17 June 2022, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by H.E. Ambassador Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of Delegation, European Union Delegation to the United Nations, on Prevention as Protection: Enhancing structural and operational prevention of conflict-related sexual violence, on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict
– CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY –
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Candidate Countries Turkey and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this statement.
Our appreciation goes to the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, Argentina, and the briefers for today’s important meeting.
667 days since the military coup in Mali,
Nearly 600 days since the start of the crisis in Tigray,
500 days since the coup in Myanmar,
305 days since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan,
117 days since the illegal Russian aggression of Ukraine.
As new crises escalate, entrenched wars march on, including in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, or Yemen.
The fact is that we are facing the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945, with the return of invasions, military coups, and rising impunity.
Women and those in vulnerable situations are bearing the brunt of instability. Sexual and gender-based violence is on the rise, used as a method of warfare, terror and torture. Reports of sexual violence committed by Russian forces in Ukraine are horrifying. We support the efforts of SRSG Patten to assist survivors and ensure accountability.
As underlined by EU gender and diversity Ambassador Stella Ronner at the Security Council two days ago, we need less words, and more action.
Let me outline 4 priorities:
First, we must address the underlying root causes of sexual violence. It is time all members of this organisation take a clear stance against discrimination on any ground, including based on sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, belonging to a minority, property, birth, disability, age, sexual orientation and gender identity. These discriminations fuel violence and exclusion. We must fight them collectively.
Second, impunity must stop. Prosecution and accountability are key to ensuring long lasting peace. As recognised by the Security Council, it is urgent to strengthen legal procedures at national, regional and international levels, notably through the Rome Statute and the ICC. Concerning UN sanctions, we reiterate our support for the Security Council to incorporate and apply sexual and gender-based violence as a designation criterion in UN sanction regimes in a systematic manner.
Third, civil society must remain at the centre of all efforts. We deplore that women peacebuilders, mediators, journalists, politicians, humanitarian workers, civil society leaders and human rights defenders face increasing and specific challenges, including threats to their safety and freedom, which often hamper their ability to act. It is our collective responsibility to call out these threats when they happen, including in this building, hold perpetrators accountable, and defend civic space.
Fourth, a survivor-centred approach must guide our actions, with a focus on ensuring accessible and quality multi-sectoral assistance, including access to psychological and legal services, as well as to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, in line with the Programme of Action of the ICPD and the Beijing Platform for Action, and the outcomes of their reviews. The EU as part of the Call to Action is advocating and promoting the combat against all forms of sexual and gender-based violence as a priority in humanitarian contexts.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The European Union and its Member States stand united in our unwavering commitment to support survivors and end impunity for the perpetrators. We will continue to actively use all our tools to that effect.
* Albania continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.