Statement by Ambassador Guillermo E. Rishchynski, Permanent Representative of Canada, to the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security
June 24, 2013
Canada wishes to thank the UK for holding this Open Debate on the prevention of conflict-related sexual violence, an issue of great importance to Canada as it includes the despicable acts of rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, and any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity. The acts are deplorable, prohibited by international law, and constitute an impediment to conflict resolution, development, and transition to peace and democracy.
Canada recognizes that women’s social, political and economic empowerment, their equality with men, and the active participation of men and boys in combating all forms of violence against women are central to long-term prevention efforts. Preventing sexual violence requires promoting and protecting the human rights of women and girls. Prevention also requires supporting survivors on their path to recovery from these crimes, assisting with their access to justice and holding perpetrators to account.
The Security Council and the UN system should act systematically and comprehensively to address gaps and challenges in its work on women, peace and security, and to monitor commitments by parties to conflict to prevent and address conflict-related sexual violence.
The recent report by the Secretary General details the global scope of conflict-related sexual violence including many instances of early and forced marriage of women and girls. Canada is gravely concerned with reports of forced marriage, rape and sexual slavery. Canada condemns the early and forced marriage of women and girls in all situations including the practice of forcing rape survivors to marry their perpetrators or other family members. We welcome the efforts of the Secretary General to bring much-needed attention to the practice of early and forced marriage in the context of armed conflict.
Primary responsibility for the prevention of sexual violence in conflict lies with national governments as well as with the leadership of non-state armed groups. Where these leaders fail to respond to sexual violence, or are party to the crimes, they must be held to account. Often, however, governments lack the capacity to respond adequately. Conflict significantly weakens national justice systems, resulting in a limited number of perpetrators facing justice. In such cases, member states could request the assistance of trained experts for investigations and prosecutions and to strengthen the capacity of local law enforcement.
Canada welcomes the engagement of the Security Council on the issue of preventing sexual violence. We urge the Council to ensure inclusion of prevention of and response to sexual violence in its mandates and resolutions and to ensure these elements are implemented. The Council should take concrete measures to support women’s opportunity for equal participation and decision-making in all conflict prevention and resolution processes. It must ensure the health, safety, human rights and dignity of survivors, and should hold perpetrators to account. In this regard, Canada calls on the Council to ensure that Sanctions Committees add criteria pertaining to acts of rape and other forms of sexual violence to their existing criteria.
Further action at the international level is imperative to end sexual violence in conflict, to tackle the lack of accountability that exists for these crimes and to provide comprehensive support services to survivors. For its part, Canada is active in the prevention and response to sexual violence in conflict. For example, Canada is contributing 18.5 million dollars to the UNDP to support the fight against sexual violence in the DRC conflict. In addition, at the London launch of the G8 Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, Canada announced an additional 5 million dollar contribution to international efforts to be programmed this year. Canada urges all member states to join international efforts and we look forward to working together to stop sexual violence.