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Eesti alalise esinda ÜRO juures Margus Kolga sõnavõtt Julgeolekunõugu avatud debatil naised, rahu ja julgeoleku teemal, fookusega seksuaalvägivallale konfliktides (inglise keeles)

24.06.2013

Mr President,

I would like to join the others by thanking you for organizing this open debate.

Estonia fully aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.

The Security Council, through its resolutions 1820, 1888, 1960 and 1325, has developed a robust framework to prevent and address sexual violence in armed conflict. However, gender crimes remain an enduring part of most armed conflicts. The leading role the United Kingdom is playing in the international efforts to combat sexual violence is therefore much needed and appreciated. I would also like to thank Ms Zainab Bangura, the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, for her statement and her passionate commitment and dedication to eradicate sexual and gender-based crimes.

 

Special Representative Bangura has repeatedly underlined that there is no way to end sexual violence unless one ends impunity. Two weeks ago in the Human Rights Council in Geneva the Special Rapporteur on violence against women Ms. Manjoo underlined that states need to be held accountable not only for investigating all acts of violence against women but also for failing to prevent such violence. Over the past years, sexual violence and the threat of sexual violence continued to be employed as a weapon of war. Armed conflicts have made evident the need to protect civilians, especially the most vulnerable groups of women and children.  Estonia calls for states to take further political steps to fulfill the promise of the Security Council resolutions 1820, 1888 and 1960 to end sexual violence as a tactic of war and calls everyone to adhere to the international humanitarian law that prohibits rape and other forms of sexual violence.

 

As to the UN, the next important step would be the further implementation of monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements on conflict-related sexual violence. We would also urge the further deployment of women protection advisors to the Security Council mandated missions.

Despite the increasing international focus on sexual violence in conflict, perpetrators of sexual violence are rarely held accountable. The vigorous investigation and prosecution of perpetrators are, however, necessary to deter and/or halt such violence.

 

We share the assessment of SRSG Ms Bangura, that fostering national ownership, leadership and responsibility in addressing sexual violence are some of the most important aspects in the fight against sexual violence. In similar vein, in his report from March 2013 on sexual violence in conflict the Secretary-General notes that national courts remain the principal venue for holding individuals accountable for crimes of sexual violence and that national authorities should be supported in this regard. This is crucial, as the lack of adequate national capacity and expertise to investigate and prosecute acts of sexual violence remains one of the main impediments to ensuring accountability for gender crimes. To date, sexual violence in armed conflict has been prosecuted primarily at the international level through hybrid courts and international tribunals. These tribunals represent indeed an important complement to national efforts. 

 

The international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR), developed groundbreaking international jurisprudence prohibiting rape and sexual violence during war. Investigating and prosecuting gender crimes have also been an integral part of the investigative and prosecutorial strategy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC), built upon the recognition of sexual violence as a serious international crime by the ad hoc tribunals, expanded the scope of sexual violence-based crimes in international law. The Rome Statute specifies a greater number of sexual violence crimes than the Statute of the ad hoc tribunals and acknowledges that these crimes can be committed against men and women. It is important that the Rome Statute’s gender sensitivity is translated into national prosecutions to make sure that national proceedings take into account the gender dimension of atrocity crimes to the same extent as the Rome Statute does.

The ICC has proven itself to be sensitive to gender crimes also in practice. The Prosecutor gives priority to sexual and gender-based crimes from the very stage of preliminary examinations. Charges for gender-based crimes have so far been brought in cases arising from six of the eight situations.

 

Estonia joins the Secretary-General in his call on the Security Council to employ all means at its disposal to address sexual violence in conflict, including through referrals to the ICC.

The ICC is, however, not only about punishing perpetrators but also about empowering victims of atrocity crimes. The Court is committed to ensuring victims a participatory role in the Court’s proceedings and the Rome Statute contains a relatively broad reparations provision.  The Trust Fund for Victims established under the Rome Statute has been doing important work in countries where the court is conducting investigations to alleviate the suffering of victims. Among other activities, it is providing assistance to the victims of rape and to children born as a result of rapes. In replenishing the Fund, Estonia has paid special attention to the needs of victims of sexual violence who are very often stigmatized by their own communities. The Trust Fund is dependent on voluntary donations in order to effectively fulfill its mandate and Estonia welcomes voluntary donations to the Fund.

 

Equally important as brining perpetrators to justice is addressing the root causes of sexual violence. The subordination of women in peacetime puts them at increased risk for sexual violence in times of war. In many countries rape goes unreported because women are not equal before the law or lack access to justice or because of the stigma attached to victims of sexual violence. When it is reported, prosecutions are rarely successful.

 

Estonia welcomes the adoption of the resolution by the Council today which clearly expresses the Council’s commitment to fight impunity for sexual violence crimes by bringing perpetrators to justice recognizes the ICC’s contribution in this regard.

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