Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Briefers, Council Members,
Time and time again, we hear in this Chamber how sexual violence is being used as a tactic of war. And every year this report puts into stark relief how we continue to fall short in effectively addressing both the immediate effects, and the root causes of
conflict-related sexual violence - a grave violation of international law.
This is completely abhorrent.
I therefore wish to thank the UK for focusing this year’s open debate on accountability as prevention.
I want to thank especially Ms. Murad, Ms. Karkoutly and Ms. Berhanu for your powerful interventions, and for sharing your recommendations. Your testimonies remind us how participation and protection are inextricably linked.
We see in Syria: conflict-related sexual violence in detention settings; the heightened risk of sexualized violence against displaced women; and negative coping mechanisms such as child labour and early and forced marriages. These are of particular concern.
In Ethiopia, we are horrified by numerous reports of systematic rape and gender-based violence. We welcome the commission of experts established by the Human Rights Council, to investigate allegations of human rights violations and abuses by all parties. This is essential for accountability, prevention, and reconciliation.
And in Ukraine, we are deeply shocked by the atrocities committed against civilians in places that have been held by Russian forces, as well as the disturbing reports of conflict-related sexual violence. Ukrainian women and girls are placed further at risk by targeted Russian attacks against civilian infrastructure- forcing displacement and family separation, and depriving victims and survivors from access to essential health services.
In this Council, we are still discussing what a “comprehensive, human-rights based and
survivor-centred approach” means. To make the move to actual implementation, we must recognise the root causes of CRSV and dare to suggest concrete measures.
In this spirit, I will put forward three areas that Norway firmly believes will promote accountability and prevention- if sufficiently scaled up, addressed jointly, and through multi-stakeholder coordination.
First, we must build the capacity of law-enforcement, security, and military sector personnel- in both UN peace operations, and national institutions. This helps reinforce accountability structures, tackles underlying structural inequalities and attitudes, and ensures that policies and action plans are actually put to use.
A good example is how the UNMISS SGBV Specialized Police Team is supporting South Sudan’s National Police Service.
Second, we must invest in access to coordinated healthcare and services, legal services, and information.
A commendable example is UNFPA’s One-Stop Centres which are established in cooperation with local authorities, like in Mosul, Iraq.
Third, placing the needs of survivors at the centre of our efforts means also promoting and supporting their agency. They themselves must be allowed to define and design what they think are necessary measures for: prevention, protection, and accountability. As USG Patten has highlighted: “reparations are what survivors of CRSV request most, and yet still receive least”.
Let me also congratulate you Nadia, and the UK on today’s launch of the Murad Code, an important initiative to place survivors’ rights at the centre of investigations and documentation of CRSV.
Financing and resourcing go hand-in-hand with monitoring and implementation of all three of these recommendations. As has been highlighted by the USG’s office- and echoed by UN Women, UNFPA, and civil society: the scale of the resources is far from equal to the scale of actions needed on the ground.
Council Members and the broader UN membership must join forces to ensure that the UN and CSOs have the necessary expertise, financing, and access in place.
President, a final point: We all recognise that the elephant in the room is the lack of political will. By sending a strong, collective signal, through all Council decisions, and in our dialogue with conflict parties, we must remind them of their obligations and influence their actions.
We must insist on women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation and protection from violence, not merely as an end in itself, but as a prerequisite for peace and stability.
I hope the Council will send a strong signal today, clearly condemning any, and all, use of conflict-related sexual violence.