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Statement by Ambassador Heusgen on the occasion of the Open Debate of the United Nations Security Council on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence - April 16, 2018

16.04.2018 - Press release

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Mr. President,

Thank you for convening this debate. The elimination and prevention of conflict-related sexual violence deserves to be at the heart of this Council’s agenda.

Voices such as that of Ms. Razia Sultana remind us of the need for urgent action by us all, and this Council has an important role to play.

We thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Pramila Patten, for her excellent and tireless work. As documented in the annual report of the Secretary-General, the despicable use of sexual violence as a tactic of war and terrorism continues in conflict regions around the globe.

Mr. President,

I will focus on some of the most crucial action points from our perspective:

1. Mandate of SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict and specific country situations

  • First and foremost, we need to support the SRSG and her Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict in carrying out her mandate. Germany has worked closely with the SRSG in assisting survivors of sexual violence from Syria and Iraq and working towards accountability.
  • One of the most outrageous developments of the last year, as documented in the SG´s report, was the widespread threat and use of sexual violence as a strategy to terrorize and collectively punish the Rohingya community in Myanmar. We urge the authorities of Myanmar to start a structured dialogue with the SRSG about assisting survivors of this massive sexual assault and ensuring accountability for these crimes. This Council should make this matter a topic of its much welcome visit to Myanmar later this month.
  • Germany welcomes that, for the first time since the establishment of her office, the SRSG was able to visit Sudan in February 2018. The “culture of silence” regarding sexual violence in Darfur remains deeply concerning. We encourage the government of Sudan to continue strengthening its cooperation with the SRSG, and to give her team and other UN entities unrestricted access to survivors.

2. Accountability

  • As the briefers have highlighted, accountability for all grave violations of human rights is not just an end in itself; it is also a tool for prevention, reconciliation and deterrence. The prevailing culture of impunity requires action in several ways:
  • We urge the Security Council to include sexual violence as a designation criterion within the UN sanctions regimes, an instrumentthat is still underused.
  • International Tribunals, above all the International Criminal Court (ICC), can and should play an important part; we reiterate our call to the Council to refer situations to the ICC.
  • In cases where prosecution is not yet possible, we must at least ensure the collection and preservation of evidence on mass atrocities. To this end, Germany supports the crucial work of the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA) in Northern Iraq. In the case of Syria, as a leading financial contributor, we support the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law (IIIM), including crimes of sexual violence.

3. Survivor-centered approach

  • Survivors must be at the center of our comprehensive efforts. Medical and psychological care, opportunities for economic participation and legal protection are some key aspects.
  • Germany has received a large number of women and children who suffered traumatic experiences in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and we are funding projects in Iraq to provide comprehensive assistance. This includes a joint program with the Iraqi government to train health professionals to deal with the specific traumata endured by survivors.
  • A survivor-centered approach needs to link accountability with psychosocial and livelihood support, and should not ignore one of these two pillars at the expense of the other.

4. Exchange of experiences and best practices

  • Comprehensive efforts to empower survivors were also a topic of the annual meeting of Focal Points on Women, Peace and Security which Germany, in cooperation with Spain, Namibia and UN Women, hosted in Berlin last week (9/10 April). This meeting, which SRSG Patten and others in this chamber attended, provided a platform for exchanging experiences and best practices on Women, Peace and Security.
  • On 24 May, Germany, Spain and Namibia will provide a debriefing about the recommendations developed during the Berlin meeting here in New York. We encourage Member States to join the network, which currently consists of roughly 80 countries and regional organizations.
  • We also support the regional exchange of experiences through the African Women Leaders network under the leadership of the African Union and look forward to its second meeting at the end of April in Addis Ababa.

Mr. President,

Let me conclude by reassuring you of Germany’s continued commitment to the elimination and prevention of conflict-related violence. The implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda will remain one of our top priorities.

Thank you, Mr. President.



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