Statements

Friday 30 January 2015
Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
Intervention of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UNat the Security Council Open Debate onProtection of Civilians in Armed Conflict:Protection challenges and needs faced by women and girlsin armed conflict and post-conflict settingsNew York, 30 January 2015
Intervention of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN at the Security Council Open Debate on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: Protection challenges and needs faced by women and girls in armed conflict and post-conflict settings New York, 30 January 2015Mister President,My delegation wishes to congratulate Chile for its Presidency of the Security Council and for convening this important debate on protection, challenges and needs faced by women and girls in armed conflict and post conflict settings. Today’s discussion provides a much needed opportunity to focus on the impact of violence on women and girls in conflict settings and to identify the initiatives that must be undertaken to eradicate this scourge, that continues to escalate.The Holy See firmly opposes recourse to armed conflict as a means of solving disputes and recognizes that women and girls suffer disproportionately from the ravages of conflict. In conflict settings women and girls are more vulnerable as a result of inequality and are directly targeted as part of fear tactics and deliberate assaults on their rights.Although a focus on women’s protection and inclusion has been a mainstay of the Council’s deliberations, many gaps remain and must be addressed by this august body. Through a series of resolutions, this Security Council has recognized that further steps must be taken to protect women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations and to examine the unique impact of armed conflict on women and girls. However, reports of violence committed against women in the most brutal and horrific forms, including sexual slavery, rape and trafficking are increasing.Mister President, The belief in the sanctity of human life and inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of the principles of Catholic Social teaching. All persons, women and men, girls and boys, by virtue of their human dignity are free and equal. Violence in all its forms is an affront to human dignity and, moreover, sexual violence against women tears at the very fabric of society.This was pointed out by His Holiness Pope Francis, when he emphasized that we must not “overlook the fact that wars involve another horrendous crime, the crime of rape. This is a most grave offense against the dignity of women, who are not only violated in body but also in spirit, resulting in a trauma hard to erase and with effects on society as well. Sadly, even apart from situations of war, all too many women even today are victims of violence.”[1]Mister President,Armed conflict affects the security of the entire community and of the family in particular.  It causes displacement, forcing families to flee and stable communities to disintegrate. Ripped from their land and rich history families and entire communities are vulnerable and exploited as outsiders in foreign lands.In addition, mainly men are called to fight in situations of armed conflict, leaving their family behind to fend for itself. Without the protection of their husband or father, women and girls in particular are vulnerable to exploitation and gross human rights violations with the possibility of becoming the prey of terrorist networks.Mister President,My delegation remains concerned about the continued lack of attention and priority to the protection of women and girls who are targeted and attacked purely because of the faith they profess. The lack of focus and priority for protecting them is troubling when Christians face extinction in some regions of the world and in other regions Christian schools for girls are targeted and attacked. This is a shared reality of members of all faiths and therefore requires the shared commitment of members of all faiths and governments strongly to condemn and confront such violence[2]. As Pope Francis noted, acts of violence continue to strike indiscriminately and there is an alarming increase in kidnapping, particularly of young girls who are made objects of trafficking.  This is an abominable trade that must come to an end. This scourge must be eradicated, since it strikes all of us, from individual families to the entire international community[3].  Mister President,The Catholic Church through her institutions and agencies around the world is providing assistance, care and support to thousands of survivors of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict.  These institutions and their courageous individuals sacrifice themselves on a daily basis and many of these have paid dearly for their endeavors. Because of this permanent local presence in the world’s most disaster prone areas, this network of Catholic institutions and agencies do respond rapidly and effectively to address the consequence of violence in armed conflict.In conclusion, as Pope Francis recently noted in his address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, we must reject the “culture of enslavement” which is incapable of doing good or pursuing peace and accepts as inevitable the spread of war and violence. We must redouble our efforts to replace this “culture” with a culture of life and peace in which governments and the international community fulfill their fundamental responsibility to protect all people[4].Thank you, Mister President.   [1] Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 12 January 2015. [2] Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 12 January 2015. [3] Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the new Ambassadors accredited to the Holy See on the occasion of the presentation of letters of credence, 12 December 2013. [4] Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 12 January 2015.