Thank you to the Special-Representative, and our distinguished briefers for sharing your important insights. The courageous leadership of Dr. Mukwege and Ms. Atim is truly inspiring and crucial. Thanks also to Ms. Colijn. Norway commends you for your tireless work.
Conflict related sexual violence is a violation of international humanitarian law and a violation and abuse of human rights. One which primarily affects women and girls, but also men and boys. It may also constitute a war crime, or a crime against humanity. Crimes of this gravity cannot simply be accepted as a side effect of armed conflict.
Shortly after the adoption of resolution 2467, the SGBV conference in Oslo brought together a wide range of actors, making hundreds of commitments to end SGBV in humanitarian crises and conflict.
Despite progress made, the recent Secretary-General’s report confirms that sexual violence continues to be deliberately used as a tactic of war, torture, and terror. These documented incidents represent just the tip of the iceberg. The report paints a harrowing picture of sexual violence in the DRC, South-Sudan, and Tigray. Women were also specifically targeted for their activism, including in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Yemen. We call on all parties to implement the Secretary-General’s recommendations.
We particularly note the commitment by the Government of Ethiopia to investigate the many accounts of brutal and systematic sexual violence in Tigray. Credible and independent investigations are essential. We therefore call for making full use of the support offered by OHCHR and the office of SRSG Patten.
It is imperative that conflict related sexual violence is addressed in ceasefire and peace agreements, including in the definition of prohibited acts; and in ensuring monitoring, and implementation of commitments.
We must turn commitments into compliance, and resolutions into results. Resolution 2467 calls for strengthened focus on justice and accountability, and a survivor-centred approach.
We must ensure its full implementation by keeping the rights of survivors, in all their diversity, at the forefront. Support to survivors must be age- and gender sensitive and include: access to health care, sexual and reproductive health and rights, psychosocial support, and access to justice. And we must ensure survivors full, equal, and meaningful participation.
We must also tackle intersecting inequalities and root causes. We condemn the targeting of people based on disabilities, and actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. We are also appalled by the increase in CRSV against children. We reiterate that States carry the responsibility to protect women and children from rape and sexual violence. As Chair of the Working Group for Children And Armed Conflict, we call on our fellow Council Members to work to adopt strong and operational conclusions.
We also need a more comprehensive, coordinated, and targeted effort by peace operations in combatting sexual violence. This is why we supported the production of ‘The Policy and Handbook on Preventing and Responding to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence’, which provides practical guidance to civilian, military and police components.
We also look forward to the first report on peacekeeping missions’ implementation of CRSV mandates. Thankfully, we already have examples of best practice to build on. Including the ongoing work of UNMISS in supporting the implementation of the national action plan on CRSV through capacity-building and awareness-raising. We are proud to count Norwegian personnel among the UN police team supporting the South Sudanese police in investigating sexual and gender-based violence.
In closing, I would like to make four points on how Norway believes we should move forward:
First, we must ensure a survivor-centred approach. One which demands the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women and survivors, in all their diversity.
Second, protection against conflict related sexual violence must remain a key priority for this Council and we must make use of all means at our disposal. Sexual violence as a stand-alone designation criterion for sanctions must be applied when applicable, and it should be a criterion in more sanction regimes. In this respect, we welcome the recent decision by the Yemen Sanctions Committee to list individuals on the basis of sexual violence.
Third, our efforts must seek to prevent sexual violence. This includes fighting impunity. We must do more to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. We need an appropriate mechanism through which the Council can monitor compliance by parties to conflict.
Finally, we must maintain the momentum from the Oslo Conference to make SGBV prevention and response a key humanitarian priority. This Council must be a strong voice. We cannot allow our political commitments being reversed by COVID-19.