Remarks on the Adoption of a UNSC Resolution to Combat Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Secretary of State
United Nations Headquarters
New York City
September 30, 2009
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SECRETARY CLINTON: The 6,195th meeting of the Security Council is called to order. The provisional agenda for this meeting is before the Council in document S/Agenda 6,195, which reads, and I quote: “Women and Peace and Security,” end of quote. Unless I hear any objection, I shall consider the agenda adopted. The agenda is adopted.
I should like to inform the Council that I have received letters from the representatives of 55 countries in which they request to be invited to participate in the consideration of the item on the Council’s agenda. In accordance with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite those representatives to participate in the consideration without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provision of the Charter and Rule 37 of the Council’s Provisional Rules of Procedure. There being no objection, it is so decided.
I invite the aforementioned 55 representatives to take the seats reserved for them at the side of the Council chamber. And on behalf of the Council, I wish to acknowledge the presence in the chamber of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Burkina Faso, His Excellency Minister Yoda, and the Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophone of France, His Excellency, Mr. Joyandet.
The Security Council will now begin its consideration of item two of the agenda. The Security Council is meeting in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations. Members of the Council have before them document S/2009/489, which contains the text of a draft resolution submitted by Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United Republic of Tanzania and the United States of America.
I wish to draw the attention of members to document S/2009/362 containing the report of the Secretary General, pursuant to Resolution 1820. It is my understanding that the Council is ready to proceed to the vote on the draft resolution before it. Unless I hear any objection, I shall put the draft resolution to the vote now. There being no objection, it is so decided.
Will those in favor of the draft resolution contained in document S/2009/489 please raise their hand?
(Show of hands.)
The result of the voting is as follows: The draft resolution received 15 votes in favor. The draft resolution has been adopted unanimously as Resolution 1888 of 2009. Those against? Abstentions? None. (Laughter.)
I shall now have the privilege of making a statement in my capacity as the Secretary of State for the United States, and I am very grateful to speak before the Security Council on this important issue. I want to thank everyone who has worked very hard to reach this point on this resolution, and of course, to have it adopted unanimously, because we’re here to address an issue that has received too little attention, not only in these chambers over the last six decades, but I would suggest in all of our halls of government across the world. It is an important issue that goes to the core of our commitment to ensure the safety of the United Nations member-states and their citizens.
Under the UN Charter, the 15 members of this Council bear primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. Now, satisfying that responsibility includes us to protect the lives and physical security of all people, including the women who comprise half the planet’s population. This responsibility is particularly acute in circumstances where peace and stability are challenged. Even though women and children are rarely responsible for initiating armed conflict, they are often war’s most vulnerable and violated victims.
The resolution we passed today represents a step forward in our global efforts to end violence perpetrated against women and children in conflict zones, and it builds on two prior Security Council resolutions: Resolution 1325, which called on all parties in conflicts to respect women’s rights and increase their participation in peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction efforts; and Resolution 1820, adopted last year, which affirms the ambitions set out in 1325, and establishes a clear link between maintaining international peace and security, and preventing and responding to sexual violence used as a tactic of war to target civilians. Yet despite these actions by the United Nations Security Council, violence against women and girls in conflict-related situations has not diminished; in fact, in some cases, it has escalated.
Now, reading the headlines, one might think that the use of rape as a tactic of war only happens occasionally, or in a few places, like the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Sudan. That would be bad enough, but the reality is much worse. We’ve seen rape used as a tactic of war before in Bosnia, Burma, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere. In too many countries and in too many cases, the perpetrators of this violence are not punished, and so this impunity encourages further attacks.
Last month, I traveled to Goma in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where over 1,100 rapes are reported every month. I met with survivors of sexual violence. And the physical and emotional damage to individual women and their families from these attacks cannot be quantified, nor can the toll on their societies.
The dehumanizing nature of sexual violence doesn’t just harm a single individual or a single family or even a single village or a single group. It shreds the fabric that weaves us together as human beings, it endangers families and communities, erodes social and political stability, and undermines economic progress. We need to understand that it holds all of us back. Also, our failure as an international body to respond concretely to this global problem erodes our collective effectiveness. So we must act now to end this crisis not only to protect vulnerable people and promote human security, but to uphold the legitimacy of this body.
Now, the international community has made progress. Many peacekeeping mandates now include Security Council requests for strengthened measures to prevent and respond to sexual violence. In Chad and Sudan, UN peacekeepers have clear instructions underscoring their responsibility to protect local populations against sexual and gender-based violence.
And I recently met with the UN troops in Liberia, who provide an excellent example of the steps a UN mission can take, Mr. Secretary General, both through its own actions and in cooperation with the host government to prevent violence against women and girls. It is also very important that in Liberia, the United Nations mission includes an all-women police unit from India. That all-women police unit has helped to motivate more Liberian women to become police officers, and the mission has launched a joint UN-Liberian campaign against rape.
Now, these steps are essential, but alone they’re not sufficient. So this resolution identifies specific steps that the United Nations and member-states can and should take to improve the UN response to sexual violence committed during situations of armed conflict. It calls on the Secretary General to appoint a special representative to lead, coordinate, and advocate for efforts to end sexual violence. We expect that person to engage at high levels with civilian and military leaders to spearhead the UN’s activities on this front.
It also calls on the Secretary General to rapidly deploy a team of experts to work with governments to strengthen the rule of law, address impunity, and enhance accountability while drawing attention to the full range of legal venues that can be brought into play, including domestic, international, and mixed courts that bring local and international judges and prosecutors together to strengthen local justice systems.
We must also recognize that ending conflicts outright is the most certain path to ending sexual violence in conflict. So pursuing peace and successful post-conflict transitions should be our highest priority. In states where conflict is taking place and those that are moving beyond it, local police must receive better training, the rule of law must be strengthened, and survivors must be ensured full access to justice and protection throughout the judicial process. We envision that this team of experts called for in this resolution will help us strengthen initiatives like those.
Now, beyond the measures outlined in the resolution, the Security Council should take additional steps. Protecting women and children should be a critical priority for all troops who wear the blue helmet. To reflect this, new and renewed peacekeeping mandates should include language condemning sexual violence and giving further guidance to peacekeeping missions to work with local authorities to end it.
We must seek to ensure that our respective military and police forces, especially those who will participate in peacekeeping missions, develop the expertise to prevent and respond to violence against women and children. And this will be helped by increasing the number of women who serve in UN peacekeeping missions. When I visited the mission in Goma, I was very impressed at how integrated it was in every way, from every country, every kind of person represented, and many women in the leadership as well as in the ranks.
And let us not forget that it is often women who lead the call for peace in communities shattered by violence. We have seen women in this role from Liberia to Rwanda to Northern Ireland to Guatemala. Even when they suffer terrible losses in conflicts they had no part in starting, women have the will to reach across divisions, find common ground, and foster understanding. As they seek peace, so must we by making sure they are part of all efforts. So I urge UN member-states to make sure their foreign assistance programs include measures to prevent and respond to violence against women and children, and to ensure that women are included in designing and implementing those programs.
In his speech at the General Assembly last week, President Obama challenged nations of the world to assume responsibility for the challenges confronting us. Certainly, the challenge of sexual violence in conflict cannot and should not be separated from the broader security issues confronting this Council. It is time for all of us to assume our responsibility to go beyond condemning this behavior, to taking concrete steps to end it, to make it socially unacceptable, to recognize it is not cultural; it is criminal. And the more we say that over and over and over again, the more we will change attitudes, create peer pressure, and the conditions for the elimination of this violation.
When I was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I was told of an old proverb that says “No matter how long the night, the day is sure to come.” Well, I hope our work today and every day going forward will hasten the time when thousands of women around the world will be able to feel comfortable in walking the streets of their cities and villages freely again – to work outside their homes, collect firewood and water without fear, play with their children, spend time with their husbands, enjoy all the blessings of life in freedom, peace, and security. That is our dream for a better future for them and for us, and I thank this body for the strong commitment that this resolution represents. (Applause.)
Thank you so much. I resume now my function as president of the Council. I kind of like being a president, so I – (laughter) – this may go on a little longer than anticipated. (Applause.) And I shall now invite the distinguished Secretary General, His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon to take the floor.
SECRETARY GENERAL BAN: Thank you, Madame President – (laughter) – distinguished members of the Security Council, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. I’m pleased to address you again on Security Council Resolution 1820. At the outset, I’d like to welcome again to the United Nations and I’d like to commend your leadership and commitment on all major goals and ideas of the United Nations, including this very important issue of – on women, peace, and security.
Ladies and gentlemen, despite some progress in responding to sexual violence in armed conflicts, the deliberate targeting of civilians continues unabated, including on a widespread systemic basis. Parties to armed country continue to use sexual violence with efficient brutality. The perpetrators generally operate with impunity. States and other parties to conflict must uphold their international legal obligations. The international community must do more to prevent violence, protect individuals, punish perpetrators, and provide redress to victims. With this resolution today, the Security Council is sending an unequivocal message, a call to action. It is an ambitious platform for intensifying this struggle. It builds on Resolution 1820, which itself set an important precedent by recognizing the links between sexual violence and sustainable peace and security.
I am fully committed to ensuring that the provisions of both resolutions are implemented in partnership with all relevant stakeholders. I will continue to ensure effective follow-up by the UN system. The Council’s continued engagement will be crucial.
My recent report to you offered a series of mutually reinforcing recommendations for action. Sexual violence in armed conflict, or indeed at any time, should have no place and find no haven in the world. We must do all our part to fight and end discrimination against women and girls. The composite gender entity recently agreed by the General Assembly should strengthen our work for women’s empowerment. I have asked the Deputy Secretary General to lead efforts to put that entity in place.
I will also continue to do everything in my power to advance gender equality among UN staff, including in my senior appointments. Women’s empowerment must be at the heart of our global work for peace and development.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I thank the Secretary General for his statement and for his support.
I now give the floor to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Burkina Faso, His Excellency, Mr. Yoda.
MINISTER YODA: (Via interpreter) Madame President, Secretary General of the United Nations, distinguished Council members, my delegation is grateful for the Council’s organizing this important meeting of the Security Council providing for the adoption of the resolution and the follow-up to the implementation of Resolution 1820 concerning sexual violence in areas of armed conflict.
We greatly appreciate your presence amongst us, Secretary General of the United Nations, partaking in this important discussion, as well as the valuable and unequivocal message that you have sent on this topic.
The particular attention that the Security Council has paid to the fate of women and girls living in zones of armed conflict bears witness to the awareness on the part of the international community of the harmful consequences of sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls in areas of conflict.
The dynamism that has developed through the adoption of Resolution 1820 has made it possible to sound the alarm concerning the scourge which attacks the dignity of women and also undermines their ability to participate and contribute to peace and social stability. In particular, in areas of armed conflict in Africa, in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in particular, we have seen that the acts of sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls in areas of armed conflict has taken on a staggering magnitude, which the international community can no longer afford to tolerate. These acts of violence against women creates greater hatred amongst the warring parties and prevents the full participation of women in the post-conflict reconstruction process.
Madame President, the resolution that we have adopted under your leadership will allow us to equip the international community and the various protagonists in an armed conflict to better apprehend the consequences of this tragic human destiny, allowing them thus to shoulder their responsibilities in protecting human rights during times of conflict.
Madame President, distinguished Council members, Burkina Faso has always subscribed to all initiatives seeking to ensure respect for human dignity, in particular, the human dignity of women, and in order to establish a peaceful society free from any violations of human rights. In accordance with the ideals of peace and security within the United Nations Charter, Burkina Faso roundly supports the contents of the resolution that we have just adopted, and once again would like to thank the delegation of the United States as well as all other delegations for the efforts that they have made in order to arrive at a balanced and consensual text, a text which can contribute towards eradication of the scourge of sexual violence in armed conflict.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I thank Foreign Minister Yoda for his statement. (Applause.)
I now give the floor to the Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophone of France, His Excellency, Mr. Joyandet.
MINISTER JOYANDET: (Via interpreter) Thank you, Madame Secretary of State, Madame President, ladies and gentlemen, ministers, and to Secretary General. Ladies and gentlemen, ambassadors, I am pleased with the holding at the initiative of the American presidency of the Council this open debate on women, peace and security, dedicated to the fight against sexual violence in armed conflict.
The fight against this scourge throughout the world is a priority. Sadly, Madame President and Mr. Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen and ministers, ladies and gentlemen and ambassadors – sadly, this subject is at this very moment relevant in Conakry, in Guinea, during the events which took place on 28th of September. Many people were injured. Women were raped in the streets of Conakry. France would like to alert the Council to the dramatic tragic situation that is currently taking place in Conakry.
The fight against this scourge, as I was saying, throughout the world is a priority for France’s foreign policy. We welcome the commitment by the United States to this issue. And in this respect, I would like to commend the personal actions by Hillary Clinton. This new resolution marks a decisive step in the protection of women in armed conflict, nine years after the Council’s adoption of the fundamental Resolution 1325, and one year after the adoption of Resolution 1820. It will strengthen their effective implementation, thanks to a coherent system.
First of all, the creation of a post of special representative of the Secretary General to address sexual violence and armed conflict is a major step forward. It aims to ensure the coherence of the United States Nations actions with the support of UN action. We hope that this post will be created as soon as possible. We would like to see the appointment of a person who has experience in the field and real knowledge of the issue of sexual violence. This person should also be able to be a voice for the voiceless; that is, the victims of these atrocities.
We hope that the report to the Secretary General that aims to identify possible improvements in the coherence of the United Nations actions – this report, which is to be drafted in the next three months, we hope this will make it possible for the new special representative to gain time upon taking up his post.
Second, the creation of a team of experts assisting – which will help governments in need, will help to strengthen national authority with high-level technical expertise that is available within the United Nations and also available to states which so desire. Within peacekeeping operations, the creation of women’s protection advisors is important. Their mandate will be focused on monitoring and follow-up for situations and will complement the action of gender counselors. France, in particular, will ensure the implementation of this measure.
It is also essential that sexual violence be subject to specific follow-up in the reports on peacekeeping operations and the annual report to the Secretary General, including information on parties to armed conflict who commit sexual violence in situations which are on the Council’s agenda, so as to have more data and information, which, for the moment, remains too fragmentary.
I hope that you have been convinced of the coherence of all of the plans the Council has established with this new resolution; that is, the special representative and the report of the Secretary General within three months to enhance the effectiveness of the United Nations; the team of experts to better prevent and deal with sexual violence in states where it is necessary; strengthening the contribution of peacekeeping operations, thanks to the creation of the post of women’s protection counselors; annual reports by the Secretary General so that the Council has adequate information, which is an essential prerequisite for its actions.
Madame President, Mr. Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen, I would like now to highlight France’s commitment to two complementary elements in this system: the mechanism set up for the protection of children in armed conflict; and the need for the Council to decide to impose sanctions where necessary to combat impunity.
First of all, we must make use of the possibilities offered by the Council’s working group on children in armed conflict. This working group makes it possible to examine problematic situations, to make recommendations, and in case of persistent noncompliance with its recommendations by belligerents to consider adopting sanctions by the Council. This is a unique mechanism, whose effectiveness on the ground is real.
I would like now to welcome the very important institutional progress made through the adoption one month ago of Resolution 1882, which expanded the monitoring and reporting mechanism of Resolution 1612 to sexual violence committed against children, independently of whether or not child soldiers are present. While this mechanism applies to children, it can, however, make a useful contribution to combating sexual violence against women. Just one figure allows us to grasp the relevance of such an approach. It is estimated that 60 percent of the women raped in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are minors. In this respect, transparency, cooperation, and coordination of efforts between the special representative of the Secretary General for children in armed conflict and the new special representative of the Secretary General on sexual violence and armed conflict will be essential.
We must also accept the idea that without genuine punishment there is neither prevention nor dissuasion. France welcomes the work done by the sanctions committees. Pursuant to the commitments made in Resolution 1820, the Council must systematically consider the possibility of including sexual violence as grounds for sanctions when creating or revising mandates of these committees. When the grounds exist, it is up to the experts to invoke it. From this point of view last March, together with Belgium, the United States, and the United Kingdom, we supported the inclusion by the committee on the Democratic Republic of the Congo of four members of the FDLR on a list of persons subject to individual sanctions.
France, finally, is pleased that the fight against sexual violence has been subject to particular attention during the annual visit of the Security Council to Africa last May. The Security Council then successfully advocated with the authorities of the DRC for five officers accused of committing sexual violence to be prosecuted. The Council must remain mobilized on this issue.
Ladies and gentlemen, ministers, Mr. Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen, ambassadors, in conclusion, I would like to recall that it is our responsibility to develop programs to assist victims, to offer them care and prospects of rehabilitation, but also to work in order to avoid their stigmatization. Meeting their needs means that they must be systematically consulted and involved in all of the phases of programs designed for them. Please be assured that France fully associates itself and will join in the implementation of concrete projects to assist victims of rape and other sexual violence.
Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Minister Joyandet. (Applause.)
I now wish to turn to Mexico and invite the statement of the representative.
MR. HELLER: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much, Madame President.
Madame President, I would like to thank the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, for joining us in this important meeting of the Security Council. In turn, we would also like to welcome amongst us the Minister for Foreign Affairs Burkina Faso, His Excellency Bedouma Alain Yoda, and the Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophone of France, His Excellency Alain Joyandet. In particular, I would like to welcome you, Madame Secretary of State, and wish to acknowledge your personal commitment and leadership, which has created renewed impetus for the agenda concerning the protection of women’s rights and the prevention of all forms of violence against women. My delegation would also like to thank the delegation of the United States for leading negotiations on the Resolution 1888, which has just been adopted.
Madame President, through the unanimous adoption of this resolution, the Security Council has reiterated its commitment to the protection of women in the context of armed conflict. The significant number of delegations who have chosen to co-sponsor this initiative also shows that the international community is resolved to ensure that women and children no longer remain the principal victims of armed conflict, which deplorably are occurring in various parts of the world. The Council members themselves were able to see for their own eyes the gravity of the acts of sexual violence affecting women and children in the areas of armed conflict, following our visit to a number of countries on the African continent last May, in particular, to the Democratic Republic of Congo. On that occasion, we witnessed the consequences of these crimes among societies and the negative impacts that they have on efforts to try and find a solution to crisis situations in order to promote an effective process of national reconciliation. For that reason, we wish to reiterate, as is done in Resolution 1888, the primordial obligation of all parties to an armed conflict to respect and to enforce throughout international humanitarian law, which grants particular protection to women and children.
My delegation believes that the establishment of a special representative of the Secretary General for sexual violence in armed conflict will make it possible to improve the systematic and comprehensive attention that the United Nations provides in response to sexual violence which arises in situations of armed conflict.
This new mandate should work in a coordinated manner with other United Nations mechanisms and agencies in order to harness synergies and in order to prevent duplication. In particular, there is a broad relationship between the objectives of Resolution 1888 and Resolution 1820 concerning – as well as the resolution concerning children in armed conflict, which was adopted by the Security Council last August. These common objectives must be duly explored for the benefit of a comprehensive protection of all those who, due to their condition, suffer most from the consequences of armed conflict, women and children.
In light of the aforementioned, we believe that the Security Council must pay close attention also to the ongoing negotiations concerning the establishment of a composite gender entity, in accordance with the General Assembly, and has decided to review the mandate of the special representative in a reasonable period of time and in light of the results of the procedure outlined in Resolution 63/311.
Madame President, while more can be done on the international level in order to prevent sexual violence in situations of armed conflict, the eradication of sexual violence would only be achieved if national capacities among those states that are addressing situations of conflict are improved in order to be able to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice. Therefore, one of the most relevant aspects of the resolution is the identification within the United Nations of a multidisciplinary team of experts who, when their assistance is required and with the consent of the state concerned, can be deployed to the field in order to work jointly with the government and the United Nations system in order to undertake projects for technical cooperation in order to strengthen the rule of law, to prevent impunity, and to address the victims’ needs. It’s clear that currently we have strong tools in order to prevent sexual violence from arising in areas of conflict. The true challenge that we face is making progress towards the – making full use of this array of instruments, if we truly wish to ensure that more women and children do not fall victim to the spiral of violence that is caused by armed conflict.
Thank you very much, Madame President. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I thank the representative of Mexico for his statement. I shall now give the floor to the representative of the United Kingdom.
MR. SAWERS: Thank you, Madame President. Madame President, I was struck by the words of the foreign minister of the DRC in the General Assembly this week. He said that sexual violence committed against women and girls in the east of his country constituted the most shameful and serious crimes experienced by humanity in the 21st century. These words were a powerful reminder of the challenge this Council faces as it takes forward work on the agenda set last year by Resolution 1820 because sexual crimes – sexual violence is a crime for which individuals can and must be held responsible, however senior they are.
The perpetrators of sexual violence know that one result of their crime is to destroy local communities and make lasting peace harder to achieve. That is often their intention as continued conflict leaves the men of violence – and it is invariably men – in a position of dominance. Madame President, you saw that challenge firsthand during your visit to the DRC. We are grateful for the strong leadership that you personally and that the United States has given on this agenda. The Secretary General’s presence here today signals his personal engagement. He has taken up the issue with passion, and I encourage him to persist. And as Minister Joyandet reminded us, the Security Council mission to Africa in May made forceful representations to the DRC leadership. And we welcome the steps taken to bring to account officers of the DRC armed forces who have been involved in sexual violence.
The United Kingdom welcomes the resolution we have unanimously adopted today. It further strengthens our collective commitment to end impunity for sexual violence. The resolution gives new coherence to UN efforts through the initiative on UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict. It provides new leadership to combat sexual violence through the creation of a special representative of the Secretary General. It creates new steps to name and shame parties to armed conflict that perpetrate sexual violence. It calls on the United Nations to boost its support of national efforts to strengthen the rule of law by deploying teams of experts in situations where sexual violence is occurring with apparent impunity. And it improves the information flows to the Council on patterns of sexual violence to allow us to develop specific, actionable responses. In combination, Madame President, these measures give us new tools to act on sexual violence. We welcome and support them, alongside the General Assembly’s recent decision to form a composite United Nations gender entity. The key now will be implementation.
Madame President, the Council has come a long way since the adoption of Resolution 1325 nine years ago. It has taken time, too much time, for the United Nations to address the issue of systematic sexual violence in conflict. I would like to pay tribute to the pioneering work of Dr. Denis Mukwege and his colleagues at the Panzi Hospital of Bukavu, and Dr. Jo Lusi and his colleagues at the Heal Hospital in Goma, where the women and children who have been raped and brutally defiled are given treatment and care. I also commend the work of the many people around the world who have campaigned to raise the issue of sexual violence onto the political agenda: Eve Ensler, Lisa Jackson, and the NGO Women for Women led by Zainab Salbi have all played particularly valuable roles. And Resolution 1820, which we adopted last year, making systematic sexual violence a war crime, was a landmark step forward.
But the problem persists not just in the DRC, but in conflicts across the globe. And the events in Guinea this week are a cruel reminder of how rape and political repression go hand in hand. The message from today’s meeting should be that women can never be truly empowered while they remain threatened by sexual violence, and that peace cannot take root when half the community, the female half, lives in fear and trepidation. The Security Council must take up its responsibilities and never again relegate the question of systematic sexual violence to being a secondary issue. It is not. And the measures we have adopted over the last two years, including today’s resolution, now have to be pursued and implemented.
I thank you, Madame President. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I thank the representative of the United Kingdom for his statement. I shall now give the floor to the representative of Costa Rica.
MR. URBINA: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much, Madame President. I would like to begin by thanking you for your presence and to thank the Secretary General and the ministers who are with us here this morning.
Madame President, Costa Rica recognizes your personal leadership and the efforts that your country has made in seeking to combat sexual violence in situations of armed conflict. We believe that the new resolution that was adopted today is a further resolved step on the path that was – that we started last year through the adoption of Resolution 1820 in order to halt sexual violence and its use as a weapon of war.
Madame President, Costa Rica’s position on this subject was made clear in the thematic debate that was held on August the 7th of this year. For that reason, I will limit myself to highlighting only two points: first of all, regarding the special representative of the Secretary General’ and secondly, regarding the team of experts that we are establishing in this resolution.
The appointment of a special representative of the Secretary General to combat sexual violence, without a doubt, will play a strategic role in providing visibility to a fundamental issue, and above all, in order to help organize concerted action in order to combat sexual violence in situations of armed conflict. We believe that it is necessary to harmonize this provisional mechanism with the setting up of the new gender composite entity established by Resolution 63/311 of the General Assembly, in order to avoid any duplication or overlapping of functions.
We believe that the special representative should lead this new United Nations action network in order to make the best possible use of existing capacities and resources within the organization. We hope that the enthusiasm that has been shown for the establishment of this new instrument will be translated into tangible contributions in order to equip it with the necessary capacity so that it can live up to the high expectations that we all have.
Madame President, with regard to the team of experts, we deem it timely to build upon successful initiatives such as the United Nations standing police capacity. We consider that it may be beneficial to use the strategic interventions and technical assistance to help states with the establishment of their own mechanisms in order to address the problem of sexual violence. And we also believe that it would be useful to consider the possibility of complementing and expanding these early and rapid-response capacities with technical assistance for the strengthening of the rule of law and security sector reform.
Finally, Madame President, allow me on behalf of the Human Security Network, which is a group comprised of Austria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Greece, Ireland, Jordan, Mali, Norway, Switzerland, Thailand, Slovenia, and South Africa as an observer, allow me to express our pleasure at the conclusion of the process that has resulted in the adoption of this new resolution. As we expressed in our joint statement made on the August 7th past, we commend the progress that the Security Council has made in its thematic discussions, and reiterate our conviction that it is still necessary to continue to work towards a more comprehensive and strategic approach addressing these six critical areas – prevention, protection, women’s participation, accountability, assistance to victims, and data collection – all of which have been – all of which were outlined in detail at the last thematic debate.
Thank you very much, Madame President. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I thank the representative of Costa Rica for his statement. I shall now give the floor to the representative of Austria.
MR. MAYR-HARTING: Thank you, Madame President. Let me first thank you, Madame President, for your personal leadership in the fight against sexual violence and armed conflict. I would also like to thank Ambassador Susan Rice and the U.S. Mission in New York for the energy and determination they have demonstrated in conducting our work on this resolution during recent weeks.
We believe that this resolution will significantly contribute to strengthening the United Nations response to sexual violence in conflict situations. We see a particular need for the strategic leadership that a newly appointed special representative of the Secretary General can provide. Her or his work will help us address this scourge on a systematic basis in each and every conflict situation where acts of sexual violence occur.
With this goal in view, we also look forward to the upcoming proposals to be submitted by the Secretary General on enhancing, monitoring, and reporting on sexual violence. And let me add that we very much appreciate the personal commitment of the Secretary General in this matter.
Today’s resolution will hopefully also pave the way for a much more systematic flow of information between UN peacekeeping missions and the sanctions committees of the Council on sexual violence in areas of conflict. Where necessary, the Council must ensure the accountability of those responsible for sexual violence and armed conflict, including through the establishment of commissions of inquiry, referrals to the International Criminal Court, and the imposition of targeted measures.
At the same time, Madame President, it is absolutely unacceptable that civilians – in particular, women and girls – continue to fall victim to sexual violence on a daily basis, also in conflict zones where UN peacekeeping missions have a key responsibility for their protection. The fight against sexual violence must therefore also be at the core of our overall protection of civilians agenda. Austria thus pledges to take this work forward when the Council next considers the protection of civilians in armed conflict during our Security Council presidency in the month of November.
Thank you very much, Madame President. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you to the representative of Austria. I shall now give the floor to the representative of Japan.
MR. TAKASU: Thank you very much, Madame President. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to you, Madame Secretary, for personally presiding over this important meeting of the Security Council. We are also grateful to Secretary General and Madame Deputy Secretary General for their presence and their leadership.
Japan is pleased with the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1888 and highly appreciate the initiative taken by U.S. delegation. This resolution manifests a strong commitment of the Security Council to combat sexual violence, which is still prevalent in so many conflict areas in the world. The resolution provides significant added value to last year’s milestone Resolution 1820. It calls for urgent needs on the ground and shifting our commitment in action. In particular, it enhances coordinated UN response to sexual violence in armed conflict, and strengthens UN support to assist national authorities to strengthen rule of law.
First of all, we need to strengthen measures to protect victims of sexual violence, but also to end impunity of violators. At the same time, I’d like to emphasize the importance of supporting and empowering women and children and their fragile situation. We need to support them to realize their full potentials, even under difficult circumstances, through providing health services, education, and vocational training, and to avoid recurrence of conflict and sexual violence.
The Prime Minister Hatoyama in his general debate last week stressed value of human security approach; that is to say, not only to protect, but to empower every individual to live in safety and dignity. I believe that human security approach could provide useful guidance on assistance to women and children in armed conflict. From this point of view, Japan once again welcomes the adoption of Resolution 1888.
Thank you very much, Madame. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I thank the representative of Japan for his statement. I shall now give the floor to the representative of the Russian Federation.
MR. CHURKIN: (Via interpreter) Thank you, Madame Secretary of State of the United States. We welcome you to the UN Security Council, as today’s meeting of the Security Council is the last during the September presidency of the United States. I would like to express appreciation to the permanent representative of the United States, Ambassador Susan Rice, and the entire American delegation for their effective leadership of the Council, and for bringing before the Council a number of important and relevant issues.
The Russian Federation actively helps work to contribute to the success of this undertaking. Madame President, the Russian Federation is satisfied with the adoption of this resolution by the Security Council. This document, we believe, is a complement to previously adopted resolutions 1325 of 2000 and 1820 of 2008 on the issue of women, peace, and security. We see sexual violence as an appalling crime which requires decisive condemnation and harsh punishment.
Of particular concern are situations where this phenomenon becomes widespread and systematic. We are convinced that we should not weaken our attention to other forms of violations of the rights of women and violence against them in situations of armed conflict. In this connection, Russia is in favor of a comprehensive approach to addressing these problems. The diverse nature of violence means that due attention should be given to all categories of it. This is in spirit with Resolution 1325 of the Council, which remains the leading guideline for providing for the – for women’s rights during conflict.
We are convinced that these issues should be looked at not separately from all of the other issues related to gender equality, but together with all these issues. We should recall that an important prerequisite for overcoming violence against women is the full-fledged participation by women themselves in peace negotiations and in post-conflict reconstruction. In this context, the Russian Federation welcomes Vietnam’s initiative to hold on October 5th an open meeting in the Security Council on the issue of the comprehensive implementation of Resolution 1325 with a focus on the role of women in post-conflict reconstruction.
In conclusion, we would like to express our conviction that through joint efforts we will be able not only to decrease the number of acts of sexual violence in armed conflict, but also to significantly make progress in ensuring gender equality and improving the situation for women in spirit of the – in the spirit of the Fourth Conference on Women and the 23rd Special Session of the General Assembly.
Thank you, Madame President.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And I thank the representative of the Russian Federation for his statement. And now I turn to give the floor to the representative of Vietnam.
MR. LE: Madame President, I thank you, Ambassador Susan Rice personally, and the U.S. delegation, for the efforts to strengthen the Council’s commitment to combat against sexual violence in armed conflict. The implementation of Resolution 1820, since adoption last year, has achieved meaningful progress, most visible in the markedly improved awareness across the UN system, the international community, and in many conflict areas on sexual violence. The international community is increasingly recognizing the need to work together to effectively put an end to one of the most vicious and inhuman type of violence.
Madame President, my delegation, however, believe that formidable challenges remain, especially in implementing resolution on the ground. This requires concerted efforts by the UN bodies, member-states, and other stakeholders to ensure comprehensive approach to the issue of sexual violence, including in the area that’s in cooperation into the early stages of the peace process. In this connection, (inaudible) of the UN’s coordination role is essential. We look forward to working with the UN bodies and other stakeholders and other member-states toward this objective.
Madame President, having voted for the resolution, my delegation confirms once again Vietnam’s strong commitment to ending sexual violence wherever it occurs. We, at the same time, believe that Resolution 1820 and Resolution 1888 the Council just adopted should be implemented in close coordination with the implementation of Resolution 1325. Since women’s empowerment is among the most effective tool for their protection, women’s participation in peace, conflict resolution, and post-conflict processes should be promoted to ensure that their (inaudible) is heard, their rights respected, and their (inaudible) needs met.
Measures to protect women and girls from sexual violence in conflict situations should also be designed as part of the broader comprehensive and strategic framework which covers social, economic, and development issues. The UN bodies and donors should be encouraged and facilitated to assist national governments in building gender-related capacity and developing gender-sensitive programs to help survivors of sexual violence with services ranging from (inaudible) to justice, relief from stigma and (inaudible), to provision of mental and psychological healthcare.
It’s equally important that women’s physical security is supported by economic and social security through income-generation activities, education, and involvement in decision making. With this objective in furtherance of the efforts the Council is taking today under your guidance, Madame President, Vietnam, as the upcoming president of the Council, will convene an open debate next Monday, 5 October, on the team responding to the needs of women and girls in post-conflict situation for sustainable peace and security. We look forward to active participation, meaningful discussions, and a substantive outcome that will make the international community’s effort to protect, together, (inaudible) half of the humankind more complete.
I thank you, Madame President. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: And I thank the representative of Vietnam for his statement. I shall now give the floor to the representative of Turkey.
MR. APAKAN: Thank you, Madame President. I would first like to thank the U.S. delegation, and in particular, to you, Madame President, for your personal involvement and leadership in advancing the cause of women around the world, and for your most commendable efforts in mobilizing the Council to the adoption of this important resolution today.
I also wish to express our deep appreciation to the Secretary General for his commitment to combating violence against women and reenergizing the entire UN system in this direction. Madame President, today, with this resolution, we are giving yet another strong message to the world at large that violence against women and children, particularly in the situations of armed conflict, is not acceptable, and that such acts will never be tolerated.
Your presence here today, Madame President, amplifies this message and further solidifies our resolve. Indeed, the women and children who continue to be subjected to most cruel forms of violence against armed conflicts shall hopefully see that they are not alone in their plight, and that the international community will not spare an effort to stop their sufferings. This is why Turkey has supported these resolutions since the very beginning and actively contributed to its negotiations, bearing in mind the Council’s primary responsibility in the protection of civilians at times of armed conflict, in particular, the women and children.
Madame President, the resolution we have adopted has many important aspects, but maybe its most significant added value derives from its action-oriented nature. Indeed, in this resolution, we are not only condemning those who perpetrate acts of violence against women, but also call for action against them. With the establishment of a new mechanism and the decision to appoint a special representative, in particular, the UN and the international community has demonstrated this firm commitment and political will to effectively prevent sexual violence against women, combat impunity, and enforce accountability and rule of law.
Turkey is fully committed to exert every effort in order to ensure the effective implementation of this resolution. Together with Resolution 1325 and 1820, this resolution provides us a comprehensive framework in empowering women, and we will do our utmost to make best use of this opportunity.
Thank you, Madame President. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: And I thank the representative of Turkey for his statement. I shall now give the floor to the representative of Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
MR. SHALGHAM: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much, Madame President. First of all, I would like to thank you and to convey our recognition and acknowledgement to you for this initiative. I would also like to greet Ambassador Susan Rice and to thank her for her efforts and her leadership here within the Security Council during the month of September, as well as for the initiatives and the projects that she has launched. I welcome amongst us the ministers for foreign affairs who have joined us this morning.
Madame President, our visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo and to other African countries that have experienced long periods of conflict and our meetings with a number of the victims of acts of sexual violence and torture were shocking for all of us. In turn, we held great hopes after meeting with young people from all regions of the world, young people who are helping and assisting the victims. We felt that there was greater human awareness and that this awareness was greater than suffering, and there was an understanding of the need to protect life.
The perpetrators of acts of violence have not simply made done with killing victims, but they have maimed and defiled the survivors in an irreversible manner. As a result, it is indispensible that legislation be adopted in order to ensure that these crimes do not go unpunished, and to ensure that these crimes can be brought before court, as they incite hatred and violence.
With regard to the scenes with took place in Conakry, Guinea, yesterday and the stories that we have heard from suffering women who have been raped, then tortured, and then killed, this is truly horrific. And so thank you very much for this initiative, Madame President. And I would like also to thank the Secretary General for his initiative to appoint a special representative for acts of sexual violence.
Any criminals, wherever they be, in Iraq or Congo or in Palestine, must be brought before justice. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I thank the representative for his statement. I shall now give the floor to the representative of Croatia.
MR. VILOVIC: Thank you, Madame President. Allow me, first of all, to thank you personally, and to the U.S. delegation and Ambassador Susan Rice for their continuing leadership on the issue of sexual violence in armed conflicts. I would also like to thank Secretary General for his steady engagement. Croatia would like to add its voice to those who strive to put an end to this abhorrent practice. Since Croatia has delivered this speech during the open debate on the implementation of Resolution 1820 in August this year, allow me here to add some brief remarks.
First and foremost, I would like to state that Croatia has been a strong supporter of the Resolution 1820 within the Council, both from its conceptual phase to its ultimate adoption. It is in this same vein that we now give equal support to this new resolution that we have just adopted today, and would like to take this opportunity to applaud everyone who has worked so hard to gain this result.
With Resolution 1888, the Security Council recognizes many important elements in the fight against sexual violence in armed conflicts. It has recognized the need for civilian and military leaders to demonstrate political will to combat impunity and to use their authority and powers to prevent sexual violence. It demands the protection of civilians from sexual violence by all parties during armed conflict, and urges them to investigate all reports of sexual violence.
Security – the members of Security Council have had the opportunity to visit today’s most affected areas, talk to victims, and are fully aware of the gravity of the problem. Moreover, the Security Council has reiterated its intention when adopting or renewing targeted sanctions to consider including designation criteria pertaining to acts of rape and other forms of sexual violence.
Notwithstanding these positive measures, we believe that the resolution’s request to the Secretary General to appoint a special representative to address this issue of sexual violence in armed conflict, as well as to rapidly deploy a team of experts to situations of particular concern with respect to sexual violence, deserve special praise.
Madame President, in adopting Resolution 1888, as well as the recently adopted Resolution 1882, the Security Council is sending a clear signal to those who continue perpetrating horrific crimes against women and girls in armed conflict and to those who tolerate or condone it: They will be held accountable.
Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: And I thank the representative for his statement. I shall now give the floor to the representative of Uganda.
MR. RUGUNDA: Madame President, I salute you for passing and presiding over this Council meeting. It is a demonstration of your commitment to the total elimination of sexual violence that has been so prevalent, especially in a number of African countries. Uganda voted in favor of this resolution because of our continued commitment to the welfare of women, and especially the girl child, who tend to be the primary casualties in conflict situations.
Sexual violence is a global problem. All efforts, therefore, have got to be made to ensure that culprits are held accountable for their despicable actions. Once again, this is a reminder that sexual violence in conflict-related situations can be prevented if peace, stability, and rule of law are restored in the affected countries. Uganda (inaudible) this resolution’s recognition of the needs of national justice systems which have been weakened by conflict, and the understanding that if the international community does not assist these institutions to rebuild their capacity, it will be useless to call for an end to impunity or for prosecution of the war on violence and sex criminals.
Let me take this opportunity to thank Ambassador Rice and the U.S. Mission for spearheading the adoption of this resolution. I thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I thank the representative of Uganda for his statement. And I shall now give the floor to the representative of China.
MR. ZHANG: (Via interpreter) Madame President, first, I would like to thank you for presiding over today’s meeting in person. I would also like to thank the UN Secretary General for his statement just now.
Madame President, China condemns all acts of violence against women in situations of conflict, including sexual violence. We call upon all parties to the conflict to adhere to international humanitarian law and international human rights law. We call upon governments to investigate and to punish those responsible for such crimes against women. We also call upon all countries to adopt measures for their urgent accession to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women based on the above.
The Chinese delegation voted in favor in April last year of Security Council Resolution 1820 and of Resolution 1888, which was just adopted. Here, with regard to the efforts made by Ambassador Rice and the flexible spirit and constructive attitude adopted by the U.S. mission during the course of consultation, we would like to express our appreciation.
With regard to the improvement of protection of women in armed conflicts, I would like to highlight the following viewpoints. First, governments bear primary responsibility for protecting their women and combating crimes of sexual violence. The international community should provide effective assistance in this regard. The primary responsibility to implement Resolution 1820 and 1888 lies with governments. However, both conflict-stricken countries and countries in post-conflict situations often are faced with a plethora of difficulties. Therefore, international community and the donor community should offer a generous helping hand in helping their capacity-building efforts. At the same time, I would like to emphasize that external support and assistance should be conducted in adherence – in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter and should respect the desire of the countries concerned.
Second, women’s participation should be strengthened in various phases of peace process. And their status and their roles should be paid with attention. And during the entire peace process, women’s rights and interests must be respected and protected, and their special needs and concerns taken care of. And they should be given more participation and decision-making power. In recent years, the Secretariat has taken many positive measures in increasing this female – women senior officials and the number of the heads of the UN special missions. We hope that these efforts will continue in the future.
Third, efforts should be made to encourage and support the participation of civil rights – civil society in the protection of women. Many NGO colleagues work on the ground under difficult conditions to promote the protection of women’s rights and interests. Their work should be acknowledged. China supports them in continuing to play their constructive role in the protection of women in situations of armed conflict.
We encourage them to continue their engagement with other UN agencies, especially those that are directly involved on issues of women, and put forward reasonable proposals thereof. The Chinese Government has always paid high attention to the improvement of women’s status and the protection of women’s rights and interests. We would like to work together with the international community in our common efforts to reduce acts of sexual violence in the world and to achieve the goals in the field of women and peace and security.
Thank you, Madame Chair – Madame President. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Inaudible) for his statement. There are no further speakers inscribed on my list. The Security Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on its agenda.
Now, members of the Council, before I adjourn, I want to thank our Permanent Representative and the U.S. Mission Ambassador Susan Rice and all who work with her every day on behalf of our country. I also wish to thank Assistant Secretary for International Organizations Esther Brimmer and her staff, and our Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer.
And I want to extend my best wishes to Miss Norma Chan, the chief of the Security Council Secretariat Branch, who is retiring today after 36 years with the United Nations. (Applause.) We want to give Norma a proper sendoff as she embarks on a new chapter in her life, and thank her for her dedicated service.
So with that, let me say that – thank you all very much for your – not only your vote, but your extremely helpful and substantive comments. And the meeting is adjourned. (Applause.)
[This is a mobile copy of Remarks on the Adoption of a UNSC Resolution to Combat Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict]
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