Statement by H. E. Mr. Margus Kolga on behalf of the Republic of Estonia and the Republic of Latvia at the Open Debate in the Security Council on Sexual Violence in Conflict
I have the honour to deliver this
statement on behalf of Estonia and Latvia. Our countries would like to join others by thanking you for
organizing this open debate. We fully align ourselves with the statement
delivered by the European Union.
We would also
like to thank the Secretary General, Ms Zainab Bangura, Special Representative
of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Ms. Rhoda Disaka on
behalf of civil society for their statements.
We would also
like to thank Secretary General for the comprehensive report, on which today`s
discussion is based.
We agree with
the Secretary General that important advances have been made in this field
lately and it is crucial that we now focus on converting these political
commitments into concrete actions- prevention and services on the ground.
Indeed, the Security Council, through its resolutions 1325,
1820, 1888, 1960 and 2106
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 and rape is continuously used as a method
We are concerned
about the alarming facts reflected in the report that despite all the legal
framework we have been able to agree on, the violations are continuing or are
even on the rise: among others, we have been informed about an increase in
reported incidents of sexual violence in Afghanistan, clear indications that conflict-related sexual violence has been a main
feature of attacks in the Central African Republic and a consistent
characteristic of the crisis in South-Sudan.
Latvia believe that accountability for sexual violence crimes is crucial for
deterring and ultimately preventing their commission, and for bringing justice
to victims. To date, sexual and gender based violence as a war crime or crime
against humanity has been prosecuted primarily at the international level. As the
only permanent international criminal court, the International Criminal Court
(ICC) has therefore an important role to play where states lack the capacity or
political will to hold perpetrators to account. The Council itself has also
acknowledged on numerous occasions that the fight against impunity for sexual
violence crimes has been strengthened through the work of the ICC.
However, the ICC will never be able to ensure
accountability on its own; to reverse the near complete impunity that
perpetrators of sexual violence currently enjoy, it is important that states
build the capacity to ensure accountability. States that lack the
necessary national legislation to investigate and prosecute perpetrators should
therefore incorporate the ICC’s provisions into their own legal system. We
would emphasize here, that ICC`s Statute has some important innovative
provisions – the scope of crimes of sexual violence in international law
has been expanded acknowledging that sexual violence can be committed against
both men and women. It also provides safeguards to ensure that victims of
sexual violence can testify without being put on trial themselves and with
minimal retraumatization. By serving as a model for the international
community, the ICC’s accomplishments can therefore be seen as part of a
broad-based effort to adequately address sexual violence at both the
international and domestic levels. Given its pivotal role, the Court
should enjoy the support and cooperation of all states, this Council and
international and regional organizations. In order to enhance
accountability the Council could adopt targeted measures against those
responsible for conflict-related sexual violence and include individuals sought
by the ICC on the sanctions list.
The SG report describes the increased incidents of
forced marriage, campaigns of forced pregnancy and the fact that lives are
being put into risk through unsafe abortions. I call on everyone to respect
what we have agreed concerning the full enjoyment of human rights by all women
and girls. In addition, I would especially like to stress the importance of
quality sexual and reproductive health services for the survivors.
It is utmost important that peacekeepers continue to be trained to
enhance their capacity to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual
violence; that Women Protection Advisors are deployed within peacekeeping and
special political missions and that the ceasefire or peace agreements
explicitly reflect sexual violence considerations.
We would like to commend the United Nations Action against Sexual
Violence in Conflict and the efforts of the UN system to establish the
monitoring and reporting arrangements on conflict related sexual violence as
mandated by Security Council resolution 1960.
We would also like to commend the work of the Team of Experts on the
Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict for assisting governments to build
national capacity and expertise in addressing impunity for these crimes.
In conclusion, let me once more stress the evident fact that regrettably
does not seem to be so evident for everyone in the world yet: using sexual
violence as a method of war must stop: it is an inhuman practice that should
belong to the history books, as SRSG Ms Bangura has rightly pointed out, not in
the everyday reality.