebuilding and post-conflict reconciliation efforts at the grass‑roots level cannot be stressed enough, he said.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, emphasized the urgent need for a survivor‑centred approach to supporting the needs of victims of sexual and gender-based violence before, during and after conflict.  Sexual violence in conflict must be addressed with the active and equal participation of women in identifying prevention mechanisms and holistic, rights-based solutions that address their needs, she said.  It is equally important to continue to engage men and community leaders so they can play a positive role in addressing gender stereotypes and mechanisms of societal exclusion.  The Council should make better use of targeted sanctions to prevent and halt sexual violence, she stressed, adding that training on gender issues, preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, and addressing sexual violence in conflict should also be mandatory in national military and police training.

FATIMA KYARI MOHAMMED, Permanent Observer for the African Union to the United Nations, said that structural gender inequalities and discrimination against women, girls and vulnerable communities are among the most profound causes of conflict-related sexual violence.  The African Union has worked with the United Nations to address this scourge, having together led fact-finding solidarity missions to carry out the women, peace and security agenda, she recalled.  Emphasizing that the sexual exploitation faced by women and girls in camps or during migration, and the gang rape and forced nudity suffered by young men and boys during conflict are challenges exacerbated by weak implementation of policies already in place, she reaffirmed the African Union’s zero tolerance for sexual violence in conflict, citing the lack of criminal accountability as one of the most outrageous problems.  In addition to a legal and policy approach to prevention, she said, African States have worked to build a culture of peace, with training centres working to raise awareness against sexual and gender-based violence.  She advocated a survivor-centred, community-led approach to developing and implementing programmes and policies, stressing that gender-sensitive transitional justice must be integral to peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction.

DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam) said there must be no place for stigmatization in any society.  Life-saving services for victims, including medical care, psychological support, and legal aid should be made more available and accessible, in accordance with national law.  The primary role of States should be strengthened and complemented by assistance from relevant United Nations entities, specialized agencies, and peacekeeping missions, he said.  Emphasizing the need to examine the issue of sexual violence from both protection and participation angles, he said Viet Nam champions greater participation by women in developing and advancing a culture of peace because it is women who instil the societal values of harmony, compassion and resilience throughout the generations.

COLLEN VIXEN KELAPILE (Botswana), associating himself with the African Union, said Member States have a responsibility to strengthen the capacity of their national institutions to deter and prevent sexual violence while ensuring accountability.  He stressed that training programmes that raise awareness of gender-based violence and sexual exploitation and abuse among personnel deployed in conflict situations should remain central.  Expressing support for survivor-centred responses, he said victims deserve platforms for healing, rehabilitation, reconciliation and reintegration into society.

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq) said his country has turned the page on a sombre part of history since recovering all its territory from the grasp of Da’esh, which carried out atrocious crimes unprecedented in the history of humanity.  Outlining practical measures to return all displaced persons to their homes and provide them with redress for their suffering, he said a new draft bill for Yazidi survivors — aimed at providing compensation, rehabilitation and reintegration into society — was brought up for debate in the Government this month.  Also noting that a list of persons accused of human trafficking has been submitted to Iraq’s national prosecutor’s office, he said evidence of crimes committed by Da’esh is being collected for proper evaluation and prosecution.  In addition, he also outlined the country’s National Strategy to Combat Violence against Women and its second action plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000).

FREDERICO SALOMÃO DUQUE ESTRADA MEYER (Brazil) said fighting impunity is almost as important as preventing sexual violence.  Investigating, prosecuting and sentencing those who commit such crimes is a powerful deterrent that also helps to empower everyone touched by sexual violence in conflict.  He expressed support for greater participation of experts on conflict-related sexual violence in peacekeeping missions and mediation efforts.  He noted that this year’s United Nations Military Gender Advocate award went to a Brazilian peacekeeper for her work as a gender adviser with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).  That illustrated how women peacekeepers enable local women to discuss issues that affect their own lives.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said the Secretary-General’s report confirmed that sexual violence trends persist as part of a broader strategy of conflict, and that accountability remains elusive, calling his recommendations objective, pragmatic and requiring the Council’s urgent attention.  Noting that most of the 730,000 Rohingyas who fled atrocities in Myanmar’s Rakhine State since August 2017 are women and children, he said those in camps at Cox’s Bazar are victims of horrific sexual abuse by Myanmar forces — a fact confirmed by United Nations agencies.  In 2018 alone, more than 40,000 Rohingya women gave birth, he said, and ensuring recognition, compensation and a better future for them in their country of origin is something the international community must address.

As part of the solution in conflict and post-conflict situations, he called for transforming promises and commitments into practice, enhancing national laws and investigation mechanisms, and providing protection to victims.  In cases where the State is unwilling to ensure accountability and justice for such crimes, the Council cannot avoid its responsibility, he said, calling the case of Rohingya women a glaring case in point.  While appreciating the idea of a survivor-centred approach to addressing victims’ needs, Bangladesh is providing Rohingya women and girls with as much specialized care as possible from its modest resources.  It has mobilized law enforcement personnel.  “One has to understand the realities of managing the largest camps in the world,” he said.  It is hypocritical to condemn rights violations and express horror at new violence while not taking strong measures to ensure the accountability of those responsible for such crimes.

LAZARUS OMBAI AMAYO (Kenya) said creating awareness about sexual violence in conflict must involve all of society.  He stressed the importance of military training and accountability at all levels of engagement, including peacekeeping operations.  Calling rape a violation of basic human rights, he said that men and boys have also been neglected and that the Council’s intervention should be more inclusive.  Mainstreaming gender advisers into peacekeeping operations is welcome, but more can be done.  In 2016, Kenya inaugurated a national action plan to strengthen judicial mechanisms and is developing appropriate policies and legislation.  These actions have ensured a gender-sensitive approach to addressing gender-based violence, he said, noting also that Kenya has partnered with civil society to translate the plan into various local languages.  The plan outlines increased women’s participation at all decision-making levels in all institutions for conflict prevention, management and resolution. 

Kenya also set up a task force on women, peace and security that brings State and non-State actors together in efforts to advance national gender priorities, he said.  Voicing support for the African Union zero-tolerance policy in times of conflict and peace alike, he called for bolstering national criminal jurisdictions and strictly observing international humanitarian law.  States must also create an enabling environment for women and young people to engage in peace and security processes at all levels.

NAWAL AHMED MUKHTAR AHMED (Sudan), associating herself with the African Union, said her country is undergoing historic change in the wake of the “glorious” December revolution, paving the way for a better future.  Such positive developments are taking place as the Council nears the twentieth anniversary of the women, peace and security agenda.  Underscoring the commitment of the transitional military council to cooperating with the international community in ensuring human rights for all, especially women, she said the soon-to-be-formed civilian Government will enhance these rights.  Indeed, the transitional phase will allow for the achievement of peace in Darfur and the end of all forms of sexual violence.  Sudanese women have played a vital role in this movement, having participated in street protests on equal footing and demanding their rights.  They will be able to participate fully in the political sphere — leading Sudan and following in the footsteps of three great Nubian queens. 

In addition to weapons collection campaigns and repatriating and reintegrating displaced peoples, Sudan has also provided land to refugees, she said.  It will continue to protect women by fighting gender inequality, carrying out disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes; ensuring redress for victims; undertaking economic empowerment programmes for women; supporting women’s protection programmes to support survivors of conflict-related sexual violence; and carrying out training for police to improve investigation of sexual violence cases.  It is also working to train doctors and health workers so they can help rape victims.  She expressed hope that the international community and regional and national partners will support these efforts.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said that the fight against impunity for conflict‑related sexual violence must continue, with a greater commitment to hold aggressors to account and without allowing political or geopolitical interests to constrain or compromise efforts.  An enabling environment for more meaningful participation of women must be created so that peace efforts can be given a much better chance to succeed.  While the Council has drawn international attention to such horrific crimes, it also needs to focus on addressing the root causes of conflicts, most notably in regard to the protracted disputes of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as Palestine.  By leaving disputes unaddressed, the Council runs the risk of acting selectively and displaying a blind spot for some of the most vulnerable women who suffer disproportionately from violence perpetrated by foreign occupation.

OMAR KADIRI (Morocco), stressing that indignation was no longer enough, called for additional efforts to punish perpetrators and support survivors in rebuilding their lives.  Drawing links between those efforts and sustainable development, he said women’s participation in public life — including in the elaboration of peace agreements — is also crucial.  Warning against attempts to link religion with sexual violence, he outlined Morocco’s national efforts to combat radicalization, empower women, train preachers and Imams to bolster tolerance, and deploy female peacekeepers.  In addition, his country is involved with the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network and other important regional frameworks.

ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia) described her country’s national action plans for implementing Council resolutions on women, peace and security since 2012.  The most recent plan envisions the inclusion of the needs, priorities and recommendations of women internally displaced and conflict-affected women, as well as women’s increased participation in the Geneva International Discussions and the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms.  She described a project to empower conflict-affected women, noting that, in 2018, 17 women in Zugdidi Municipality were given the opportunity to enhance their skills for launching their own business.  Georgia’s gender equality strategy seeks to counter gender violence, among other things.  Further, the defence ministry’s Gender Equality Monitoring Team coordinates gender mainstreaming.  Despite Government efforts to promote the full inclusion of conflict-affected women in the peace process, the Russian Federation’s ongoing occupation of Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions hinders peace and imposes severe conditions on women living in Georgia’s occupied regions.  International engagement and monitoring of the situation is thus paramount for ensuring gender equality and preventing sexual violence against women.

CHRISTIAN GUILLERMET-FERNANDEZ (Costa Rica) emphasized that sexual violence is unacceptable at any time or anywhere.  Structural gaps require attention and protection measures should be expanded to cover the most vulnerable groups, including religious and ethnic minorities, rural women and LGBTI individuals, as well as boys and men.  Highlighting sexual violence resulting from displacement as another troubling phenomenon, he described sexual violence in conflict as a war crime, stressing that amnesty cannot be extended to perpetrators.  The imposition of sanctions must be consistent, he said, urging the relevant sanctions committees to deploy expert investigators as part of their work.  Meanwhile, sanctions should also extend to any party providing funds or other support to groups proven to have committed crimes of sexual violence in conflict, he said.  More women should be included in national police forces as well as in international peacekeeping and political missions, he added, expressing regret that the resolution adopted today excludes any mention of access to sexual and reproductive health for victims, which are crucial for recovery.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) noted the widespread atrocities committed against women and girls from Syria to Myanmar.  “We need to ensure timely, quality, safe, confidential and survivor-centred assistance and support for all survivors, including humanitarian assistance, psychosocial and medical services, and their access to justice and reparations,” he added.  A sustainable strategy against sexual violence must address gender inequality as its root cause, he said, adding that it further calls for ensuring the full, effective and meaningful participation of women in political, economic and social life, as well as their access to justice and security institutions.  Liechtenstein is committed to the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery, he said, noting that a national initiative aims to provide recommendations for the global financial sector to address such crimes more effectively.

TAYE ATSKESELASSIE AMDE (Ethiopia) said the stigmatization, shame and social isolation faced by victims of sexual violence must be addressed in the context of fighting impunity.  He welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendation of engaging religious and traditional leaders to help mitigate the suffering of survivors.  Partnership between the United Nations and the African Union is imperative, not only in the fight against sexual exploitation and violence in conflict situations, but also in supporting the women, peace and security agenda in Africa.

SOVANN KE (Cambodia) pointed out that poverty, discrimination, lack of education, social exclusion and inequality perpetuate the sexual violence cycle.  The international community must come together to address these issues.  Women are the bedrock of global socioeconomic development, and a timely implementation of the 2030 Agenda can provide long-lasting protection for women and girls during conflict and in times of peace.  Highlighting his/her country’s efforts in addressing human security threats, s/he said that Cambodian peacekeepers do their utmost to safeguard local populations from sexual violence and abuse.

SAMSON SUNDAY ITEGBOJE (Nigeria) condemned in the strongest terms violence against women and girls, notably by Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region and in his country’s north-east.  The issue of sex slaves must be equally condemned.  Through resolution 1325 (2000), the Council gave impetus to involving women in the peace and security agenda, laying down the foundation for subsequent resolutions.  The African Union has also been a useful platform to advance that agenda, emphasizing the engagement of women and youth in the continent’s development.  Those priorities are reflected in the African Union Agenda 2063.  There are also numerous African Union and subregional instruments to advance the agenda, he said, citing the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) action plan for implementing resolution 1325 (2000).  Nigeria’s action plan to implement resolution 1325 (2000) reflects its commitment to ensuring the security of women and girls during armed conflict and enhancing their participation in conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts.  Nigeria is also cooperating with other countries in a joint task force to defeat Boko Haram and has taken steps to meet the humanitarian needs of displaced persons as well as to ensure conditions enabling their safe and dignified voluntary return.

VALENTINE RUGWABIZA (Rwanda) noted that it has been 25 years since the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda where rape was widely used.  In 1998, at the trial of Jean‑Paul Akayesu, who was mayor of a district during the Genocide, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda ruled for the first time that rape had been used as a means of perpetrating violence aimed at exterminating a targeted group and therefore constituted an act of genocide.  Stressing the importance of fighting impunity to address sexual violence in conflict, she emphasized that national judicial institutions and legal instruments must be robust enough to prevent sexual violence.  The Security Council should consider expanding sanction designation criteria for individuals perpetrating sexual violence.  Investment in survivor-centred approaches is vital.  “Bodies of women, girls and children from targeted groups have become the new battlefields where wars are fought with the intention of destroying the social fabric of targeted communities,” she said.

SONALI SAMARASINGHE (Sri Lanka) said her country has emerged from a 30-year conflict that left deep-seated scars.  Women were major victims, she added, noting that heightened vulnerabilities render females far more susceptible to violence, especially during conflict.  As Sri Lanka engages in rebuilding society and healing communities through reconciliation and justice mechanisms, it is committed to addressing the immediate concerns of women and girls, empowering them, providing them with a safe space in which to speak out and making them equal participants in all areas of peacebuilding and peacekeeping, she said.  The Government has also approved recommendations from the Prime Minister on preventing sexual and gender-based violence, she added, noting that they include proposals on formulating and enforcing laws to combat violence against women and girls, as well as the introduction of social protection measures.

HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar) said the lack of peace leads to sexual violence.  Thus, the Government is exerting utmost efforts towards the cessation of conflict and building national reconciliation.  Myanmar signed a joint communique with the Special Representative in December 2018 to prevent and address conflict-related sexual abuse.  In February 2019, it facilitated her visit to the country and in March formed a ministerial level national committee on prevention and response to conflict-related sexual violence, whose first meeting was subsequently held.  The national work plan will be drafted with technical assistance from the United Nations.  Noting that a new law outlines the need to protect women from domestic abuse, marital rape and sexual violence among other abuse, he said the Independent Commission of Enquiry was established to investigate all alleged violations following ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) terrorist attacks in August 2017 in northern Rakhine.  It is carrying out its mandate with independence, impartiality and objectivity and will soon visit Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh to meet with alleged victims of sexual abuse, he said, underscoring Myanmar’s ability to address accountability on sexual violence, and stressing that action will be taken where there is enough evidence.  In addressing conflict-related sexual violence, the international community should be guided by the universally accepted norms of impartiality, non-selectivity and non-politicization, he said, stressing that exerting unfair pressure on a country — based solely on unrealistic rights standards, without regard for the conditions of the country concerned — will be met with total rejection from the people of that country.

KHODADAD SEIFI PARGOU (Iran) said that preventing the inhumane and brutal crime of sexual violence during conflict requires collective efforts, but they cannot be succeed without addressing the root causes — the very occurrence of conflict.  “As long as terrorism, violent extremism, foreign occupation and foreign intervention exist, such a solution remains regrettably out of reach,” he said.  Warning that destructive advocates of hatred, racism, discrimination and unilateralism are uniting against the proponents of win-win multilateral solutions, he said politicians who put their own illusionary geopolitical interests before the lives of innocent women and girls are shaping the current landscape.  He demanded that they shift their disastrous foreign policies, cease the manufacturing of conflicts and stop shedding crocodile tears for women and children who fell victim to the conflicts they themselves created.

PAULOMI TRIPATHI (India) said that a robust framework for accountability must seek to include all actors, irrespective of their affiliations and motivations.  While sexual violence as a tactic of war has become pervasive, restricting that concept to one of “instrumentality” runs the risk of rendering invisible other victims of atrocities — including boys and men or those violated by civilians or humanitarian actors with other motivations.  A fragmented conceptualization of sexual violence in conflict often leads to a decoupling of the issue from its sociocultural, economic and political contexts.  Interventions based on limited considerations attempt to treat the symptoms rather than the underlying ailment.  The United Nations should prioritize support to Governments in adopting stronger national legal, administrative and justice frameworks to protect the rights of victims, prosecute perpetrators and address the long-term impacts on individuals, families and communities, she said.

LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) noted that not a single member of Da’esh has been held accountable for the sexual‑violence crimes it committed, nor has anyone been punished for sexual violence directed at Myanmar’s Rohingya community where women and girls were gang raped in their homes before fleeing that country.  The United Arab Emirates is working with UN-Women to launch a military and peacekeeping training programme for Arab women at its women’s military academy.  That programme aims to build the capacity of women in the region and will strengthen the pipeline of women for deployment to peacekeeping operations in the future.  To ensure the meaningful participation of women in peace processes — which requires an enabling environment that allows survivors to tell their stories — she called for a survivor-centred approach to be adopted by all States.

MAXWELL SAAH KEMAYAH (Liberia) said the Government is resolute in its ownership and leadership of the security of its people.  Yet, sexual violence is a persistent remnant of the country’s conflict, when for a protracted period, women were excluded from political and development processes and sexual violence was exacerbated, owing to impunity.  Today, Liberia is poised to adopt its second national action plan on women, peace and security, and garner budgetary support for its implementation.  It aims to establish gender units in nine ministries and agencies to address the mainstreaming of gender into institutional frameworks and ensure the passage of the domestic violence bill into law.  Stressing that dialogues in community “peace huts” have focused on issues related to sexual and gender-based violence, among others, he said Liberia is committed to leveraging a multi-stakeholder, multisectoral approach to fighting that scourge.

HELENA DEL CARMEN YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador) called for meaningful gender equality by guaranteeing women’s full participation in politics and economic and social life, as well as access to receptive justice institutions.  A holistic prevention-focused approach is needed, involving legislative and judiciary reforms.  It is important that survivors can access justice with dignity and are duly compensated.  Combating impunity is essential, she said, stressing that women must be involved in decision-making, conflict resolution and peacebuilding.  Ecuador’s legal framework is based on the Constitution — which explicitly mandates the State to punish all forms of violence — and binding international instruments that the country has ratified.  Ending gender violence has been enshrined in public policy for years, and in 2018, Ecuador enacted a law to end violence against women through a national system to provide prevention, care and reparations.  She welcomed the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance policy and voluntary commitment to end sexual abuse, which Ecuador signed and which complements resolution 1325 (2000).

BERNARDITO AUZA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, noting the range of negative effects caused by sexual violence, emphasized that impunity must give way to accountability.  In today’s world of protracted and complex conflicts, terrorist organizations and other non-State actors, including criminal gangs, commit crimes of sexual violence on a massive scale, he said, stressing, however, that these are not the only perpetrators of such crimes.  Members of national armed forces and “even some of those who serve under the United Nations flag” have added to the misery of the most fragile populations, he said.  Turning to the question of children conceived as a result of sexual violence, he underlined the importance of respecting and even guaranteeing the human rights of these children, saying these young, innocent lives should we welcomed, cherished and given the means necessary to flourish and reach their full human potential.

RENÉ ALFONSO RUIDÍAZ PÉREZ (Chile) expressed support for the Secretary-General’s gender equality intuitive as well as that of zero tolerance for sexual violence crimes.  Outlining national efforts to promote a more inclusive society in which women are empowered, he said more work is needed to understand the crime of sexual violence in conflict and support those who denounce it.  To ensure justice is served, victims must be able to achieve some level of material and spiritual reparations.  The culture of impunity must be turned into one of accountability, he added.  Chile has developed curricula on gender equality and women’s empowerment to train its armed forces, and is bolstering the role of women in peace negotiations and mediations.  Enhancing the participation of women in peacekeeping operations and in decision-making roles, as well as the deployment of gender advisers, will also be crucial going forward, he said.

ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) agreed with other speakers that preventing sexual violence requires fostering equality and the empowerment of women before, during and after conflict.  Female career officials have been graduating from Paraguay’s military academy since 2006, and many have been deployed as part of United Nations peacekeeping operations.  Effective public policies and legislation, as well as the provision of necessary infrastructure to support them, have also been put in place to support such endeavours, he said.

JEANNE D'ARC BYAJE, Permanent Observer for the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), welcomed the demonstration by States of the political will to grapple with conflict-related abuse, assuring them of the Community’s continued efforts to harmonize national legislation with regional and international instruments.  Noting that rape has become a weapon of war, she said peacekeeping practices must be changed.  Seven of the 11 member States of ECCAS have outlined national action plans based on resolution 1325 (2000), while a regional action plan for its implementation was endorsed, she said.  Recalling the 250,000 rape victims who saw their dreams shattered forever during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, she said women suffer daily abuse at the hands of armed groups running amok in the subregion.  Tackling the causes of such violence requires the allocation of resources for prevention efforts; strengthening social justice mechanisms; ensuring assessment and follow-up on progress; and guaranteeing the prosecution of perpetrators and compensation for victims.

The representative of the Republic of Korea took the floor a second time to state that the issue of comfort women is a matter of universal human rights related to conflict-related sexual violence.  The Republic of Korea will continue to cooperate with the international community on this issue, he added.

The representative of Japan said his country’s Government has been dealing with the issue of comfort women for a long time.  Recalling that Japan and the Republic of Korea reached agreement in 2015 confirming that the issue is resolved “finally and irreversibly”, he underscored the importance of implementing the accord.

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