Mr. President, I thank Albania for organizing this important Security Council meeting. I also thank the briefers, SRSG Patten, Natalia Karbowska and Sherrie Rollins Westin for their important contributions.
We have learned from the history of war and conflicts around the world that conflict-related sexual violence has been used as a tactical or strategic means of weakening, if not destroying, the adversary by targeting the civilian population. A multitude of reports indicates that the unjustified, unprovoked war of aggression of the Russian Federation against its neighbour Ukraine is unfortunately no exception.
We have heard with shock and horror many accounts about brutal cases of conflict-related sexual violence all over Ukraine, predominantly against women and girls, but also against men and boys. And we know that amidst the chaos of war, with limited support on the ground and almost no access to services and while millions are fleeing, as the SRSG reported it today, the risks of sexual and gender-based violence being largely unaccounted for are high. This is a deplorable situation, and this must change.
I would like to address five points:
First, as reporting and monitoring are key to hold the perpetrators accountable, we support SRSG Patten’s demand to reinforce the staff of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission and the Prosecutor General in Ukraine with CRSV-specialized personnel. With the escalation of Russia’s aggression in Eastern Ukraine, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine is already reaching its limits.
Second, we also commend the framework of cooperation that SRSG Patten and the Ukrainian government signed on her recent visit to Ukraine. It is a vital condition for the SRSG’s office and her team of experts to commence their work on site. We see this as a matter of urgency since the situation in Ukraine is deteriorating in the course of Russia’s ongoing war. Health care, especially sexual and reproductive health, mental health services and psychological counselling are insufficient considering the scale of the crisis with numerous internally displaced people. Rapid and effective action is necessary. This is why we will continue our funding for the office of the SRSG in 2022.
My third point: 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 and rights, rehabilitation, reparations and reintegration.
Fourth, women often suffer most from the consequences of war. Women are the ones fleeing the country with children and elderly. They are the ones who are the main targets of conflict-related sexual violence, but also of trafficking in persons when trying to escape from the violence. Germany will continue its engagement to fight trafficking in persons, including by promoting the resolution on this topic in the Human Rights Council. To protect the Ukrainian women coming to Germany, we have installed several protection mechanisms, like websites that inform in Ukrainian, active information in the trains that the refugees use, and police presence at the train stations.
And fifth, Germany reiterates its pledge to fight conflict-related sexual violence in all contexts. In the case of Ukraine, it means that while we continue our efforts to stop this illegal and unjustified war, we will work equally hard to mitigate the immediate effects of the war on the Ukrainian people. Human security, responding to the humanitarian crisis, addressing the profoundly gendered implications of wars and conflicts: These are not secondary considerations, they are central to our foreign policy decisions. Our feminist foreign policy implies, among other things, to take into account the repercussions of war and conflict on all segments of the population, especially on those individuals who are particularly vulnerable or marginalized.
Finally, let me stress that our concerns are deliberately not limited to the tragic situation in Ukraine. In closing, let me thus highlight a few examples of our broader support to combatting sexual and gender-based violence:
In 2021 alone, German humanitarian assistance funded 26 projects with vital components addressing sexual and gender-based violence, totalling an amount of more than 80 million US Dollars. This made Germany the largest donor of the Oslo Pledging Conference.
Germany also continues to be the largest donor for ICRC’s Special Appeal on Sexual Violence.
Earlier this year, German humanitarian assistance launched a new and innovative project with UN Women to strengthen measures against sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian response plans.
Germany will continue to remain focussed on this highly important issue.
On January 20, 2022 the General Assembly of the UN in New York adopted by consenus a new resolution which calls an States and non-state actors to take active measures against Holocaust denial.