PoC: Conflict related Sexual Violence

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Trine Heimerback in the Protection of Civilians Week side event 'Ensuring protection of all survivors of conflict related sexual violence: Gender responsive measures to meet survivors’ needs', 22 May 2023.

The event was co-hosted by the Missions of Belgium, Colombia, Canada, Liechtenstein, Malta, Norway, Switzerland, UK and the All Survivors Projetct and OSRSG Children and Armed Conflict.

Good morning. Excellencies, friends,

Let me also complement Colombia for the work that has been done on this topic. This really give us hope.

Norway is proud to co-host this event on protection of CRSV survivors, and in particular, to highlight the situation for boys and men.

As we are sitting here, conflict related sexual violence is being used as a means to spread fear and intimidation for political and military gain around the world. It is even being used to ethnically cleanse or humiliate an ethnic group. It is used to destroy the social fabric of communities and we must do everything we can, to stop this.

Sexual violence is a global problem and affects people of all genders and all ages. And while women and girls are primarily targeted, we need more attention to the fact that men, boys, and sexual minorities are also affected. Particularly in situations of detention, but also in other contexts.

Research within this field is scarce, so there is a need for more. We thank actors such as All Survivor’s Project, in partnership with the OSRSG CAAC, that help us develop a better understanding of CRSV against men and boys. And with better understanding, we can tailor more appropriate adequate actions to prevent, respond and to hold perpetrators accountable. Norway is pleased to have contributed to enable this important work. But more has to be done.

Prevention and response to SGBV, including CRSV, is a key priority in the Norwegian humanitarian strategy. And we held it high on the agenda as elected member of the UN Security Council.

We are appalled by the increase in CRSV against children. We take this opportunity to underline once again that states carry the responsibility to protect all their citizens: women, men, children as well as sexual minorities from sexual violence. And they carry the responsibility to provide appropriate services for survivors.

We condemn the targeting of people based on disabilities, actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Let me make four points on how we should move forward:

1. We need to turn commitments into compliance, and resolutions into results. Results meaning better protection from sexual violence. We have the tools we need, but we must use them more effectively. We all know that prevention is better than cure, particularly when it comes to CRSV. We must tackle intersecting inequalities and root causes at the same time.

2. We must prevent recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups. Recruitment and use is a Grave Violation in itself, but it also enables multiple other violations, including sexual violence.

The importance of education as a lifesaver cannot be overstated in this context. Children who are not in school are easy targets of abuse, exploitation and recruitment by armed forces and groups. Education can also help children who are exploited and abused to normalise life and reintegrate into society. Reducing the numbers of children detained in situations of armed conflict is a key element in lessening the number of boys and girls exposed to CRSV in detention settings.

3. We must also step up our efforts to fight impunity. We must do more to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. And, to put an end to the widespread use of sexual violence as a method of war. We must maintain SGBV prevention and response a key humanitarian priority.

4. And finally; the rights and needs of survivors must remain at the forefront. Services must be age- and gender sensitive, survivor-centred, and trauma-informed. They must include access to health care, sexual and reproductive health and rights, psychosocial support and access to justice and redress.

We must work to ensure survivor-centered approach with the full, equal and meaningful participation of survivors, in all their diversity.

As I said: we have the tools we need. And we urge Norway and all other states to use them wisely as we go ahead.

Thank you.