10th Anniversary of the Mandate on Sexual Violence in Conflict - Session 11: UN Member States

Statement by H.E. Karel J.G. van Oosterom

Permanent Representative of The Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

NEW YORK, Wednesday 30 October 2019

Thank you Madame Moderator [Ms Pamela Falk, CBS News] for the floor.

  • We would like to congratulate SRSG Ms. Pramila Patten and her team on the 10-year Anniversary of the SRSG’s mandate. And with today’s launch of the Global Fund for Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence.
  • Since the establishment of your office, conflict related sexual violence has become central to discussions about peace and accountability processes. Your office has been instrumental in the documentation of evidence of sexual violence in conflict.
  • Important milestones have been achieved. Yet there is a long way to go. Sexual violence continues to be part of the broader strategy of conflict.
  • Women and girls, men and boys, who faced these crimes are scarred for life. It is positive to see more global attention for survivors. Your efforts have contributed to amplifying their voices.
  • We thank survivors for their bravery to speak about their experiences today. It brings me to my first point. The importance of adopting a survivor-centered approach.

Point 1: Adopting a survivor-based approach

  • We want to emphasize the importance of listening to survivors of sexual violence and respecting their rights, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Survivors should be the drivers of their personal recovery process. We reiterate the importance of res. 2467 as the first resolution that outlines a survivor-centered approach. This is a major step towards inclusiveness of survivors and respecting their needs.
  • Choice is at the corner stone of the survivor centered approach. We should support survivors with information and with comprehensive health services. This includes the right of a women or girl to make herself the decision whether or not to terminate pregnancy as a result of rape.

  • Health services for survivors should also include mental health and psychosocial support. A holistic, survivor-centered approach empowers and builds resilience of affected individuals and communities.
  • Many good practices exist: one-stop centers, women safe spaces, female police, and strengthening traditional justice structures. These interventions need adequate financing by donors and adoption in national systems and action plans.
  • The impunity gap for sexual violence must be closed, which brings me to my second point.

Point 2: Accountability

  • Justice and accountability are key to deterrence and prevention of sexual violence in conflict. Despite increased attention to ending impunity for sexual violence crimes, accountability remains elusive.
  • Sexual violence is used as a tool to instill fear, humiliate and punish not only the victim, but entire communities. Therefore it has been widely recognized as a weapon of war.
  • We have seen this in northern Iraq, where ISIS committed a widespread and systematic campaign of abduction, rape and sexual slavery against the Yezidi community. More than 6000 women and girls were abducted, enslaved and held in captivity by Daesh. Many remain missing. Those who returned to their communities face stigmatization and trauma.
  • Perpetrators of these crimes need to be held accountable. Accountability remains one of our country’s top priorities.
  • As Security Council member, we pushed for adoption of sexual violence as stand-alone designation criterion in sanctions regimes. This led to the inclusion of a reference to sexual and gender based crimes in four sanctions regimes.
  • Furthermore, we should push for criminal investigation and prosecution of these crimes. When states are unable or unwilling to prosecute, the International Criminal Court can play an important role in holding perpetrators accountable. This brings me to my final point.

Point 3: Netherlands’ commitment to implementation

  • Our National Action Plans, programming and diplomatic efforts are geared towards protection against sexual and gender based violence. Jubilee year 2020 will provide great momentum. For Women, Peace and Security-programs, EUR 40 million will be available. Double the amount of previous programs.
  • Financing is a tool, but too often, we see scattered interventions while not addressing the political economy of conflict.
  • We call for better coordination of WPS funding and diplomacy. Major impact can only be achieved if we work together. We count on effective leadership in this regard by all multilateral organizations.

Madame Moderator, I thank you for the floor.