Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement – United Nations Security Council: High-Level Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict

New York, 23/04/2019 - 18:23, UNIQUE ID: 190423_8
Statements on behalf of the EU

23 April 2019, New York - Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by H.E. Ms. Mara Marinaki, European External Action Service Principal Advisor on Gender and on Women Peace and Security/UNSC Resolution 1325, at the UN Security Council High-Level Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict

23 April 2019, New York - EEAS Gender Advisor Mara Marinaki addresses the UN Security


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Mr Chair, Excellences, Distinguished Participants, ladies and gentlemen,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this statement.

The European Union welcomes the Franco-German joint presidencies' determination to bring the Women, Peace and Security agenda into the limelight of the Council and the international community at large. This is in line with the initiatives implemented by other EU member states during their recent mandates on the Council. The adoption today of a new Resolution on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence is a positive step forward and we are fully committed to play our part in its implementation.

Allow me to extend our gratitude to today’s briefers, whose actions and commitment are an inspiration to all of us. On this 10th anniversary of the mandate of the SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict, we also thank Special Representative Ms. Pramila Patten and her predecessors for their dedication and service. We reiterate our full support for the mandate of SR.

Mr Chair,

The Secretary-General's annual report on Sexual Violence in Conflict is a dispiriting read and we are sad to have to concur with his observation, that despite some progress, impunity and atrocity of perpetrators for conflict-related sexual violence continues to be the norm in many parts of the world, regardless of during war, conflict or post-conflict settings, where both state and non-state actors commit such heinous crimes.

Strengthening proper accountability for this crime is crucial. We reiterate our call on the Security Council to systematically and explicitly include and apply sexual violence as a designation criterion within UN sanctions regimes, particularly where regimes overlap with perpetrators mentioned in the SG report.

It is the responsibility of all States, and of the International Community as a whole, to address Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, protect survivors and bring perpetrators to justice, following a zero-tolerance policy. Prevention, Protection and Prosecution should be the driving forces of all efforts:

  • Prevention: we reiterate the importance of promoting a culture of full gender-equality and women’s empowerment, supporting women's and community-based organisations, boosting women's participation in political/economic/social decision-making and in peace processes, properly including men and boys and training them to become gender champions, and adopting National Action Plans for UNSCR 1325, as key measures to prevent Conflict-Related Sexual Violence:
  • Protection: we insist on the urgency of ensuring full access to comprehensive, coordinated and quality services, including sexual and reproductive health care, psychological support, legal counselling, as well as relief and recovery programmes, for all survivors, without discrimination based on any grounds, including sex, race, ethnic or social origin, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, disability, age, sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Prosecution: we recall the need to ensure adequate investigation and prosecution through collection of reliable sex-disaggregated data; facilitate access to justice for survivors; and ensure specific protection and psychological support to witnesses, and victims, including children born of wartime rape.

We emphasise in this context the significant progress in international justice made by the International Criminal Court, as well as non-permanent International Criminal Tribunals or similar Courts in combating conflict-related sexual violence. This is a good example of international judicial cooperation to ensure accountability, but we need to bear in mind that the ICC's jurisdiction is complementary to that of States and that the primary responsibility for bringing perpetrators to justice resides with States. At national level, accountability, transitional and restorative justice mechanisms are crucial to this end.

We also recognise and support the important contribution of civil society, women's organisations and women human rights defenders who challenge violent gender norms, prevent sexual and gender-based violence and provide medical and psychological services to communities.

We are particularly concerned about the risks and harm faced by mothers and their children born as result of sexual violence and would welcome the briefers' recommendations on how to better prevent and address these situations. We also note that according to the SG report LGBTI individuals are sometimes specifically targeted with sexual violence in conflict and call on the Council to give due attention to this issue.

Mister Chair,

In the spirit of the Secretary-General's recommendations, the EU has taken concrete actions to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence based on a holistic approach. Sexual violence and gender-based violence are not only early warning indicators for instability, insecurity in fragile environments, but also structural risk indicators of potential and atrocity crimes as identified in the Responsibility to Protect - Atrocity Prevention Toolkit that the EU launched at the end of 2018.

The EU supports all efforts to end impunity including gender-sensitive transitional justice processes and building the capacity of law enforcement and justice systems to handle cases in a gender-sensitive way. The EU's Gender-Sensitive Transitional Justice project achieved some important outcomes in 2018.

I would like to underline the encouraging example of Kosovo*[1], where nearly two decades after the conflict, survivors of conflict-related sexual violence are now finally able to apply for reparations for the physical, psychological, economic, and social traumas they endured during the war. With the support of the EU, more than 1000 applications were submitted in one year and over 200 survivors have already received payments in 2018. The EU has also contributed to the launch of the region's first Transitional Justice Resource Centre at the University of Pristina in 2018.

Sexual violence is a global phenomenon, which requires a global response. Two years ago, the EU and the UN jointly launched the Spotlight Initiative to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls worldwide. We invite all UN Member States to join the initiative to put a definitive end to these despicable practices.

In 2018, the EU allocated approximately 30 million EUR in humanitarian aid for the prevention of and response to sexual and gender-based violence worldwide. From June 2017 to December 2018, the EU led the "Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies". During our leadership, the EU piloted of the Call to Action in Nigeria and Democratic Republic of the Congo, organised 10 awareness-raising workshops and organised several high-level awareness-raising events. The EU continues to work closely with Canada to take this initiative further so as to ensure effective implementation. We are also promoting the widest possible implementation of the Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe against all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence.

These actions can only make a real difference if they are accompanied by a genuine paradigm shift in our societies. Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment, in particular ensuring full and effective participation of women and girls in all spheres are essential prerequisites for the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

The United Nations can continue to rely on the full engagement and support of the European Union to achieve our shared goals and help millions of women and girls feel safe and free to deploy their full potential.


* North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

[1] This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

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