I am delivering this statement on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and my own country, Norway.
Let me thank Uruguay for initiating this very timely debate. Let me also thank Special Representative Zainab Bangura for her service, and welcome Pramila Patten. We depend on the Special Representative’s continued leadership.
The persisting impunity of sexual violence is intolerable. The numbing stigma must be dealt with. When people flee to be safe, we should make it our priority to ensure that they are not exposed to new abuse.
Sexual violence must be included in ceasefire agreements. It must be on the table in peace negotiations and part of our analysis in humanitarian operations and at the forefront in our peacekeeping.
We must deal with inconsistencies: Often rape is treated as a burden the woman herself must carry, while a gun wound is a matter of national security. Yet, sexual violence undermines the societies we are striving to stabilize and rebuild. It destroys the future as well as the present for many more than those directly affected.
This fact should mobilize the whole peace and security architecture. If we are serious about sustaining peace, we must ensure that prevention is not only a priority, but the priority.
And when we have been unable to prevent the abuse, our approach must be centered on those who have suffered the crime; fight stigma, investigate and prosecute.
Our response to conflict-related sexual violence must be firm and all-encompassing. Impunity is unacceptable. Perpetrators must be held accountable.
The International Criminal Court plays a central role at the international level in the fight against impunity, but the capacities of national authorities must also be strengthened. States have the primary duty to prevent, investigate and prosecute sexual violence.
We value the work of UN Action and the UN Team of Experts, the unique capacity of Justice Rapid Response in cooperation with UN Women, providing needed expertise for investigating Sexual and Gender Based Violence. We support the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies led by Sweden, and appreciate the work of civil society, which remains key.
UN peacekeeping operations must have the capacity to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence and other human rights violations in communities where they operate. Female peacekeepers play an especially crucial role. Increasing the number of women serving in peace operations is therefore vital also from this perspective.
We deploy many women police and strive to increase the number in our military contingents. Because we want the best, irrespective of gender. A diverse team delivers better. We train our military and police personnel before deployment and in-mission on sexual and gender-based violence, and support the AU and African countries in their efforts.
The Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations is a resource, as is Sweden’s handbook for gender mainstreaming in operations. Recently Norway, in cooperation with key partners, started developing a handbook for military staff in UN operations, on prevention and response to sexual violence in conflict.
We thank the Secretary-General for his leadership in ensuring that the zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse in UN peacekeeping operations, becomes a reality.
The Nordic network of women mediators is evolving and more such networks are forming. We must draw upon their experience and competence.
The need for gender competence and inter-regional exchange is growing as people are on the move, facing new vulnerabilities as they seek new opportunities. This should spur us all to act more strategically and forcefully.