SC: Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

Joint Nordic Statement in the UN Security Council Open Debate on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, 14 July 2023.

The Statement was delivered by the Permanent Representative of Denmark Ambassador Martin Bille Hermann on behalf of Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.

Deputy Foreign Minister, Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

I am delivering this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries – Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and my own country, Denmark.

Thank you first and foremost to our distinguished briefers for their sobering statements and your vital work in this field.


Throughout 2022, sexual violence continued to be used as a tactic of war, as an intimidation tool, as a way to dehumanize and destroy communities and the lives of civilians in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Libya, Myanmar and South Sudan.

We are deeply alarmed by the reports of persisting and deepening patterns of sexual violence by both State and non-State actors.

In Ukraine, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry have documented and reported sexual violence as a form of torture and inhumane treatment against civilians and prisoners of war. The violence is perpetrated, overwhelmingly, by Russian military personnel.

Conflict-related sexual violence is a clear violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

And as the Secretary-General has pointed out time and again, impunity for acts of conflict-related sexual violence remains the norm. This needs to be addressed. Conflict-related sexual violence can and must be prevented and countered. It is within the power and responsibility of Member States to make that happen.

To this end, the Nordic countries would like to emphasize the following:

  • First, Member States must investigate all cases, prosecute perpetrators through appropriate judicial mechanisms, and guarantee access to justice for victims and survivors.
  • Second, our humanitarian response to CRSV must be gender-transformative and put survivors’ needs front and center. This could be through cash programming, sexual and reproductive health services such as access to emergency contraception and safe and timely abortion care, as well as mental health and psychosocial support.
  • Third, all sanctions regimes must explicitly include sexual and gender-based violence as a designation criterion. Security Council sanctions committees should list perpetrators when there is repeated evidence of CRSV, including as put forward annually in the annex of the SG’s report.
  • Lastly, the skills to act on CRSV and to refer different types of victims to appropriate service providers must be built across peace operations – not just among women peacekeepers. The notion that women are inherently better at responding to CRSV both perpetuates the idea that their primary added value is related to their gender and reflects a narrow understanding of the survivors and perpetrators of CRSV.

Excellencies, protection is the bedrock for women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in political, social and economic processes, which is in turn critical to ending conflict-related sexual violence and preventing its recurrence. We can therefore no longer watch survivors being sidelined from security policy. We will continue to work in collaboration with all partners, including security stakeholders and institutions, civil society and women-led and feminist organizations, not least at the local level, to push back on any attempt to hinder the full, equal and meaningful participation of all women. Let me also underline that the Nordics continue to stand firm on zero tolerance for any reprisals against women human rights defenders and fully support their advocacy for gender equality and defending human rights.

I thank you.