– 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*, Iceland[†] and Serbia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this declaration.
I thank the Secretary-General, the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura and the representative of the NGO Working Group for their statements.
The latest report of the Secretary-General to the Council reaffirms the pervasiveness of sexual violence and its interconnection with various aspects of the maintenance of peace and security. We note in this regard the attention drawn to the nexus between sexual violence and the illicit extraction of natural resources, the forcible displacement of civilian populations and the inadequacy of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and security sector reform efforts. The recently adopted UN Arms Trade Treaty states that the risk of the conventional arms being used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence needs to be taken into account by its State Parties. This reaffirms that sexual violence needs to be, from the start, considered as part of all actions to ensure international peace and security in order for these to be effective.
Sexual violence has, in addition to its devastating impact on the survivors, a broad and long-lasting effect on communities and states as a whole for generations, not least through the plight of children born as a result of rape. Sexual violence continues to be perpetrated as a tactic of war, also against men and boys, including in the context of detention or interrogation, on which further information is needed.
Sexual violence in conflict remains prevalent, yet universally underreported. This is i.a. the result of threats faced by those who come forward to report this crime. We underline the need to take all measures for the protection of survivors, witnesses, humanitarian workers, medical personnel, human rights defenders and journalists who contribute to aiding survivors and 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.
We welcome the joint call of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in its most recent conclusions from 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 and gender-based 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, the establishment of complaint and reporting mechanisms, the provision of support to victims and survivors, affordable and accessible health care services, including sexual and reproductive health, and reintegration measures. We support the availability of reparations as a form of transitional gender justice. We underline the need for national ownership, leadership and responsibility in addressing sexual violence.
The prosecution of crimes of sexual violence is an important deterrent to future crimes. Ensuring accountability and punishing perpetrators of the most serious crimes against women and girls under national and international law, holding the alleged perpetrators of those crimes accountable under national or international justice remains essential. We note 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. The ICC continues to be an important mechanism in combating sexual violence in conflict.
We 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, mandating commissions of inquiry and further steps towards ensuring systematic monitoring of commitments by parties to conflict under its resolution 1960(2010).
We welcome 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 note positively the further establishment of the monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements on conflict-related sexual violence. We also welcome the continued and systematic deployment of women’s protection advisers. 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 will include training on gender and human rights.
We strongly condemn the systematic and widespread sexual violence, referred to in the report, used to punish, intimidate and subjugate women and girls in Mali and the use of rape as a tactic war in rebel-controlled zones. The report also refers to two distinct trends regarding sexual violence identified by the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic in its reports: the occurrence of sexual violence during house searches and at checkpoints and the perpetration of rape and torture in the context of detention. We also note the two major patterns of sexual violence detected by the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of Congo: systematic targeting by armed groups of civilians to control areas rich in natural resources and retaliation against communities, often on the basis of the real or perceived ethnicity of the survivors, for supposed political and economic gain.
The European Union continues to implement its dedicated policy on women, peace and security, adopted in 2008. The EU support to various initiatives related to women, peace and security support 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.
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.
We continue to work closely with UN Women and support initiatives to ensure greater participation of women in peace-building and post-conflict planning and to meaningfully engage in, influence and mobilize for dialogues on security and peace issues nationally and regionally.
The EU and its Member States highly appreciate 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, including its coordination with other international entities, such as Justice Rapid Response and the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, and the recent commitments of the G8 to do more 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. We continue to support its efforts as well as those of the UN system, the Member States and all actors involved in preventing and responding to conflict related sexual violence.
* Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process
† Iceland continues to be a member of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area