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Statement to the UN Security Council Open Debate on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

Thematic issues

  • Accountability
  • Human Rights
  • Impunity
  • Justice
  • Peace and Security
  • Peacekeeping
  • Rule of Law
  • Sanctions
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Timor-Leste
  • Women

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL

OPEN DEBATE ON CONFLICT-RELATED SEXUAL VIOLENCE

Statement by H.E. Ms Philippa King, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

In the two and a half years since this Council committed to taking more effective action to prevent and address sexual violence in conflict, we have witnessed an impressive number of UN actions designed to turn rhetoric into action. The landmark adoption of resolution 1960 twelve months ago demonstrated unequivocally this Council's willingness to take concrete measures to end the scourge of sexual violence in conflict. It is critical that this Council, and member states, implement resolution 1960 fully. Sexual violence in conflict is not only an egregious abuse of human rights, but a serious impediment to durable peace and security and the rebuilding of communities affected by conflict.

We would like to thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report, which has taken forward our understanding of the international picture on this issue. We welcome the direction it provides.

Mr President

Australia strongly supports the work of the SRSG, particularly the increasing use of field visits and direct engagement with parties to conflict. We encourage the Council to receive regular briefings from the SRSG when she considers issues related to sexual violence to be relevant to its deliberations. This would help it to undertake its preventive role in situations of concern regarding sexual violence in armed conflict.

We know that conflict situations are usually characterised by the breakdown of law and order, and the impunity that can prevail in such situations – where effective security and justice sectors are absent – has a particularly devastating impact on the victims of sexual violence. Accountability for crimes of sexual violence is critical to changing behaviours. Increased engagement by the Council with the parties listed in the Secretary-General's report is an important element in developing such cultures of accountability, as is the consideration by sanctions committees of targeted and graduated measures against persistent perpetrators of violence.

We encourage the Council to remain seized of the need to deploy Women Protection Advisers to peacekeeping and special political missions, given their potential contribution to the UN's monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements on sexual violence. The inclusion of relevant information in country-specific reports and in mission mandates must also be considered. We also encourage the inclusion of more women as uniformed personnel in peacekeeping operations, and welcome India's statement today that it is willing to increase its own contribution in this regard.

We also welcome the recent deployments of the Team of Experts on the rule of law and sexual violence in conflict. South Sudan's use of this expertise to guide planning of its justice system should be particularly welcomed. Integrating the voices of women into design will better ensure gender-responsive justice systems.

Mr President

In the last two and a half years we have witnessed a renewed dedication by the UN, as well as troop and police contributing countries, to develop and implement tools to prevent and address sexual violence, consistent with their mandate to protect civilians. The roll-out through scenario-based training for peacekeepers of the UN toolkit to address conflict-related sexual violence is an important development. Australia was pleased to fund this. We encourage troop and police contributing countries to integrate this tool into pre-deployment training.

Security sector reform must address conflict-related sexual violence. The development of human rights training tools for security officials will help extend these efforts to detention and interrogation facilities, which are often beyond the reach of peacekeeping missions. Australia is also pleased to be working with DPA and UN Women to support women's engagement in decision-making on security sector reform, as involving a community's women is essential to shaping sustainable outcomes.

Separately, we have supported the development of a victim management program for Pacific police, and developed police manuals on gender-based violence in Timor-Leste. The Australian Federal Police is also formulating a Police Development Strategy and toolkit that includes a focus on gender and conflict-related issues, which will assist our police who are working with partners overseas to address conflict-related sexual violence.

Mr President

Australia continues to build on its work to implement Resolution 1325. We are consulting closely with civil society to develop the first Australian National Action Plan on Women, which includes work to protect the human rights of women and girls affected by conflict, particularly in relation to sexual violence. In 2011 we appointed a Global Ambassador for Women and Girls, and the protection of women and girls in conflict zones is a core component of the Ambassador's mandate.

We look forward to the next Secretary-General's report outlining recommendations for advocacy and action to be made by the UN Joint Consultation Forum. The momentum of the last two and a half years must be harnessed for further action and results.

Thank you.

Last Updated: 5 June 2015
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