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Nordic Statement delivered by Ambassador Mona Juul in the Open debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict

SC: Sexual Violence in Conflict

Statement by Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway delivered by Ambassador Mona Juul in the Open debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict, 23 April 2019.

I am making this statement on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and my own country Norway, and thank Germany for organising today’s open debate on this critical topic.

With the adoption of resolution 2467 today, it is essential to advance the agenda of conflict-related sexual violence focusing on the survivors. Let us emphasise that survivors of conflict-related sexual violence deserve basic sexual and reproductive health and rights. We regret that sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, as reaffirmed by the Security Council in several resolutions, most recently in resolutions 1889 and 2106, were not included in the resolution.  

Nadia Murad and Dennis Mukwege. You bring with you the voices of the very people we are here to serve, whose communities the Security Council is set to safeguard. As we once again acknowledge that the devastating harm these women and girls, men and boys have been exposed to is a matter of national and international security, you are here to hold us accountable.

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Girls become mothers and children stateless. Women are raped and their husbands forced to watch. Reproductive organs are mutilated, and shame and stigma paralyse families and villages. These injuries of war call for a comprehensive response.

Sexual violence destroys lives, tears apart the social fabric of communities, creates rifts between neighbours, and  preys on the differences that enrich our societies. Those who are targeted are often discriminated against due to their religious, ethnic, sexual, political or other minority status.

It is now ten years since the mandate of the Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict was established. Wallström, Bangura and Patten have done an excellent job not least through UN Action and the Team of Experts. Yet in many conflicts, abuse is still widespread.

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We welcome the Secretary-General’s report indicating possible ways forward.

We must monitor and document violations of international law, and provide training and funding, where needed. We need to strengthen state institutions and build capacity to combat conflict-related sexual violence. Individual states have the primary responsibility to prevent and respond to sexual violence, as well as to investigate and prosecute persons implicated in such crimes. Perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence must be held to account.

We call for systematic use of gender expertise in UN operations. We welcome the dedicated specialised teams, the new policy and the soon to be launched all-of-mission handbook on the prevention of and response to conflict-related sexual violence. We echo the need for resolutions, mandates and sanctions to address conflict-related sexual violence.

Root causes of gender-based violence, such as gender-based power inequalities and gender-based discrimination must be addressed. Responsive measures, such as providing adequate service to survivors of gender-based violence are crucial, as are measures to prevent the violence from happening in the first place.

We support the call to action to end sexual violence in conflict. We rely on survivors and witnesses, civil society and human rights defenders as we strive to build a relevant and effective response without causing survivors further pain.

Reparation and justice must go hand in hand. A comprehensive approach is a prerequisite to alleviate both the immediate and long-term impact of conflict-related sexual violence. We must strengthen services for survivors of sexual violence, including by ensuring comprehensive sexual and reproductive health rights, such as access to emergency contraception and safe termination of pregnancies. We must fight impunity, remove stigma, alleviate suffering, rectify injustices, and ultimately help people to rebuild their lives, and communities to build peace.

We emphasise in this context the significant progress made by the International Criminal Court, and its Trust Fund for Victims in combating conflict-related sexual violence.

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The Nordic countries will do our part, through our embassies, multilateral efforts and many partnerships. The Nordic Network of Women Mediators calls for more gender-transformative peace and reconciliation processes. The Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations equips peacekeepers. We deploy many women and men who champion this cause.

This anniversary year demands action. 

Norway, together with Somalia, UNOCHA, UNFPA, ICRC and other partners, will host a conference in Oslo on 23-24 May. The objectives are to mobilise more political awareness and financial support to address conflict-related sexual violence in humanitarian crises, and to highlight best practices to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian situations.

Thank you.

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