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Statement by H.E. Mr. Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict as Tactic of War and Terrorism, 15 May, 2017

15.05.2017

Statement by H.E. Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on

Sexual Violence in Conflict as Tactic of War and Terrorism

New York, 15 May 2017

 

Mr President,

Thank you for convening today’s meeting on a very important subject that impacts the lives of too many people, in particular women, and children in conflicts that are already horrendous in so many ways. Estonia aligns itself with the statements delivered by the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace, and Security.

 

Mr President,

This is not just another debate. This is not just another issue on our agenda. The urgency to tackle the conflict related sexual violence cannot be emphasised enough. It is the responsibility of all States to combat impunity and enforce accountability by prosecuting those responsible for such dreadful crimes against civilians. There must be no room for impunity for sexual and gender based crimes. However, today only limited numbers of perpetrators of sexual violence have been brought to justice. Lack of accountability for these crimes undermines international peace and security and hampers post-conflict peacebuilding. Thus, we welcome the recommendation of the Secretary-General in his latest report, that the Security Council should influence State and non-State actors in conflict zones to comply with international law, including by referring matters to the International Criminal Court.  

Furthermore, it is important to take full advantage of existing tools and mechanisms and to continue to include sexual violence as a part of the designation criteria for sanctions. In addition, we urge the countries experiencing conflict related sexual violence to reach out and learn from the cases where the issue has been tackled successfully (such as Cote D’Ivoire). These examples show that with strong will and the UN and international support good results can be achieved in a timely manner.

However, in order to bring the perpetrators to justice it is crucial that the victims of conflict-related sexual violence will report such cases and are not held back by fear, shame and stigma. This once more emphasises the importance of awareness raising, changing social norms and mindset. Victims of sexual violence must be assisted with legal, medical and other relevant services to avoid their expulsion from the communities and prevent the double-victimization. 

Every country can make a difference in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence. Estonia has taken steps in both national and international level. On the global level, we have supported the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and made regular contributions to the ICC Trust Fund for Victims. Likewise, Estonia has supported the fight against conflict related sexual violence through the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict. On the national level, Estonia has made important progress with regard to the fight against violence against women and sexual abuse of children. For example, victims of human trafficking, unaccompanied underage foreigners and sexually abused minors have the right to receive counselling services and psychological help.   Furthermore, Estonia considers it important to address sexual violence in conflict as a part of the broader women, peace and security agenda, so we have incorporated the subject of human trafficking and gender-based violence into all our pre-mission trainings. 

 

Mr President,

Regardless of our common efforts and achievements much work remains to be done in the fight against conflict related sexual violence. Estonia hopes the topic remains high on our agenda and calls for comprehensive cooperation of all Member States to combat the crimes against humanity.

 

Thank you.  

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