Security Council, Open Debate under the agenda item Women, Peace and Security-Statement by H.E. Ambassador Mr. Michel Spinellis
We would like to express our appreciation to the Presidency of Azerbaijan for convening this important Open Debate as well as to the Secretary General and the Executive Director of UN Women for their important contributions. We align ourselves with the statement delivered by the European Union and we welcome the adoption of the resolution by the Council earlier today.
In a conflict-affected environment, violence against women is significantly intensified, indicating that, in many cases, violence is an extension of already-existing gender inequality in society. Despite continuous efforts by the international community to eradicate violence against women, sexual violence in armed conflicts remains a widespread phenomenon. It exacerbates and prolongs situations of armed conflict and therefore it is directly linked to the maintenance of peace and security.
Among others, UN Security Council Resolution 2106 underlines the importance of greater participation and leadership of women in decision-making processes in areas of conflict. In many cases women are excluded from decision-making. Nevertheless, their full and equal participation in peace-making and peace-building is indispensable for the success of these processes, since this is the only way to ensure that the needs of women involved in conflict-related situations are effectively addressed. Women must not be seen solely as victims but as active agents of change and peacekeeping.
Prevention rather than reaction must be a priority. This requires existence of early-warning mechanisms, based on accurate, objective and reliable information. Collection of data relating to sexual violence in areas of conflict is crucial and strongly encouraged, so that both national and international actors are duly informed.
While it is crucial to address sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict contexts, it is equally important to combat impunity and strengthen both international and national justice responses for these crimes. Consequently, capacity-building related to the rule of law, that is wide in scope and goes beyond traditional areas of law reform and strengthening of justice and law enforcement institutions, are necessary.
The rule of law should address justice, equality and equity with a strong focus on the empowerment of women and girls, gender equality as well as on preventing and combating violence against women, as essential preconditions for equitable and inclusive sustainable development.
In this context, we praise the work carried out by the UN in supporting Member States to address rule of law issues in conflict contexts and we consider vital that the UN continues to emphasize the importance of providing redress and assistance to victims in conflict, post-conflict and other crisis situations.
Prevention and response to violence against children in particular, including sexual violence and abuse, forced marriage and maltreatment, should continue to be an important focus area of United Nations assistance.
To make the rule of law a reality beyond the formal establishment of institutions, judicial systems need to be fully accessible to all individuals and groups. A major obstacle to access is the cost involved in legal advice and legal representation services. We support the work undertaken by the United Nations towards implementing a wide variety of projects focused on providing legal aid to address this obstacle.
In concluding, we are of the view that genuine and inclusive participation in the elaboration of transitional justice mechanisms ensures that they not only respond to the needs and expectations of victims, but provide transformative change for sustainable transitions to peace and reconciliation, which is the ultimate goal of all our efforts.