Ending sexual violence in conflict is a key aspect to peace building, conflict prevention and reconciliation, according to Ambassador Matthew Rycroft.
Speaking at the Security Council Open Debate on sexual violence in conflict, Rycroft, UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said, “As we’ve heard today, ending sexual violence in conflict is central to peace building, conflict prevention and reconciliation.”
“This is a message that should not need repeating in this Council.”
“We’ve heard it many times before on our visits to South Sudan, Lake Chad, most recently Colombia.”
Rycroft continued, “We cannot forget the stories we heard in that dusty IDP camp in northern Nigeria.”
“Stories of women whose daughters had been abducted by Boko Haram, likely forced into marriage and sexual slavery.”
“And yet, as the Secretary-General’s report clearly shows, those messages are not getting through.”
“Not enough is being done.”
“Women and girls, men and boys are still subjected to sexual violence every day.”
“In Mali, where survivors are forced to withdraw complaints so that perpetrators can escape justice.”
“In Syria, where not a single person has been prosecuted for Da’esh’s vile acts.”
“In South Sudan, where we see the continuing abhorrent use of rape as a sickening means of punishing communities.”
“We know what needs to happen. We need to make sexual violence a key part of ceasefire deals.”
“We need fewer women at kitchen tables and more women at negotiating tables. And we need even more women serving in uniform – because for too many survivors a man in uniform is someone to fear, not someone to trust.”
“This is a lesson that needs to be heeded by governments, by armed forces, and yes, by the UN and its peacekeepers too.”
To help tackle this problem the UK, in partnership with the UN Team of Experts and Justice Rapid Response, is running a campaign to end the stigma that so often surrounds survivors of sexual violence.
Rycroft also highlighted that the UK is also developing the Principles for Global Action to be launched at the General Assembly later this year. This is a new tool to help policy makers and international organisations tackle stigma through their own work.
Concluding his speech, Rycroft said, “So let us make sure that tackling sexual violence is not something we talk about only once a year at this debate, but in every single Security Council item where it is relevant, starting with the upcoming Al-Qaeda sanctions regime review.”
“Nor can we shy away from the fact that these appalling acts are the direct result of gender discrimination and inequality.”
“Until women are treated equally, paid equally, respected equally, we will have failed, not just to address this issue, but also to deliver the Global Goals that we all agreed less than two years ago.”