Mr. President, thank you for bringing the Council together to discuss an issue that’s critically important to the United States—and, indeed, to all nations. I also want to thank Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Margot Wallstrom and Special Advisor on Gender Issues Rachel Mayanja for their very helpful briefings.
Mr. President, through a series of resolutions spanning the last decade, this Council has consistently called on all parties to armed conflicts to respect women’s rights. This body has also called on those parties to do more in the areas of conflict prevention, peace negotiations, and post-conflict reconstruction efforts. The Council has also trained attention on the clear link between international peace and security, and the use of sexual violence as a tool of war against civilians.
The human cost is all too real. Armed conflict continues to have a devastating impact on women and girls—leaving them wounded, traumatized, sexually assaulted, socially and economically marginalized, or without political power. Member states must renew their commitment to Resolutions 1325, 1820, and 1888—and intensify their efforts to implement their provisions.
We’re encouraged by the momentum that’s grown considerably in the past few months, particularly in three areas: the appointment of Special Representative Wallstrom and her work beginning to assemble a team of well-qualified staff; the formulation of a Team of Experts; and the immediate attention that the Special Representative has given to the grave crisis in the DRC.
My government is committed to supporting Special Representative Wallstrom’s work as she brings her office up to full operational strength. In particular, we look forward to the inclusion of a military expert within Special Representative Wallstrom’s office. This expert will help address ways that armed forces can prevent and halt sexual and gender-based violence during conflict, support strategies to convince military leaders from all sides of a conflict to prevent their forces from committing rape, and help UN military leaders develop effective strategies to prevent rape during armed conflict.
We’re eager to work with Special Representative Wallstrom and the Team of Experts to ensure a coordinated approach to addressing a series of critical issues: ending the cycle of impunity; helping national authorities strengthen the rule of law, particularly in the DRC; providing assistance to victims; and creating a framework to help prevent emerging or recurring outbreaks of violence; or to provide early warning if they can’t be staved off.
In particular, I want to note how pleased my government is that Special Representative Wallstrom has begun her work by dealing immediately with the grave and worsening situation in the DRC. But far more needs to be done to develop frameworks and initiatives for addressing sexual violence issues overall—even as attention must be focused on specific countries and regions where atrocities are being committed as we speak.
Mr. President, as we recognize the progress being made, we also remain focused on the challenges that lie ahead—including ending endemic sexual and gender-based violence, linking our current efforts with successful strategies for peacekeeping missions like those in the DRC and Liberia, building an enduring team of experts that can work throughout the UN system, and halting the sexual and gender-based violence that often continues even after a conflict subsides.
Mr. President, let me say a few words about steps to implement Resolution 1325, as called for by Resolution 1889.
The Secretary-General’s most recent report is an important step. The work of the UN Technical Working Group, under the auspices of Special Advisor Mayanja, has resulted in draft indicators to measure implementation of 1325 and related resolutions. This report can serve as the basis for further much-needed consultations to ensure that the indicators are conceptually correct and measure qualitative metrics and not just quantitative data—and to assure that these indicators can be realistically implemented. We hope the Council will move forward soon on a final set of indicators to allow the UN to start putting them in practice.
Mr. President, the UN plays critical roles in promoting women’s empowerment, deepening their involvement in political processes, and working to end sexual violence in conflict zones. We support advancing the broad set of women’s issues through the UN system, including through the establishment of a robust, efficient, and effective entity to advance women’s issues and women’s rights.
Almost a decade after the adoption of Resolution 1325, the need to increase women’s participation in peace processes and to combat sexual violence in conflict zones has not abated. Women and girls whose lives and futures are on the line cannot wait. So we look forward to a commemorative meeting in the Security Council this October to mark the resolution’s 10th anniversary and to renew our commitment to a world no longer blighted by impunity, assault, discrimination, and the use of rape as a weapon of war.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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