SC: Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security: Sexual Violence in Conflict

Last updated: 4/25/2014 // This statement was held on behalf of the Nordic countries by Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden Ms. Signe Burgstaller in the Security Council on 25 April 2014.

Madam President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries; Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

First, let me thank the Secretary-General and the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Bangura for their statements, and express the continued and strong support of the Nordic countries for their work against sexual violence in conflict

The appalling situation faced by survivors of sexual violence calls for our urgent attention. Sexual violence in conflict must stop. A strong normative framework is in place, the UN Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security being the most prominent constituent, and we call on the full implementation of these resolutions.

As the Secretary-General points out in his report, we have reached a stage where implementation is what counts. The responsibility lies with all of us and Member States must commit themselves to implementation. The burning question is: how do we do it?

It is important to address both the causes and consequences of sexual violence. We need to work on deterring new crimes and we need to hold perpetrators accountable. While the primary responsibility for this lies with the states, the role of the International Criminal Court is also of crucial importance.

The Nordic countries commend the work done by the UN Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict in strengthening the capacities of states to address such violence. The Justice Rapid Response-UN Women Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Justice Experts Roster has proven to be another important and effective tool to address crimes related to sexual and gender-based violence in conflict. 

Madam President,

Promoting gender equality and women’s participation is critical if we are to ever tackle the causes of sexual violence. We must always remember that women are not only victims; they are also a great resource for their communities and countries. A fundamental part of combatting sexual violence is that women will be actively involved in political decision-making and in the economic life in their societies, and that their voices are heard and respected. Women’s input is key to finding the right solutions and put an end to these crimes. The role and influence of civil society in preventing and addressing sexual violence are essential and must be supported.

Therefore, investments in gender equality and women’s full enjoyment of human rights – not least in fragile states ­– must be seen as core to preventing sexual violence in conflict. We know that women’s participation is essential for building sustainable peace. Thus we need to ensure that women’s rights must never be a marginalized side-activity that take place only after all the “hard” security issues have been dealt with.

It is crucial to ensure that the Women, Peace and Security agenda is duly reflected in all engagements relating to international peace and security. We expect the Security Council to ensure that gender perspectives are consistently mainstreamed in country resolutions and in authorizations and renewals of mandates, as laid out in resolutions 1960 and 2106. We would like to particularly highlight the requirement to Missions to establish monitoring and reporting arrangements on sexual violence.

The Nordic countries would also like to emphasize the importance of women’s participation in the design of security sector reform and in disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration processes. We welcome the Secretary-General’s focus on this in his report. Flawed SSR and DDR processes can lead to impunity and insecurity with widespread sexual violence, even after the end of a conflict.

Madam President,

The number of internally displaced persons and refugees continues to rise to unprecedented levels. In his report, the Secretary-General points to sexual violence as a driver of displacement and highlights the increased risks faced by displaced women and girls, who make up the majority of displaced persons.

To further assist in this regard, the UN should advance the deployment of Women Protection Advisors and Gender Advisors in both peacekeeping and political missions as well as in humanitarian operations. Across sectors and actors, the UN needs to remain vigilant about the need to address sexual violence in conflict by ensuring the highest standards and training of its personnel.

Another issue that is reflected in the Secretary-General´s report, and which deserves more attention, is sexual violence perpetrated against men and boys. The lack of national legislation, specialized services and the stigma associated with these violations are among the factors that prevent recognition of this violence as a crime.

Effective measures to end impunity should be combined with multi-sectoral services to survivors of sexual violence, including their access to legal services and health services. We strongly support Secretary-General’s call for survivors’ access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services and welcome his acknowledgement of the UN’s particular responsibility in this regard.  

Madam President, I thank you for this opportunity to share some of our views on preventing sexual violence in conflict.


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