Let me begin by congratulating you and the other members of the Bureau on your election. I assure you of the full cooperation and support of my delegation.
At the UN World Summit last year our leaders reafirmed the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Declaration, the Platform of Action and the outcome document of the twenty-third Special Session.
Although some progress has been made towards gender equality since Beijing, a large gap still remains between existing commitments and implementation. We must therefore continue our efforts for further fulfillment of these commitments and translate them into action.
We welcome the agreed conclusions adopted at the fiftieth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) on the two themes and we look forward to contributing actively to its work at its next session devoted to the Girl Child.
We warmly welcome the comphrehensive report of the Secretary-General, contained in document A/61/122, on all forms of Violence against Women, launched yesterday. The report confirms that violence against women is a widespread and serious problem, affecting countless women. The report shows that the level of violence is not only serious, it is pervasive and persistent. It consolidates the notion that violence against women is both a human rights violation in international law and that it should be seen as a crime in national law.
We agree with the report in recognizing state responsibility for the prevention of violence against women and the need to establish effective accountability/justice mechanisms for the punishment of such violence. We agree with the Secretary General that as long as violence against women continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace.
We share the report´s emphasis on the importance of full and effective implementation of international standards on violence against women. The recommendations of the report constitute a clear strategy for Member States and the UN system to make measurable progress in preventing and eliminiating violence against women.
Iceland is of the opinion that the level of violence against women deserves to be seen as a human rights crisis. In armed conflicts around the globe, women are in many instances terrorised with rape, sexual and other physical violence, and harassment. These tactics are tools of war designed to hurt and punish women, wrench communities apart, and force women and girls to flee their homes. The use of rape as an organized and systematic weapon of war is a phenomenon that the international community must address with greater vigor.
Unfortunately, thousands of women and children become victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation and prostitution. The fight against human trafficking is a burning issue which affects all states, either as places of origin, transit or destination, with women and girls being the most frequent victims.
It is clear that much needs to be done to combat this evil. Iceland has emphasised the role of regional institutions in combating trafficking in human beings and has contributed actively to the anti-trafficking work of the OSCE.
Iceland attaches much importance to the work of UNIFEM. We believe that UNIFEM must be given more weight within the UN. Iceland has increased its support to the work of UNIFEM more than tenfold over the last two years, and we will increase our support even further.
An important instrument to ensure the advancement of women is Security Council resolution 1325. Women in war and women who have survived war must enjoy protection and justice and women must be full agents in the shaping and rebuilding of their communities in the aftermath of war. Iceland continues to strongly support the implementation of resolution 1325.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would like to underline our committment to the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol, both of which we have ratified. We urge all States that have not yet done so, to ratify the Convention and the Protocol as soon as possible.
Thank you for your attention.