Statement by Ambassador Leendertse in the UN Security Council, Open Debate on “Accountability as Prevention: Ending Cycles of Sexual Violence in Conflict”, 13 April 2022

13.04.2022 - Speech

The increase in conflict-related sexual violence illustrated by the Secretary-General’s most recent report is alarming. We are appalled by reports of sexual and gender-based violence against women and children in Ukraine committed by the Russian armed Forces and mercenaries. The pictures and accounts from Bucha are shocking; egregious crimes have been committed. Germany stands in solidarity with all Ukrainians, including women and girls, in all their diversity, affected by Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine.

In Afghanistan, women and young girls are subjected to forced marriages and sexual and gender-based-violence on a daily basis, while impunity prevents survivors from their access to justice and to support services, since specialized courts on violence against women were closed.

In Myanmar, widespread and systematic violence has emerged since the military takeover – with excessive force, including sexual and gender-based violence, against protesters, journalists, activists, women peace builders and women in leadership. The numerous displaced women and girls from Syria face heightened risks of sexual and gender-based violence as well as forced and early marriage. The Group of eminent experts in Geneva has documented in its reports atrocious accounts of cases of sexual violence against Yemeni women, children and men and this important documentation that is now no longer being carried out, because the GEE mandate was not renewed last year. We must hold all the perpetrators of these crimes and others accountable.

Committed to advancing accountability in general, Germany has taken over as co-chair of the State and Donor Working Group of the Call to Action to End Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies. At the national level, a Higher Regional Court in Koblenz convicted a former official of the Syrian General Intelligence Service for crimes against humanity, including acts of sexual violence, committed in 2011 and 2012.

Last week, the German Foreign Minister announced to dedicate 1 million Euros in additional funding to the International Criminal Court for the investigation of Russian war crimes in Ukraine. We must protect and enable organisations defending international humanitarian law and human rights law and ensuring accountability for violations thereof.

A survivor-centred approach is essential to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence. Three years after the adoption of Security Council resolution 2467 put forward by Germany, we are concerned about its slow implementation. The international community must strengthen survivors’ rights and improve their access to justice, sexual and reproductive health services, rehabilitation, reparations and reintegration.

In 2021, German humanitarian assistance funded 26 projects with vital gender-based violence components, totalling an amount of more than 80 million US Dollars. This made Germany the largest donor of the Oslo Pledging Conference. Germany is also the largest donor for ICRC’s Special Appeal on sexual and gender-based violence.

This year, German humanitarian assistance has launched a new project with UN Women to strengthen sexual and gender-based violence measures in humanitarian response plans.

There cannot be any effective measures against conflict-related sexual violence without real gender equality, the protection and promotion of human rights, and women’s and girls’ full, equal and meaningful participation and leadership at all levels of decision-making. Germany will pursue its strong commitment to all of these aspects, including in the framework of its feminist foreign policy, and hopes to be able to count on the support of many other partners here in this important endeavour.

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