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Security Council – Meeting in Arria Formula on “Accountability for conflict-related sexual violence as a central pillar for prevention”

Statement delivered by Ambassador Stefano Stefanile, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Security Council Meeting in Arria Formula on “Accountability for conflict-related sexual violence as a central pillar for prevention” —

Thank you Madame Chair.

Let me say first of all that we do welcome this debate. We do believe that the continuous engagement of the Security Council in addressing the CRSV is crucial.

And, we also commend the growing engagement of civil society, as reflected in the configuration of today’s panel. We do believe this is a powerful factor in raising the attention of the international public opinion and, therefore, of Governments as well on sexual violence in conflict and emergency situations.

Over the last ten years, since the adoption of the groundbreaking resolution 1820, Italy has been constantly supporting international initiatives for the prevention of sexual violence in conflicts. I have a long list of examples in that respect. In 2013, we joined the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies. In 2015, we were among the first signatories of The Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians. We also promptly joined the Secretary-General’s Circle of Leadership on the prevention of and response to sexual exploitation and abuse in UN operations, signed the relevant “Voluntary Compact” and contributed to the UN Trust Fund in support of the victims of this scourge. We promoted, together with other Permanent Missions, the inclusion of sexual and gender-based violence as a stand-alone designation criterion in the renewal of sanctions in the Central African Republic. And we tabled two resolutions: UNSCR 2382, which strengthened the role of the UN Police in preventing and addressing sexual and gender-based violence; and UNSCR 2388, which highlighted the connection between trafficking in persons, sexual violence and terrorism and other organized criminal activities.

Getting to the latest report of the Secretary-General, it is true that it shows that some progress towards combatting the culture of impunity has been achieved in some Countries. And we heard from some interventions that there are some initial signs of the paradigm shift. But, we also heard that there is much that remains to be done. And if we look at the recommendations of the Secretary General, apart from some country-specific recommendations, he also highlights a set of horizontal recommendations, which Italy can certainly support.

Let me mention the fact that we do support the inclusion of sexual violence as an automatic and independent designation criterion in all relevant sanction regimes.

We also agree that the work of the Security Council should benefit from a greater and more systematic involvement of the International Criminal Court. We need some convictions and not only some indictments.

We also believe that the Security Council should favor the creation of international fact-finding mechanisms in order to ensure the collection and preservation of evidence.

Sanctions listing, indictment and conviction are certainly fundamentals for ensuring accountability and they can also be formidable deterrents for sexual violence in conflict situations, but other actions are equally needed. I will just mention very briefly the establishment of a stronger women presence in UN missions in the field would facilitate the dialogue with the local population and the strengthening of the training of peacekeepers and police units. We had an interesting discussion yesterday at the German mission on UN Policing, and there should be obviously specific focus on sexual violence. Let me remind that we do have a Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units in Vicenza which is cooperating with the UN Secretariat.

Finally, it is essential that we continue to assist countries in situation of crisis in reforming their judicial systems and strengthening of the rule of law and of accountability mechanisms at the national level.

Italy is a first-hour supporter of the international action against CRSV and will continue to support the work of the Secretary-General and the work of his Special Representative in order to achieve tangible results on this front. In this spirit, we favor a constant consideration of this issue by the Security Council and look forward to the open debate in April.

I thank you.