European Union External Action

EU Statement: United Nations General Assembly: Event on International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict

New York, 19/06/2019 - 23:27, UNIQUE ID: 190618_34
Statements on behalf of the EU

19 June 2019, New York – Statement by Ambassador Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, at the United Nations Event on International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict

Mr Chair,


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


We thank Argentina and the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and on Children and Armed Conflict for organising this important event. Our appreciation also goes to the special guests for their testimonies. We fully support Rise's tremendous work to uphold survivors' rights globally. 


Exactly 11 years ago, the Security Council adopted landmark resolution 1820 condemning sexual violence as "a tactic of war, which can significantly exacerbate situations of armed  conflict  and  may  impede  the  restoration  of  international  peace  and  security". Since then, important work has been carried out both at the technical and operational levels to tackle this despicable crime. Despite progress, we regret that conflict-related sexual violence continues to be perpetrated in almost full impunity in several parts of the world.


The European Union stands with all survivors, women and girls, men and boys, as well as with children born as a result of sexual violence. We welcome the focus of this year's commemoration on ensuring a survivor-centred response, as outlined for the first time in Security Council resolution 2467 adopted this April. For way too long, policies have been developed without clearly taking into account the experiences and needs of survivors. A holistic, survivor-centred approach is one that empowers and builds the resilience of affected individuals and communities, while minimizing the risk of re-traumatization, social ostracism, stigma and reprisals.


This is the most efficient way to ensure that all survivors are guaranteed access to comprehensive psychological and health care services, as well as justice and reparations. The health risks and harm faced by survivors require immediate and unconditional care, in particular sexual and reproductive health care. We are appalled by the tendency of some states or groups to try to deny survivors access to these most basic services. The EU is massively investing in health programmes supporting sexual and reproductive health in crisis situations across the world and is stepping up efforts wherever these rights are being challenged.


As underlined by EU High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini and SRSG Pramila Patten in a joint statement published yesterday: "the European Union and the United Nations are committed to further strengthen their work in terms of prevention, protection and prosecution, as well as in terms of holistic support to survivors to help them rebuild their lives and livelihoods within their families and communities". From DRC to South Sudan, from Iraq to Yemen, the EU and the UN are joining forces to end impunity for perpetrators and guarantee a fair access to justice and protection for survivors and witnesses, with an emphasis on restorative justice.


Ultimately, our actions can only make a lasting difference if they are accompanied by a genuine shift in social attitudes. To this end, we need to raise awareness, amplify the voices of those who are affected or at risk, and foster more equitable, educated, and peaceful societies. We call on all stakeholders - States, international and regional organisations, private sector, civil society organisations and citizens, men and boys included - to take their part in combating harmful gender norms and preventing sexual violence.


Thank you, Mr Chair.

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