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Statement by Ambassador Antje Leendertse at the webinar “Strengthening the United Nations’ victim-centred response to sexual exploitation and abuse through partnerships with national human rights institutions – challenges and opportunities”, 28 October

28.10.2021 - Speech

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, let me express my thanks to the organizers of this important side event, as well as to the other co-sponsors.

Sexual exploitation and abuse are intolerable crimes. Zero tolerance is the principle that we all must follow and engage for. Zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse is of particular importance when it comes to the context of aid delivery and peace operations as well as to the work of the United Nations in general.

Germany is committed to combatting and preventing all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse.

When peacekeepers exploit the local populations they have been deployed to protect, they undermine the basic UN principles to protect human rights, peace and security. They fundamentally betray the trust vested in them by the local communities and the UN system alike.

Re-building this trust is paramount. It can only succeed though a zero-tolerance policy, and – in cases such crimes have occurred – through a survivor-centered approach that focuses on the human rights of survivors which must be protected and upheld.

Security Council Resolution 2467, presented by Germany, demands that the provision of support and services to survivors of conflict-related sexual violence must be non-discriminatory and specific, and respect the rights and prioritize needs of survivors. This must include groups that are particularly vulnerable or may be specifically targeted, for example in the context of their health, education, and participation. The same must hold true for survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Germany strongly welcomes the efforts by the UN in this regard, including through the work of the Victims’ Rights Advocate and her office.

Germany also welcomes the partnership of OVRA with GANHRI and individual national human rights institutions. NHRIs are unique and essential actors in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Germany is a longstanding supporter of a strong role for NHRIs throughout the human rights and UN system.

We are the facilitator for the GA resolution on NHRIs, which is currently being negotiated as part of this year’s Third Committee session. We are confident that this year’s resolution will not only secure and consolidate the achievements made in the 2019 NHRI resolution. In addition, this year’s resolution will:

Applaud the vital contribution of NHRIs in overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic;

Compliment NHRIs for their important contribution towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda;

Strengthen the role of NHRIs in the prevention and investigation of, and response to, cases of reprisal and intimidation.

Above all, we managed to improve access of NHRIs to the UN system, especially ECOSOC.

We expect the resolution to be adopted by the General Assembly by consensus in November.

Increasing cooperation with NHRIs and joining efforts in the fight against sexual exploitation and abuse is a promising approach that can enrich the work on all sides. And most of all, it will benefit those in need of support. This applies particularly with a view to survivor’s access to legal aid and to reporting and complaint mechanisms, but also with regard to preventive measures such as trainings and advocacy work.

Zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse – this is what we continue to engage for.

I thank the organizers once again for organizing this important event.

Thank you.

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