Security Council: Statement by Ambassador Thoms in the Open Debate on "Women, Peace and Security: Sexual Violence in Conflict"
At the outset, I would like to thank Nigeria for having organized today’s Open Debate. My thanks also go to the Secretary-General and his Special Representative Zainab Bangura for their very insightful briefings. I also thank Ms. Rhoda Disaka for her statement on behalf of civil society.
Germany aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.
We welcome the Secretary-General’s comprehensive report on conflict-related sexual violence, and we commend UN staff in the different agencies and in the field, who have contributed to the report in such detail. Progress has been made in the fight against sexual violence in conflict since the adoption of Resolution 1325 and subsequent resolutions. However, sexual violence has not been abolished. It is time to take stock of what has been achieved. Implementation and consolidation of measures to prevent and end conflict-related sexual violence have to be our main objectives.
Let me make a few suggestions on how to further advance the Women, Peace and Security Agenda:
First, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of effective and meaningful participation of women with the aim to promote gender equality, which is the essence of Resolution 1325, and to end sexual violence. Women themselves know best what they and their children need in order to feel safe, to protect themselves and their families, and to rebuild their lives and their communities after a crisis. They need a seat at the table at all levels of conflict prevention, peace negotiation, transitional justice and reconstruction. It is not enough to just let them be observers of decision-making processes. This is especially important at the local level but also in the national and international context. The UN need to ensure that women are involved in all UN-led peace and reconciliation talks. To achieve an active involvement of women, civil society organizations can play an important role. They can connect women’s organizations and train women representatives, and thereby empower women to take their rightful place in all decision-making processes.
Second, it is well-known that sexual violence is a prevalent element of most armed conflicts and sometimes even used as a tactic of warfare. The recent events in South Sudan where radio broadcasts were used to incite sexual violence are a stark reminder of this appalling reality. Still, most perpetrators go unpunished and are not held accountable for their actions. These actions destroy the lives of women, children and whole communities in the long-term. Accountability is the promising way to promote lasting reconciliation. If hatred and fear prevail in a society, peace will not be possible. Accountability is first and foremost the responsibility of each state. Therefore, national capacities need to be supported and built. Justice and security sector reforms are essential. When effective prosecution in a state concerned is not possible, the only way to achieve justice for victims and survivors is to transfer these cases to international jurisdiction, including to the International Criminal Court.
Third, prevention of sexual violence, especially by preventing conflict in the first place, has to be the goal of all our efforts. In order to prevent sexual violence in ongoing conflicts, the elimination of gender-based imbalances in a society is crucial. To that end coordination between all relevant sectors is essential. This includes security, service provision, justice, human rights, development and peace building. We thank UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict for its work in ensuring such coordination to achieve more efficient results and use of resources, and we encourage all UN Agencies to continue their commitment to this critical inter-agency initiative.
Fourth, data collection is essential for our ability to prevent, protect and respond, as well as the pre-condition for any justice and accountability mechanism at national and international levels. Women Protection Advisors (WPA) therefore need to be deployed, and monitoring and reporting arrangements (MARA) should be established in all relevant peacekeeping and special political missions. We welcome the mandating of Women Protection Advisors in the newly established Mission in the Central African Republic, which will face the challenge of integrating women protection issues into all DDR and SSR processes, and to ensure that survivors of sexual violence have access to all psycho-social and medical services in order to protect their sexual and reproductive rights.
Germany has recently ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, which has clear provisions related to serious acts of gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against women and children. We would like to call on all states to follow our example and sign and ratify the ATT in a timely manner.
Germany will continue its support to UN Women and all other relevant actors, including civil society organizations, to ensure that women’s active participation and their important contribution in conflict resolution and peace building are adequately taken into account.
Thank you, Mister President."