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I would like to thank all co-hosts [Germany, Belgium, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, France, Kuwait, Peru, Poland, South Africa and the United Kingdom] for convening this meeting today on an important aspect of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. I extend my gratitude to the panellists for their highly informative presentations.
Sexual and gender-based violence is a crime. The use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and the wider effects of conflict-related sexual violence echo across communities and generations through trauma, stigma, poverty, poor health and unwanted pregnancies. It is the responsibility of all states to support and assist survivors and to hold perpetrators to account. It is unacceptable that perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence, both from states and non-state armed groups, should be allowed to continue to live in impunity. Full accountability for these crimes is one important factor in bringing justice to victims and the European Union supports zero tolerance on all accounts.
The fight against impunity for conflict-related sexual violence and the role of accountability as an effective prevention tool are crucial to the Women, Peace and Security agenda. The victims, including survivors and children born out of rape, have the right to access comprehensive healthcare and medical services.
The European Union supports all efforts to end impunity including gender-sensitive transitional justice processes and building capacity of law enforcement and justice system practitioners to handle cases in a gender-sensitive way. We welcome and support in this regard the important contribution by civil society organizations, including women’s groups and grassroots activists, who help build peace, challenge violent gender norms and prevent sexual and gender-based violence.
The EU strongly supports the International Criminal Court (ICC), especially in the domain of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, in order to foster accountability and combat impunity. In this respect, we welcome the growing attention the ICC is giving to sexual and gender-based crimes, in particular within the framework of its 2014 Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes. We appreciate the continued effective collaboration and coordination between all UN Security Council instruments for women, peace and security and conflict-related sexual violence and we support the mandate of the UNSG Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and of the recently established investigative UN Mission to Iraq, UNITAD. All of these complementary and mutually reinforcing tools are enablers for effective prevention, accountability and justice for victims.
Together with the UN, the EU is promoting worldwide the Spotlight Initiative, the largest-ever assistance program to eliminate all forms of violence against women in the world. We aim to apply a gender perspective and include more women in all decision-making processes, especially in security and justice systems, in order to advance the prevention, protection and prosecution of conflict-related sexual violence.
We welcome the proposals put forward in the context of this meeting, including the importance of a holistic approach to address conflict-related sexual violence as part of the Women, Peace and Security agenda, to encompass not only prevention and protection from conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, but also to emphasize the importance of equitable and meaningful participation by women in the achievement of peace and security.