SC: Open debate on conflict-related sexual violence - Nordic statement

Statement delivered by Denmark's DPR Erik Laursen on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden

Deputy Prime Minister, Excellences, 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 their important work in this field.

This past year was marked by new outbreaks and escalations of conflicts, exposing civilians to heightened levels of sexual and gender-based violence. This trend is fueled by arms proliferation and militarization among both state and non-state actors. Women and girls, in all their diversity, continue to be disproportionately affected by CRSV, not least due to patterns of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, and gender inequality predating the conflicts. Men, boys and LGBTI persons are also affected.

The full extent of CRSV on a global scale remains unknown as fear of reprisals and stigma act as long-standing and persistent barriers for survivors to   come forward. The Nordic countries express our grave concern at the severity and brutality of the cases recorded throughout 2023. 

The historical record the Secretary-General’s report represents is a testament to the daunting fact that sexual violence continues to play a significant role in the fabric of war. Approximately 70 to 90 per cent of incidents of conflict-related sexual violence involve small arms and light weapons. We therefore welcome the focus on the role of demilitarization and gender-responsive arms control in addressing CRSV. We want to highlight four points in this regard.

First, the Nordics support and reaffirm the importance of accelerated and timely deployment of gender advisors and women’s protection advisors to peace operations, including those undergoing transitions and phased drawdowns. In the context of UN mission withdrawals and reconfigurations, it is critical to retain gender expertise in shifting constellations of United Nations presence, as well as to ensure gender-responsive security and justice sector reform, arms control and disarmament provisions in mandate authorizations and renewals.

Second, the Nordics stress the need to empower women and ensure their free, equal and meaningful participation in disarmament, security sector reform and arms control decision-making processes. These efforts must be grounded in an understanding of the full spectrum of security risks women face not only when they are directly affected by conflict, but also when they are active in public life, for example as human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists or peacebuilders. 

Third, as we mark the fifteen-year anniversary of Security Council resolution 1888 we note the important work of the UN Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict, which remains the only Security Council mandated mechanism to work side by side with Member States to address these heinous crimes using domestic justice systems. We encourage fellow Member States to make use of this important tool and to consider supporting its work through voluntary contributions.

Fourth, the Nordic countries support efforts to include sexual and gender-based violence as a stand-alone designation criterion for targeted sanctions, and strengthen expertise on CRSV within sanctions committees as well as to list persistent perpetrators of CRSV crimes. We have the tools at our disposal; it’s time to utilize them.

Deputy Prime Minister, 

If we are to ensure that commitments on paper turn into concrete change in the lives of survivors on the ground, then we must use every tool available to eliminate conflict-related sexual violence whilst addressing its root causes.

I thank you.