Security Council: Statement by Ambassador Berger on Women, Peace and Security

Jun 24, 2013

(Statement as delivered by Ambassador Berger in an Open Debate of the Security Council on Women, Peace and Security)

"Mr President,

The fact that this is already the second open debate on sexual violence in conflict within three months clearly shows the importance the Security Council attaches to this issue. And this is not without reason: in most of the ongoing conflicts, be it in Syria, Mali or elsewhere, sexual violence occurs on a daily basis and is even used as a weapon of war. I therefore thank Great Britain for organizing this debate - and especially Minister Hague for his personal commitment. But I also congratulate the US for having so ably negotiated the resolution which was adopted today. We also commend the leadership of the Secretary General and the Special Representative Zainab Bangura and thank them as well as Jane Anywar (NGO) for their briefings today. A special thanks also goes to Ms Jolie for her active support and awareness raising for this issue. Germany aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union but I would also like to add some remarks in my national capacity.

Mr President,

We welcome the focus of today’s debate on addressing accountability and the fight against impunity. Let me be clear: Our ultimate goal has to be - first and foremost - the prevention of sexual violence in conflict. In cases where acts of sexual violence have already occurred it is indispensable that perpetrators are immediately brought to justice and survivors receive adequate support and redress. Only effective criminal prosecution during and after conflict will lead to an equally effective preventive system that can help to create long-term peace.

Let me stress some important points and give you some practical examples:

First: It cannot be stressed enough that part of an effective prevention of sexual violence is an equal involvement of women. Not only the consideration of their special needs, but also the participation in all stages of decision-making processes is essential. This also applies to programmes for “Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR)” as well as “Security Sector Reform (SSR)” and Transitional Justice. In this regard Germany has supported inter alia a regional project at the Horn of Africa to empower women, helping them to gain access to political and economical decision-making processes.

Second: When Sexual violence constitutes a crime against humanity, a war crime or even genocide, it has to be subject to punishment and has to be excluded from amnesty provisions. Whenever States are not willing or capable of fulfilling their responsibility of prosecuting perpetrators accordingly, the international community must react in order to prevent a culture of impunity, as it was also recently stressed by the G8 in London. Regional justice mechanisms and the ICC can also play an important role. We also welcome the work of the Team of Experts in SRSG Bangura's office in this regard. The German “Center for International Peace Operations” (ZIF) offers special pre-deployment courses to establish the rule of law which emphasize the need of prosecuting sexual violence and raise awareness for gender-based violence.

Third: Appropriate medical and psychosocial support for survivors of sexual violence, including access to sexual reproductive health services, as well as access to justice and reparations are fundamental prerequisites for an effective reintegration of women into their respective societies. Germany has, for example, funded several medical council centers in Congo where women can receive medical and psychological support as well as emergency HIV post-exposure prophylaxis. We also support transitional justice mechanisms such as truth and reconciliation committees and the dialogue between these and women’s rights organizations.

Lastly, our full support is needed for those who are essential to the fight against the scourge of sexual violence, such as human rights defenders, doctors and journalists, who are at special risk themselves.

Let me end by stressing that the Security Council has a role to play in monitoring the commitments made by parties to conflict. In this regard it can and should do more to hold perpetrator accountable. Without having to create a new mechanism it could already now make use of the tools at hand, for example, by reacting to cases of sexual violence in a certain country with Security Council Press Statements; by writing specific letters to concerned governments or by referring specific cases more frequently to the Sanctions Committees and – as a last resort – to the ICC.

Thank you, Mr. President."

© GermanyUN

Women's rights and gender equality

Sexual abuse, trafficking in women, domestic violence, forced marriage and genital mutilation are human rights violations which affect women and children almost exclusively. That's why the protection of women are central to Germany's human rights policy.