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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

– Check against delivery –  

Excellencies, Distinguished Participants, ladies and gentlemen, 

I am speaking on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Serbia*, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine and Georgia, align themselves with this statement. 

I thank the Secretary-General, the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura and Jane Anywar on behalf of the Women’s Initiative for Gender Justice for their statements. 

Mr President, 

Today’s debate addresses the root cause of recurring and pervasive sexual violence in conflict – the often predominant culture of impunity, which allows these crimes to go unrecorded, unpunished and, at worst, tolerated by the community or society. We cannot combat sexual violence and, more broadly, ensure effective conflict resolution and peace-building without tackling this gap – at the national and international level. These actions must include: 

– Ensuring adequate information, fact-finding and documentation. Sexual violence in conflict remains universally underreported. This is i.a. the result of threats faced by those who come forward to report this crime. We again reiterate the need to take all measures for the protection of survivors, witnesses, humanitarian workers, medical personnel, human rights defenders, in particular women organizations, and journalists who contribute to collecting and promoting collecting information on sexual violence. The EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders pay particular attention to vulnerable human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders and those working on conflict issues. 

– Ensuring the prosecution of crimes of sexual violence and punishing perpetrators of crimes against women and girls, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, under national and international law. We underline the need to make efforts to strengthen the rule of law, including the existing justice mechanisms in this regard. We emphasise the significant advancement in international law made by the Rome Statute of the ICC, which includes sexual violence in the definition of crimes, in particular as a crime against humanity and note that the ICC, as well as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and other non-permanent International Criminal Tribunals continue to be important mechanisms in combating sexual violence in conflict. We further acknowledge the national efforts to implement the Rome Statute of the ICC. The crimes of sexual violence must be excluded from amnesty provisions in the context of conflict resolution processes. We also support the continued application of targeted and graduated measures by relevant SC sanctions committees aimed at perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict as well as other measures at its disposal, including referrals to the ICC and mandating commissions of inquiry and further steps towards ensuring systematic monitoring of commitments by parties to conflict under its resolution 1960(2010). 

– Ensuring women´s leadership and the participation of women in peace processes and conflict resolution, as part of the comprehensive implementation of UNSCR 1325 – these processes should also recognise explicitly the need to address crimes of sexual violence, as they lay the foundation for future institution building as well as political and legal reforms. We urge the Council to continue to keep this essential aspect of conflict resolution under close view. 

– Ensuring the availability of reparations as a form of transitional gender justice as well as accessible services, including health, education, psychosocial, legal and economic support. 

– Raising awareness and combating the “normalisation” of sexual violence, also beyond the end of the conflict – to counter stigmatisation, shame and fear of social exclusion, which perpetuate underreporting of sexual violence. More concretely, this should also be accompanied by training provided to military and police forces, as well as civil servants and members of judiciary. At the UN level, the EU continues to underline the importance of the continued deployment of women’s and child protection advisers. 

Mr President, 

We welcome the efforts to include sexual violence in actions to ensure international peace and security, including the provisions related to gender-based violence in the recently adopted UN Arms Trade Treaty. We strongly support the call of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in March 2013 to ensure that in armed conflict and post-conflict situations the prevention of and response to all forms of violence against women and girls, including sexual violence, are effectively addressed, including through the investigation, prosecution and punishment of perpetrators to end impunity, removal of barriers to women’s access to justice and the establishment of complaint and reporting mechanisms. We welcome the recent commitments of the G8 to enhance efforts to address impunity for sexual violence in conflict, including the endorsement of the development of an International Protocol on the Investigation and Documentation of sexual violence in conflict.

Mr President, 

The European Union continues to implement its dedicated policy on women, peace and security, adopted in 2008; our support to various initiatives related to women, peace and security amounts to about 200 million euros a year. The EU is envisaging increased funding to prevention and response efforts such as programming to combat gender-based violence, including sexual violence, from the first phase of conflict and humanitarian emergencies. The EU also continues to support initiatives to strengthen international criminal justice and the rule of law. The EU now has gender advisors and/or human rights focal points in each of its crisis management missions and operations around the world. We continue our work on specific training modules on human rights and gender in crisis management, ensuring a focus on sexual violence in armed conflicts. The focus of this year’s annual EU Member State seminar on UNSCR 1325, held with the participation of SRSG Bangura, was on transitional justice and gender and combating impunity. 

The EU supports the swift deployment of human rights observers in Mali by the AU and the UN and provides financial support to the deployment of independent human rights observers. The EU training mission in Mali includes training on gender and human rights for the Malian Armed Forces.  

Mr President, 

We continue to support the work of the SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict as well as of the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict, particularly the team’s concrete support to national justice systems in addressing impunity. The EU has welcomed the report of the Secretary General on the implementation of the Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security and the recommendations contained therein. We underline the need to further develop, promote and, most importantly, implement the tools the Security Council has developed in its resolutions on women, peace and security. 

We therefore welcome the adoption of the resolution by the Council today. We believe that, as an expression of the Council’s continued determination to keep this issue under close scrutiny, it helps to support the Member States and the UN system in further implementing their commitments on combating sexual violence. 

Thank you.

* Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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