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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

25.04.2014

Madam President,

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 of war.

 

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.

 

Estonia and 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.

 

Madam President,

 

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.

 

 

Madam President,

 

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.

 

Thank you!

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