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Statement of H.E. Mr. Margus Kolga, Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security



Madam President, Excellencies, Distinguished Participants, ladies and gentlemen,

At the outset let me thank the Secretary-General, the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Ms. Zainab Bangura and Ms. Saran Keita Diakite from the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security for their statements.

Estonia aligns itself with the statements on behalf of the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security.


Madam President,

Estonia is dedicated to protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms both nationally and internationally. As a member of the Human Rights Council, Estonia’s particular focus is on the rights of women and children; gender perspective in conflict settlement and fight against impunity.


Estonia is proud for having co-sponsored the Security Council resolution 1820 (2008) on Women Peace and Security where for the first time in a Security Council resolution the sexual violence was recognized as a tactic of war and where it is noted that rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide. We welcome the numerous steps taken in this field in the frames of the United Nations and commend among others the work of UN Women and the Secretary-General`s Special Representative on sexual violence in conflict, Ms Zainab Hawa Bangura.


Concerning the latest developments in the UN, we welcome the adoption of the agreed conclusions of the last session of the Commission on the Status of Women, in which the Commission urges States to strongly condemn violence against women and girls committed in armed conflict and post-conflict situations and calls for effective measures of accountability and redress as well as effective remedies. Estonia is also very satisfied that the Arms Trade Treaty recently adopted by the General Assembly includes strong human rights and international humanitarian law criteria. In assessing the export of conventional arms, each country has to take into account the risk of those arms being used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against women and children. We believe that an effective implementation of this Treaty will make difference in the world and we invite states to apply relevant articles provisionally pending the entry into force of this Treaty.


We appreciate the Secretary-Generals report, on which today`s discussion is based. The report gives shivering overview of how widespread the terrible scourge of sexual violence still is and highlights pointedly the emerging concerns such as the plight of children born out of rape, the practice of forced marriages by armed groups, sexual violence against men and boys, displacement of civilian populations and inadequacy of disarmament. We note with serious concern that, as reported, sexual violence has been used to force internal and across the borders displacements in many places of the world and that women and children are also targeted both inside and outside refugee and internally displaced persons (IDP) camps and settlements.


Madam President,

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. It is essential that the local communities consider sexual violence as a crime. Regrettably, as noted in the SG`s report, often, as a consequence of being raped in conflict, there are reports of coerced marriages of survivors to either the perpetrator or family members. It is certain, as noted in the report, that compelling rape survivors to marry the perpetrators re-victimizes them. That results in impunity for perpetrators, and sends the message that sexual violence is socially acceptable.


There is a wide range of tools available for preventing sexual violence crimes, as well as for holding the perpetrators accountable. The use of targeted sanctions by the Security Council focusing on specific individuals or entities suspected of bearing the greatest responsibility for sexual violence crimes is an important aspect of deterrence. We welcome that the Council has expanded the designation criteria to explicitly address sexual and gender based violence and look forward to consistent application of this tool. Estonia welcomes if all the Security Council sanctions committees will consider focusing also on sexual violence crimes. It might be necessary in this context to harmonize designation criteria for listed individuals and entities by including any relevant charges from the international justice mechanisms, importantly also from the International Criminal Court.


The International Criminal Court (ICC) itself has a unique role in setting a new tone in the fight against impunity for sexual and gender-based violence. The Rome Statute of the ICC prohibits an unprecedented number of gender crimes, including rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, and other forms of sexual violence as war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide.


The Security Council has an important role with regard to the ICC, especially in the field of state cooperation with the Court. We strongly support the Council’s calls on state cooperation and its commitment to an effective follow up to its decisions in this regard. The Security Council resolution 2085 (2012) on Mali and resolution 2098 (2013) on DRC calling for AFISMA and authorizing MONUSCO to support the ICC’s efforts are important examples of its commitment. We hope that the Security Council would continue to find ways and means to further support international criminal justice within its mandate.


Madam President,

Allow me to note, that Estonia confirms its commitment to ending impunity and fighting sexual violence also through its financial contributions in this field. In 2013 Estonia has contributed already financially to a UNICEF project in Central African Republic for prevention and response to gender based violence (GBV). In 2013, Estonia also contributes financially to the activities of the Office of the Secretary-Generals Special Representative on sexual violence in conflict and to the ICC Trust Fund for Victims.


In our view the next important step for the UN 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.


We have to support the NGO-s working in the field and protect the women human rights defenders. It must also be noted that the overall goal of women`s empowerment and participation in society is inextricably linked with fight against gender based violence.


I would also take the opportunity to commend the Council work on Women Peace and Security, including sexual violence in conflict and confirm my country`s strong support to even more systematic and comprehensive approach to that important issue.


Finally, I would like to quote what Ms. Bangura said lately: “I’m sure there will come a time where the only place we can read about sexual violence in conflict is in the text books“, Estonia will be there to support this aim.




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