Security Council Arria Formula Meeting: Children Born from Sexual Violence

Statement of H.E. Joke Brandt,
Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands

Delivered by H.E. Lise Gregoire-van Haaren,
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

New York, 26 October 2018

We thank Poland, Bolivia, France and Germany and the briefers. And I like to specifically mention the courageous intervention of Miss Evelyn Amony. I am particularly grateful to our briefers from South Sudan, North Uganda and Colombia for sharing their personal stories and bring the reality of the situation into this room.

There is a sense of urgency in addressing this topic because of the testimonies we just heard and because of the Rohingya crisis. The Council visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh revealed a picture of large-scale atrocities against minorities in Myanmar, including sexual violence. Many children born of sexual violence find themselves in refugee camps in Bangladesh. We cannot ignore them.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands fully aligns itself with the statement to be made by the European Union and we strongly agree that we must look at the issue of protecting children born from sexual violence in a holistic way.

The plight of these children cannot be seen in isolation. This means that we also need to look at the plight of their mothers.

First of all, we need to help women and girls dealing with trauma and  who are coming to terms with memories of sexual violence or exploitation.

Second, we need to address their sexual and reproductive health needs ranging from maternal care to the screening for and the treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV, to emergency contraception and access to safe abortion services.

For women and girls to have the choice to access these services is vital.

And thirdly, importantly, healing requires accountability and justice.

The fight against sexual violence is a priority for our Security Council membership this year. We have to ensure that survivors have access to justice. And that perpetrators of sexual violence are punished, or if applicable, sanctioned. There can indeed be no peace without justice.

It is hard to only imagine the scale of the problems that children born out of sexual violence are facing. We need sustained attention and we need more reporting. And we must ask ourselves whether we have been able to make sure that the Special Representatives on ‘Women, Peace and Security’, ‘Sexual Violence in Conflict’ and ‘Children and Armed Conflict’ are appropriately equipped to do this.

There are lessons to be learned from the Children and Armed Conflict mandate and the role for the Council in stopping violations against children in armed conflict.

Its monitoring and reporting mechanism has proven a uniquely and effective tool to identify perpetrators and push affected countries to undertake action to prevent further abuse.

The Council’s resolution adopted on Children and Armed Conflict in July 2018 encouraged member states to focus on long-term and sustainable reintegration and rehabilitation opportunities for children affected by armed conflict. The proposed measures can also help children born of sexual violence and their mothers: psycho-social support, education and livelihoods programs, as well as awareness raising and working with communities in order to avoid stigmatization of children born from sexual violence.

To conclude, Madam chair,

It is time to discuss the plight of children born from sexual violence and the plight of their mothers – women and girls.

By ignoring their voices we are not only allowing their rights to be trampled upon but we are also planting the seeds for future conflicts. Therefore, we now need to apply lessons from the past, we now have to help these children and their mothers in present and the future.

Thank you.

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