H.E. Francis A. Chullikatt, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy
See to the United Nations, in the Security Council
Open Debate on Women,
Peace and Security
Secretary-General Report on Sexual Violence in Conflict (S/2013/149)
New York, 17 April 2013
My delegation wishes to congratulate
you, Mr. President, for Rwanda’s Presidency of the Security Council this month
and for convening the present Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict.
We would like to thank the Secretary-General, as well, for his Report on Sexual
Violence in Conflict (S/2013/149).
Since the adoption of the resolution
1325 (2000), the International Community has followed closely the role of women
in the context of war or post war situations, not only as victims but primarily
as agents and important contributors to “the prevention and resolution of
conflicts and in peace-building” […], stressing …the need to increase
their role in decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution”.
My delegation commends these efforts and is convinced that there is ample room
for a greater involvement of women, especially in view of the prevention of
war, for the reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction of societies in
post-war situations, and for avoiding relapses into armed conflicts. Women can
and should play greater roles as allies of peace!
In the light of this, it is even more
frustrating and saddening, the report under consideration describes, the
continued episodes of sexual violence, including, inter alia, rape, forced
sterilization, abduction for sexual purposes and sexual slavery to name just a
few of the egregious acts of violence against women. As recognized, women and
girls are predominantly affected by sexual violence, although men and boys too
are victims of such heinous acts. The underlying reasons are varied; in some
cases, it is done as a strategy to displace populations, in order to gain
access to natural resources or to facilitate drug trafficking, while in other cases
it becomes a way to vent hatred for a certain race, ethnicity, or as political
and economic retaliations. In this regard, it is disappointing that the report
fails to highlight the targeted attacks against the said victims based on their
religious beliefs despite the persistence of such acts in nearly every region
of the world. Also the perpetrators,
too, are varied and can be found in both legitimate State actors, such as those
in a position of trust as armed or security forces or even UN peacekeepers, as
well as non-state actors.
This violent domination of a human being
constitutes an egregious form of degradation of their dignity, but also of the
aggressor, who, in so doing, disfigures himself as a human person. Such heinous
crimes are yet another consequence of the destructive power of war and thus all
States and the international community must do their utmost to stop these
barbarous acts that has been properly labeled as an outrage to the conscience
My delegation wishes to focus its
remarks on the following three aspects:
prevention, it seems not unfitting to recall how one of the first forms of
prevention for these crimes is constituted by our own intense and timely
intervention for the resolution of crises through various peaceful means, of
which the international community is well equipped, such as, prevention of
conflicts through mediation, recourse to international measures, as well as a
commitment to tackle the underlying social and economic causes of conflicts.
Alongside these broader protection efforts should be specific prevention
measures, for example, the education in discipline and moral fiber of armed
forces and awareness campaigns in those values which offer a proper vision of
women in society.
second aspect concerns the notion of criminal responsibility. The report is at pains to address the duty to
prosecute those culpable for the commission of crimes of sexual violence. In
this, my delegation expresses the importance of adopting and implementing
action plans and legislation aimed at protecting these victims from violence
and holding perpetrators accountable. In cases where the Security Council is
called upon to intervene, appropriate measures should be taken to reaffirm the
outright interdiction of these crimes, as well as the criminal liability of
those responsible for their commission. It is imperative that the work of
monitoring and of subsequent judicial proceedings be characterized by justice
and equity and not political interests, which could undermine the noble
motivations and efforts to combat such crimes.
assistance is the third issue, which seems to be rather less evidenced in the report.
Indeed, in order to ensure that reprisals or retribution in the pursuit of
justice do not become an end in themselves, it is necessary to keep the focus
on reparation for victims. It is essential that victims be afforded every
assistance; whereas, on the contrary, all too frequently victims of sexual
assault become ostracized from their communities – especially those who report
sexual violence or those who have become pregnant as a result of a rape. Particularly disturbing here is the
re-victimization of a woman or girl who is raped when she is forced to live
with her aggressor as a “wife”.
Obviously, sexual violence leads to devastating physical and psychological
consequences, sometimes even fatal. Of concern to my delegation in this regard
is the mention in the report to what is euphemistically styled “access to safe
pregnancies termination services”. Here, concealed by a veil of words, lies the
stark reality of the suppression of human life, the death of the innocent
unborn child – which only visits further violence on a woman already in
difficulty. Rather, the “woman with child” should be offered care, support,
education, counseling, and assistance, to meet her material, social and
spiritual needs during and after her pregnancy – including, if necessary, the
possibility of finding a family to adopt her child.
In the final analysis, peace is more
about people than it is about particular structures. People who “foster peace
first of all in their own hearts” give rise, in turn, to “innumerable gestures
of peace” and advance respect for the right to life and
security of all persons, especially women and children.
Thank you, Mr.