I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. The Candidate Countries Turkey, Montenegro[*], Serbia[*] and Albania[*], the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Georgia align themselves with this statement.
We reiterate our support for the Latvian ATT Presidency and would again like to thank you for choosing gender and gender-based violence as a focus theme in this context. We hope that the Fifth Conference of States Parties will be in a position to positively consider the Presidency paper on gender and gender-based violence.
The promotion of gender equality, awareness of gender issues, empowerment of women and prevention of sexual and gender based violence is an important cross-cutting priority for the European Union. The EU will continue to promote the full implementation of Resolution 1325 and all other relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council aimed at advancing the women, peace and security agenda.
Despite the tremendous amount of resources and time invested in the prevention of gender-based violence nationally, regionally and globally, women and girls continue to suffer from serious and often targeted abuses in conflicts across the globe. Serious acts of gender-based violence may not be limited to conflict zones; women and girls face these issues in all aspects of both public and private life.
The EU is engaged in a wide range of broader activities to address gender-based violence, outside the ATT context.
· As part of the new EU Strategic Approach to Women, Peace and Security, the EU will, inter alia, address conflict-related sexual violence as part of a continuum of gender-based violence which is closely intertwined with persistent inequalities and broader attacks on gender equality and women’s human rights, including, but not limited to, digital and cyber violence.
· The EU also aims to promote humanitarian gender- and gender-based violence standards and guidelines, including for instance the Inter-agency standing committee (IASC) gender-based violence guidelines and the IASC Gender Handbook, as well as the work of the Call to action on protection from gender-based violence in emergencies.
· The EU supports all efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls through programmes designed to address women’s empowerment, access to legal rights and legal literacy and to end impunity including gender-sensitive transitional justice processes and building the capacity of law enforcement and justice system practitioners to handle cases in a gender-sensitive way.
· Together with the UN, the EU is promoting worldwide the Spotlight Initiative, the largest-ever assistance programme to eliminate all forms of violence against women in the world.
· Most recently, in December 2018, a new EU Council Decision, worth EUR 4.4 million, was adopted in support of gender mainstreamed policies, programmes and actions in the fight against small arms trafficking and misuse, in line with the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
We are convinced that awareness-raising is key to spreading the clear message of zero tolerance of all forms of violence against women and girls. We must enhance collaboration between governments, traditional and religious leaders, civil society and communities if we are to ensure that our collective efforts have maximum impact.
The question for the ATT is how we contribute to the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, through practical measures that relate to the Treaty's focus on the regulation of the trade in conventional arms. The ATT was the first arms-regulation treaty to recognise the link between conventional arms transfers and gender-based violence, and under Article 7.4 States Parties have committed to specific legal obligations.
'Gender-based violence risk assessment criteria'
Effective national implementation of the ATT will contribute to eliminating violence against women and girls, in line with SDG target 5.2. We recall that Article 7.4 of the ATT explicitly requires that the exporting State Party, in its assessment before authorising the export of conventional arms, shall take into account the risk of the conventional arms covered under Article 2(1) or of the items covered under Article 3 or Article 4 being used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against women and children. It is important that all States Parties conduct such risk assessments.
In order to fully and effectively implement the ATT, we can continue to develop best practice guidance for States on gender-based violence and arms transfers, building on existing data and knowledge on these issues. We urge States Parties to make use of existing guidance and to identify gaps in guidance and capacity, where they are present. The aim should be that all States Parties are equipped with the necessary best practice information and tools to implement the existing robust Treaty provisions and thereby reduce arms-related gender-based violence.
'Understanding the gendered impact of armed violence in the context of ATT'
Further efforts are also needed to better understand the gendered impact of armed violence in the context of the ATT. We recall the objectives and purposes of the ATT and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We would like to encourage all States Parties and other UN Member States to improve data collection for relevant SDG indicators to be able to measure progress towards achieving SDGs by 2030, including target 5.2 on eliminating violence against women and girls. Collection of gender-disaggregated data is also part of the outcome of the Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action on illicit small arms and light weapons which concerns all UN Member States.
'Representation and participation'
We believe that the active and equal participation and leadership of women in decision-making and action is crucial in achieving peace, security and sustainable development. Work towards implementation of the ATT would also benefit from gender diversity and equal participation and therefore we fully support your efforts to track progress towards better gender balance. States Parties should not only promote gender equality and combat gender-based violence, but also empower women and girls to take an active, meaningful and equal role in all processes affecting peace and security.
Thank you, Mr. President
[*] Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.