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Statements and Speeches

Statement by Mr. Mahlatse Mminele, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa to the United Nations, at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate in Connection with the Agenda Item "Women and Peace and Security: Sexual Violence in Conflict as a Tactic of War and Terrorism"

New York, 15 May 2017

Mr President,

I congratulate you and the Uruguayan delegation for assuming the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of May and for organizing this open debate on the very important issue of sexual violence as a tactic of war and terrorism. My delegation wishes to thank the Deputy Secretary-General Ms Amina Mohammed for her statement and Mr Adama Dieng and Ms Mina Jaf for their briefings. We also welcome the report of the Secretary-General.

Mr President,

In war and conflict women and children continue to be the victims of deliberate attacks, including terrorist acts, indiscriminate and excessive violence. These acts of violence, when carried out in a systematic and widespread manner and as part of  an  attack against innocent populations, exacerbate an armed conflict and become an enormous obstacle to its resolution and to building peace.

Sexual abuse and discrimination are inextricably linked to gender inequality, poverty, exclusion and marginalisation. Sexual violence is a deliberate and intolerable violation of the victim's human rights. When women and girls are preyed upon, abused and raped, the international community has a responsibility to speak out on their behalf and to act as their advocates and guardians.

Mr President,

Over the years the international community has come to a deeper understanding of the unique impact that armed conflict has on women and children. There is agreement that women's participation is essential to ensuring conflict resolution, inclusive reconciliation, peacebuilding and sustainable peace. In this regard, Resolution 1325 and all its subsequent resolutions provide the basis for a more focused and systemic response to the role of women in conflict and post-conflict situations. The Security Council has also adopted a number of resolutions dealing with sexual violence as a tactic of war and terrorism, including resolution 2106 (2013) which calls for those  found  to  have committed acts of sexual violence to be held accountable to the fullest extent. Despite these laudable efforts, these atrocities  continue unabated .  Our discussions  in debates
such as this one today, must result in continued meaningful actions  to  protect  the victims of such abuses.

Mr President,

We underscore the need to make full use of the instruments and tools created by the Security Council in all these resolutions, and wish to emphasize the following points:

  • Firstly, South Africa believes that a crucial aspect of ensuring  women  are safeguarded from becoming victims of sexual violence and abuse is to increase the number of women peacekeepers  deployed in peacekeeping missions. This provides for a safer environment for women to report instances of sexual violence and abuse, their concerns and overall perspectives on the security situation. It is against this background that South Africa continues, and urges other member states, to deploy more women peacekeepers in UN peacekeeping missions. The contribution  of women to peace-keeping making and -building · efforts is recognized  as  a contributing factor to the effectiveness and long-term success of United Nations deployments.
  • Secondly, South Africa strongly supports the Secretary-General's initiatives in deploying Women Protection  Advisers  in  UN  missions.  As  the  Secretary-General has recommended, the Security Council should ensure the accelerated deployment and provision of adequate funding for Women's Protection Advisers. This would facilitate the implementation of the resolutions on sexual violence  in  conflict, including the new monitoring requirements set out in resolution 2331 (2016). Crucially, member states should support the inclusion of such posts in the mandates and budgets of peacekeeping operations.
  • Thirdly, we support the Secretary-General's recommendations that call for a mandatory component of pre-deployment training for all peacekeeping personnel on gender sensitivity, preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, and addressing conflict-related sexual violence. This should also include better identification and response to indicators of trafficking in persons in areas affected by conflict, in line with resolution 2331 (2016). In this regard, South Africa established standby investigative teams with the capacity to deploy to any mission within 72 hours.
  • Fourthly, we also support the Secretary-General's  call  on  the Security  Council  to give due consideration to the risk factors and early-warning  signs of sexual violence in its monitoring of conflict situations, especially in relation to periods of rising violent extremism, political instability, elections, civil strife and mass population movements . In this regard the Security Council is also urged to work  with the Secretary-General for the development of a protocol for preventing sexual abuse as part  of peacekeeping mandates and for the General Assembly to include it in the budgets for high-risk peacekeeping operations.
  • Fifthly, we call on the UN to intensify efforts to fight against  this  scourge  by enhancing prevention and swift responses to these crimes. As the  Secretary­ General's report indicated, this will also require dedicated and additional human and financial resources. South Africa therefore supports the proposal of the Secretary­ General for the establishment of victims assistance support functions at UN Headquarters.
  • Finally, we also believe that efforts to fight sexual violence  in conflict  also need to take into account measures to ensure adequate information, fact-finding and proper documentation. Raising awareness of women's and girls' rights, as well as of the existence of sexual  violence  against men and boys, are equally  important.   In  this regard we support the proposals of the Secretary-General for the establishment of a system-wide,  consolidated repository of case information.

In conclusion Mr President,

The international community must continue to work towards a non-discriminatory and non-sexist global society in which all women and girls are treated as equal citizens. The end of discrimination against women will go a long way towards addressing the root causes of sexual violence.

Finally, let us recognize that there cannot be peace without justice. Demanding accountability from all parties to a conflict and fighting against impunity remains our prime responsibility. I close with a quote from President Mandela delivered in 1997 during the National Men's March Against Sexual Abuse: "As long as we take the view that these are problems of women alone to solve, we cannot expect to reverse the high incidence of rape and child abuse... We will not defeat this scourge that effects each and every one of us... "

I thank you.



Rev. 2017-11-02 12:34 PM