New York, 25 April 2014
This open debate is an important opportunity to review the shocking but all too constant tragedy of sexual violence against women and girls in conflict situations.
The debate today serves as a necessary bridge between the considerable political commitment, concrete programming in the field and high-level activities. In 2013, at the UN and elsewhere, the international community worked to raise awareness and established a framework for the prevention of violence against women, including conflict-related sexual violence. Canada is encouraged by the momentum demonstrated by upcoming high-level activities focused on practical measures to improve the lives of women and girls, to empower them to participate and contribute fully to the development of their communities and countries unhindered by the effects of sexual violence, female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage.
Last year, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the Elimination of Violence against Women with a focus on sexual violence, including in conflict. That Council also passed the first-ever stand-alone resolution which addresses the harmful practice of child, early and forced marriage. Canada is honoured to have played a role in these resolutions and pleased by the support for them by many others.
Here in New York, the Security Council last June passed a resolution which further addresses sexual violence in conflict and emphasizes the essential role of women’s participation in preventing sexual violence. In September at the General Assembly, some 140 member states endorsed the UN Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict which was co-sponsored by the UK, Canada and many other champions of preventing sexual violence.
The impact which conflict and long periods of post-conflict recovery have on the safety and security of women and girls, and the barriers which the various forms of sexual violence represent for their capacity to learn and to develop their full human potential is an issue we must address.
Canada continues to call for support for women’s civil society organizations, particularly for those assisting survivors to ensure their health, safety and dignity, and those amplifying women’s participation in decision-making processes.
Canada welcomes the Security Council’s resolve to include explicit requests for protection and support to women and children affected by conflict in mission mandates. These missions can play a key role in helping to monitor, help investigate and report on violations committed against women and girls, including all forms of sexual violence in conflict, and to contribute to efforts to identify and prosecute perpetrators.
Canada remains committed to women’s political and economic empowerment as essential elements to address and prevent conflict-related sexual violence.