High-Level Launch: Introductory remarks by Ambassador Wittig on addressing Sexual Violence in Ceasefire and Peace Agreements

Mar 9, 2012

(Near verbatim transcript of introductory remarks by Ambassador Wittig at the High-Level Launch of DPA Guidance for Mediators on addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Ceasefire and Peace Agreements in the German House)

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends. I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all of you on the occasion of  today’s launch of the DPA Guidance for Mediators on addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Ceasefire and Peace Agreements.

The German Mission is honoured to host the introduction and launch of this new mediation guidance. Your presence here is evidence of the high importance of this matter and its implications for international security and peacebuilding, which we will be discussing today.

Some of you have been directly involved in brokering groundbreaking peace and ceasefire agreements. It is a rare occasion to have so much mediation expertise around one table and I think that we all very much look forward to learning more today about your valuable experiences. Sometimes, multilateral diplomacy takes bold steps forward. Security Council resolution 1325 was one of them, as well as the follow-up resolutions 1820, 1888 and 1960. The normative framework is set, however, there is still al lack of implementation. The situation on the ground is still extremely disturbing. In this context the new Guidance for Mediators on addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in ceasefire and peace agreements is a very crucial tool to address sexual violence in security arrangements.

Often it takes decades for victims of conflict-related sexual violence to find the courage to even speak out. Often silence and the feeling of shame prevail. But the pursuit of justice and accountability for such crimes is so important. This Mediation Guidance is a clear signal that United Nations Mediators will not be complicit in this silence.

We know conflict-related sexual violence does not only affect women and girls, but also men and boys. However, women are the ones who are in most cases underrepresented in peace processes. By addressing the issue of sexual violence in ceasefire and peace agreements, this mediation guidance also will help to ensure the participation of women in a very important stage of peace processes. The value of  UN DPA`s  new guidance can therefore not be overestimated.

We cannot separate the challenge of sexual violence from the broader security issues on the Security Council`s agenda. In this regard I very warmly welcome SRSG Margot Wallström as chair of today`s discussion. We commend your very important work and assure you of Germany`s active support of your endeavors.

Let me say in closing, conflict-related sexual violence is not only a threat to peace and security, it is also a violation of basic human rights. Respect for human rights is of vital importance for Germany. Part of this active human rights policy is our candidacy for the Human Rights Council for the period 2013-2015.

To conclude, I can only applaud the United Nations Department of Political Affairs for their hard work that has gone into the completion of this mediation guidance. It is with great pleasure that I hand the floor to Under-Secretary-General Mr. Lynn Pascoe, for an introduction of this new guidance.

Thank you

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