Side Event: Ambassador Wittig on Ending Violence against Women
(Remarks as delivered by Ambassador Wittig at a side-event to the 57th session of the Committee on the Status of Women on "Due Diligence from the Ground up: State Compliance to End Violence against Women)
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests,
On behalf of the German Mission, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all of you.
We are honored that we – together with our distinguished colleagues from Malaysia – have the possibility to host this side event on the topic of „Due Diligence from the ground up: State Compliance to End Violence against Women“.
I am particularly delighted to welcome today’s panelists. Some of our speakers have taken the burden of traveling far distances in order to be with us here today. We highly value your exceptional expertise and experience and I thank you for being with us here today. I also would like to thank the organizers of today’s event, Due Diligence Project Directors Janine Moussa and Zarizana Abdul Aziz. Ms. Moussa will present our panelists in a minute
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Respect for and protection of human rights, including women’s rights, is the central precondition for any prospering society. The German constitution, the basic law, begins by claiming the inviolability of human dignity and that it is the government’s obligation to both respect and protect this human dignity. With this obligation comes a State’s duty to exercise due diligence to prevent, protect, fulfill and promote human rights of all its citizens, including all women.
Let me briefly outline three major aspects that I consider fundamental for the idea of due diligence:
One: Human Rights, including Women’s rights, are universal, indivisible and inalienable. Neither relativism nor selectivity nor double standards in implementing them are tolerable. That is why international standards for assessing the compliance of a State with its due diligence commitments are necessary. Nongovernmental organizations like the Due Diligence Project do invaluable work in addressing the need for better due diligence of States and promoting this idea. This is why my government has supported this Project.
Two: the majority of violence against women is committed by non-State actors, for example by male relatives or partners. If we want to tackle this issue effectively, the State’s reluctance to interfere in so-called “private” conflicts needs to be overcome. We must enhance the awareness that States are not only responsible for their agents and the public sphere, but also for upholding and protecting human rights in the private realm as the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women has already pointed out in 1992.
Finally, the idea of due diligence is by far not exhausted by enacting better legislation or deploying more or better trained police forces, even though these are fundamental steps. We further should recognize due diligence as a structural and intersectional approach. This also entails comprehensive measures to create a broad public awareness of the issue of violence against women and of how to protect and respect women’s rights in this regard.
In this regard, the work of UN Women’s trust fund “End Violence against Women” – and one of our panelists will tell us more about its work- is doing a tremendously valuable job on the ground to fight violence against women. I am proud that my government gives financial support to this important Fund and I can only encourage others to do likewise.
All our speakers today are actively engaged in strengthening due diligence around the world. Active engagement is truly the most promising path towards a change of attitude and respect for human rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women.
With this in mind, I wish us all a fruitful discussion and hand over the floor to Janine Moussa to present our panelists.